Phil survives ‘graveyard of rally cars’

Phil Burton / Mal Capstick hard-charging through 'killer' Keilder in the Millington-powered Escort during the recent DMack Stages Carlisle Rally.
Phil Burton / Mal Capstick hard-charging through 'killer' Keilder in the Millington-powered Escort during the recent DMack Stages Carlisle Rally.
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The DMack Carlisle Stages Rally saw some local rally crews competing .

Wayne Sisson (Arniside) and Neil Shanks in their Arnside Motorsport Mitsubishi Evo X at number 14, Ian Joel (Carnforth) along with regular co-driver Graeme Wood were in their Chris Allen Garages/710 lubricants Escort Cosworth seeded at 25.

Morecambe Car Club member Aaron McClure was in his Mitsubishi Evo9 at number 27, with Elliott Edmondson on the pace notes.

Morecambe Car Club’s Phil Sandham (Bolton-le-Sands) continues his busy program of co-driving for various drivers, this time for his employer – David Dobson (Dobson Construction, Guiseley) at number 75.

However, all eyes were on Bare’s Phil Burton/Mal Capstick (Westgate Tyres/Accident Advice Solicitors, Millington-powered Escort Mk2), seeded at 40, the duo were leading their class in the national championship and hoped to collect another handful of points on the rally.

Based in Longtown, the rally used special stages in ‘killer’ Keilder – the forest has gained a reputation over many decades for being the graveyard of rally cars. A quality entry of 130 assembled for the Saturday morning start ready to do battle over Glen Dhu, Kershope, Newcastleton, Chamot Hill and Ash Park.

Sadly Chamot Hill saw a frustrating end to the Dobson/Sandham rally – the car becoming stuck on the inside of a hairpin.

However, Sisson/Shanks were on the pace from the start and never out of the top ten times. Joel/Wood posted top ten times on SS3, 5 and 6, while McClure/Edmondson also had their names in the top ten on SS 3 and 4.

However, the crew were to join the list of those retiring – their car didn’t go any further after SS5.

However, in the WWRS RAC Rally section of the rally, it was another Burton whitewash – Phil and Mal taking Keilder by the scruff of its neck and pounding the opposition with a 42 second victory after the six, tortuous stages.

The Burton Escort had been tested earlier in the previous week, and a worrying vibration was discovered but the issue cured.

Hoping to relegate the broken wheel issue of the previous event, Phil purchased a new set of rims for the DMack rally.

The crew reported ‘no dramas’ on SS1, 2, 3 and 4 – except for destroyed tyres on SS3, with subsequent time loss.

However, SS4 was unbelievably rough – “one of the roughest stages I’ve ever driven” reported Phil. Such were the conditions that a canister for the rear suspension was broken off its bracket – thankfully the attached pipe remained in place.

Roadside repairs were affected by the crew allowing them to safely continue. The final stage saw Phil on a mission – determined to consolidate his lead. Such was his pace through the long stage – he caught the Focus WRC of experienced Brian Bell by the nine miles distance and had to traverse the final two miles in the thick dust created by Bell’s car.

Despite this issue, Burton still posted a time 54 seconds faster than the WRC car. Burton/Capstick finished the rally in 18th overall (main event) and were the third two-wheel drive car. Joel/Wood achieved second in the Senior Driver’s category and seventh overall, while Sisson/Shanks took fifth overall and second in Class B13.