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Evans win on Manx Rally

Sun, 08 May 2011

Melvyn Evans
Melvyn Evans

Melvyn Evans has won the Manx Telecom Rally in his Subaru Impreza WRC and now joins the elite list of drivers who have done so on three occasions. The popular Welshman was victorious in 2002 and 2008 and this time, partnered by Patrick Walsh, his margin was substantial – nearly four minutes after 120 miles of stages, but he managed to stay clear of a tremendous tussle going on behind him for the remaining podium places.

In the end, Nigel & Michaela Cannell took the runners-up spot in their Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9 and fellow Manx crew Andrew Leece/Graham Fargher were 3rd in an EVO6. The Cannell’s service crew had been kept busy as a differential needed changing towards the end of the event, but they were more fortunate than George Collister/Janet Craine whose own EVO3 had been running as high as 2nd for a while but was forced to drop back with a bad oil leak. Collister eventually arrived home in 4th place, ahead of John Stone/Ian Grindrod (Skoda Fabia WRC) and Graham Coffey/David Gamblin (Subaru Impreza WRC).
Leading the event at the end of the first leg, Paul Bird’s hopes of becoming the first driver to win the Manx Telecom Rally on three consecutive occasions came to nought on the second stage on Saturday morning when the Cumbrian’s Ford Focus WRC left the road and hit a bank. The car was not badly damaged but, by the time it was mobile again, Bird and co-driver Kirsty Riddick had lost so much time that they elected not to continue.
The Scottish crew of David Hardie/John McCulloch (Subaru Impreza) will be well pleased with 7th overall, whilst the first two-wheel drive car home was the Ford Escort MkII of John Ashton/Mark Lewis which finished an excellent 8th overall, one place on front of Kex Walker/Danni Matthews in a BMW 325. The Top Ten was rounded off by Tim Collins/Paul McCann in another Lancer EVO9.

Finishing just outside the Top Ten, but nevertheless delighted to be there, were John Indri and Pete Johnson in a Darrian T90 GTR. They, too, had been running considerably higher but intercom failure on the penultimate loop of stages had led to frantic hand signals by Johnson in an attempt to show the way. Indri has not contested the event for nearly a decade and didn’t finish then – so he was understandably pleased to have completed the rally!

The Manx Telecom Rally was the second round of the REIS MSA Asphalt Rally Championship and it was Evans/Walsh who will return home with maximum points. As mentioned, Bird’s visit to the Isle of Man resulted in nil points as did that of series leader after the first round, Steve Simpson, whose Impreza WRC suffered clutch problems on the way to the first stage and defending Champion Damian Cole whose Ford Focus WRC ground to halt with throttle trouble on Saturday morning.

The rally took place in mixed weather conditions, including some torrential rain during Friday evening, and the on-off showers on Saturday caused tyre choice headaches for everyone! In the event, 50% of the original starters failed to make the finish on the quayside in Peel, but those who did were full of praise for the efforts of organisers Manx Auto Sport.

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