Mat Smith and Matthew Robinson were left celebrating dramatic victories on ‘home soil’ in the two main events that go to make up the Trackrod Rally Yorkshire today (Saturday, September 29th).
The two North Yorkshire drivers took the major honours when the sun-drenched rally reached a conclusion along Filey seafront but in completely different circumstances.
Thirsk’s Smith, driving a 1600cc turbocharged Ford Fiesta, came from behind to deny Charlie Payne a fourth successive win on the 45 stage-mile Trackrod Forest Stages by the narrowest of margins.
The former BTRDA 1400cc Champion went into the final test – the rallies longest at almost 14 miles in Langdale – just 2.5 seconds behind Payne’s similar car.
But he emerged from the North York Moors forest 1.2 second ahead to take what he described as: “by far the biggest victory of my career.
“It’s my first time in a 4-wheel drive car bar about 20 minutes testing beforehand,” said a jubilant Smith.
“I made a few mistakes early on but knew once I ironed them out I’d have chance.”
The accompanying Trackrod Historic Cup was equally dramatic but for totally different reasons.
Newly crowned Fuchs Lubricants British Historic Champion Paul Barrett, one of a host of Ford Escort Mk2 drivers, gently rolled his car on the opening night stage in Dalby Forest, smashing the windscreen and picking up a maximum time for the test.
The jovial Irishman recovered, with the aid of a windsceen borrowed from friend and rival Robinson, to register fastest times on three of Saturday’s five concluding stages but remained way down the leaderboard.
That allowed Robinson, a road surfacing engineer from Ripon, to lead from start to finish for: “one of the most meaningful successes of my career as it’s my local event and I’ve tried so hard in previous years.”
Steve Bannister, like Payne, was bidding for a fourth straight win in the historic event but the Malton Escort driver was forced to settle for third place behind the 40-year old Fiat 131 of runner-up and current British Rally Championship leader Matt Edwards, who has also taken the BTRDA Gold Star crown during a dominant season.
Among the most notable achievements came from octogenarian Bob Bean, driving a replica of a 1962 Ford Cortina.
The incredible 80-year old from Cleckheaton in West Yorkshire, who rolled his car out of the rally 12 months ago, won his class, category and the Jordan Road Surfacing BHRC2 Championship for the smaller engined and older cars, then, when asked about next year, replied: “why not?”
A total of 103 of the 140 starters completed the two rallies.