Finch Claims the Spoils (as Proctor gets stumped…!)
Steve Finch and Sam Fordham were never headed as their Ford Fiesta R5 took a 21sec victory over Scott Renshaw and Emma Morrison’s Impreza on the 2021 Rex Pet Hotel Flying Fortress Stages. The event attracted a full entry of 70 cars which included 19 Dukeries MC crews and 4 Land Rover Defenders of the UK Armed Forces Rally Team.
There was 1st stage drama when last year’s winners and top seeds Kevin Proctor / Patrick Walsh (Fiesta S2000T) slid wide and hit a tree stump breaking a wheel and damaging a drive shaft, taking a stage maximum. They managed to repair the damage and re-joined the event taking 3 fastest stage times before a failed alternator finally put them out for good.
Finch and Renshaw were tied over the first 2 stages with Dave Hornbrook / Ann Foster’s Mitsubishi Evo4 a further 3 secs down, closely followed by David Longfellow / Daniel Ward’s Subaru Impreza. Out of contention though on stage 2 were David McMullan / Marc Melhuish after their Mitsubishi E6 hit the same tree stump as Proctor.
Over the next couple of stages Finch managed to pull out a 9 sec lead over Renshaw whilst Hornbrook and Longfellow were still only 3 sec apart in third and fourth.
Finch was fastest over the final 2 stages to increase his winning margin, leaving Renshaw a relatively comfortable second. A late charge from Darrel Taylor / Steve McNulty’s Fiesta R5 saw them move up to 3rd ahead of Hornbrook with Longfellow sidelined on the final stage with mechanical woes.
Oliver Davies / Ben Innes claimed fifth over and but also took the Class 4 win after Stephen & Cathy Booth’s Ford Escort Mk1 had suffered a broken propshaft on Stage 4. Martin Farrar / Andy Ward (Impreza) completed the top six.
In Class 1 for up to 1400cc cars Steve & Sophie Black‘s Suzuki Swift set the pace all day, whilst Matt Wood / Dan Petrie’s 1600cc Vauxhall Corsa topped Class 2 and finished in an excellent tenth place overall. Seventh placed Gareth Bevan / Ashley Trimble (Escort Mk2) won Class 3 after a very close contest with Craig Stevens / Stephen Moyses in a similar Mk2 Escort.
Event sponsors Nigel & Louise Wetton >>>
The 2021 Rex Pet Hotel Flying Fortress Stages was again a huge undertaking for Dukeries MC to put on especially with the implementation of all the Covid-19 mitigation procedures. Thanks once again to Clerk of the Course Andy Smith and all of the organising team, officials, marshals, safety crews and competitors for playing their part.
Report by Peter Scherer with additions. Photos by Kevin Money & Malcolm Almond