District crews battle challenging conditions at Malcolm Wilson Rally

Andrew Wilde and Joanne Malin in action at the Malcolm Wilson Rally. Picture: GMS
Andrew Wilde and Joanne Malin in action at the Malcolm Wilson Rally. Picture: GMS
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There were mixed fortunes for local crews at the Malcolm Wilson Rally in the forests of the Lake District.

The event, Morecambe Car Club, Kirkby Lonsdale Motor Club and West Cumbria Motor Club’s premier special stage rally, saw 120 of the UK’s best crews assemble at Dovenby Hall, Cockermouth.

Tom Woodburn and driver Tom Walster on the Grizedale North stage shortly before their off at the Malcolm Wilson Rally.

Tom Woodburn and driver Tom Walster on the Grizedale North stage shortly before their off at the Malcolm Wilson Rally.

Kicking off on Saturday morning the 40th anniversary of the prestigious event brought gale force winds, driving rain, poor daylight and thick and swirling mists.

Wayne Sisson and Neil Shanks, seeded 16 in their Arnside Motorsport Lancer EVO10, took a superb sixth overall and second in Class B13.

Bentham’s David Wright and co-driver Michael Wilkinson, seeded eight, suffered a puncture in Grizedale, requiring a wheel change that cost them five minutes.

They resumed competition however and managed to finish 22nd.

Andrew Wilde and Joanne Malin, seeded 182 in their Bodyworx/Windscreens Direct Honda Vti, finished 74th.

A total of 34 crews had to retire including Morecambe co-driver Tom Woodburn and his driver Tom Walster.

The pair suffered a second retirement of the Kick Start 1400 Rally Championship season, going off on the event’s fifth stage as they attempted to make up lost time after a spin and a stall on the second stage cost them 20 seconds.

Unfortunately, one cut corner too many saw damage from an earlier bump suffer a blow that caused further problems and the car to lose most of its oil.

Despite being pulled back onto the course by assembled spectators, including Woodburn’s dad, he and Walster could only limp to the end of the stage and an enforced early finish.

Euan Thorburn and Richard Cooke took victory in their Ford Focus WRC02 from last year’s winners Paul Bird and Aled Davies who came home second.

The first two stages were held either side of Whinlatter Pass, before a passage control near Braithwaite and the new special stage of Thornsgill.

Crews then moved onto M-Sport’s test facility, Greystoke Forest, for the first of two visits during the day.

Cars then headed to Penrith Truckstop for a service and re-fuelling followed by another passage control, high in the Lakes at the Drunken Duck.

Surviving crews were then faced with two technically testing stages within the Grizedale Forest complex.

A final visit to Thornsgill and Greystoke preceded the rally finish at Rheged.