Saturday morning saw an early start for Morecambe’s Phil Burton and his Welsh co-driver Dylan Thomas.
The pair took their Millington-engine, Westgate Tyres supported Escort Mk2 to the annual Pirelli Rally, all competitive mileage in the infamous Kielder Forest, a place with the daunting reputation as being a graveyard for rally cars.
The Pirelli Rally is comprised of smaller, but equally competitive and challenging rallies, using many of the same special stages.
After a steady run through a tricky, wet and very slippery stage one, conditions improved for the duo in stage two, only to be red flaggedright at the end due to an accident.
Thankfully, it appears the worst injury to the unfortunate crew was a broken wrist.
The route now headed into service where it was found that the alternator wasn’t charging properly.
However, a good clean out with brake cleaner appeared to rectify the problem.
By special stage three it became obvious the alternator issue was not cured. so it was fingers crossed the battery would last until the finish line.
Progress was hampered by heavy rain in special stage four however, despite slowing windscreen wipers reducing visibility to almost zero in places, the Burton/Thomas Escort still managed to set third fastest time.
Thankfully their problems permitted them to manage a long road section back to the finish in Brampton where a big sigh of relief was heard at the finish ramp and the duo were rewarded with a fourth overall and also first overall in the ‘Rally2’ category.
Thanks as always went to Phil’s loyal sponsors Graham Bailey (Westgate Tyres), Les Farmer of 1media, Stu Taylor (Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery), Mike Smith (BDS fuels and Biomass), J Wright & Sons, SBG Construction, Darren Jones Plumbing, Michelle Rice (Race lubricants) and John Bleasdale (JB Signs).
There were 24 finishers in the Rally2 event, with Matthew Robinson/Dave Robson coming out on top, Joe Price/Chris Brooks finished second while Adrian Hetherington/Ronan O’Neill were third.