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Hills Ford Three Shires Rally 2023

The event this year had a new venue for the service park and rally HQ at Much Marcle Showground which provided a rally base all weekend. This was located just 10 minutes from Ledbury Town Centre, the location of the Saturday afternoon’s ceremonial start, with its historic background of the marketplace.

The event was also a round of the Historic Stage Rally Challenge Stage Masters and Cotswold MotorSport Group (CMSG) championships.

It was certainly an event of two halves on the Sunday. The first 8 stages saw relatively dry conditions with some slippery locations. However, the forecasted downpour arrived just in time for the crews to make a difficult tyre choice decision – be brave or play it safe.

Photography Courtesy of Black Mountains Media

Roger Moran/Dan Petrie – 10th Overall, 8th in Class 6

First time for Dan in an R5 with Roger Moran in the Moran Motorhomes backed Skoda. With Roger not having used the car for nearly nine months, the relatively new pairing just wanted to get into the swing of things with the car. No dramas were reported all day, the car was faultless and saw them up to 7th within the leaderboard. However, with the wet conditions and shiny tarmac from the previous loops of stages, the decision was made to get to the finish without any damage for a solid result.

Photography Courtesy of Paul Mitchell Photography

Oliver Davies/Jack Bowen – 14th Overall, 3rd in Class 4

Jack Bowen was again back in with Oliver Davies in his Mk2 Escort. They decided to have a push on the opening loop of stages to make the most of the dry conditions and were very pleased to find they were third two-wheel drive and only 7 seconds off leading the two-wheel drive category behind Brad Cole after stage 4.

The pair continued to push on the second loop but ended up a bit scrappy on stage 5 with have a half spin and a brush with a chicane. Managing to get it together for stage 6 and stage 7 unfortunately the tyres went off on stage 8, dropping time to both Cole and James.

Starting the third loop of stages, the rain settled in, and they elected to go on full wets. An executive decision on the way to stage 9 was made to back off, with a big enough margin to fourth in class, not to chase the leading two, and just get round.

Photography Courtesy of Black Mountains Media

Peter Elkins/Andrew Sankey – 15th Overall, 9th in Class 6

This was Peter’s first proper rally in the Fiesta summed up with a stall on the start of stage 1, a spin on stage 7, hit a bale on stage 11 and ten stages with a persistent misfire! The crew reported being a bit conservative with wet tyres chosen for the first four stages. Changed to slicks for the next four stages and were trying to push harder, however the misfire did hold them back. Changed back to wets for the final leg of stages, determined to get a finish in some difficult conditions.

Photography Courtesy of Paul Mitchell Photography

Chris Simmons/Fraser Moss – 18th Overall, 5th in Class 4

Photography Courtesy of Paul Mitchell Photography

Gary Smith/Emma Clarke – 66th Overall, 1st in Class H1

Despite being caught at least once on every stage both reported a great day. Very happy with their result as it was Gary’s first time on tarmac in 40 years and Emma’s first closed road event and in an underpowered car with no handbrake. Both reported brilliant stages with confidence building throughout the day.

Photography Courtesy of Black Mountains Media

Alan Walker/John Connor - DNF

A steady start for Alan and John in their Ford Escort Mk 2 holding second historic at first service after the initial loop of four stages. The car ran faultless until they hit a chicane at high speed on stage 7, leading to a stage maximum. They pushed on stage 8 to try and get some time back and took 45 seconds of the class leader.

Their prayers for rain were answered and they set off for the final loop with appropriate wets on the car. 13th quickest overall, catching two cars on stage 9 suggested they were in with a chance. However, they were caught out on a narrow section on stage 10, clipping the inside bank, culminating in a roll and out of the rally, with plenty of panel damage which will repair.

Photography Courtesy of Paul Mitchell Photography

Ryan Wilding/Lucy Wilding - DNF

Unfortunately, it was another retirement for the pair in their Vauxhall Nova with clutch issues near the end of stage 5. A bit of a moment on stage 1 after the back wheel caught some grass and a very slow slide into a bank of a hairpin right on stage 2 due to the slippery conditions were the only concerns to report. Both enjoyed the stages that were completed prior to their mechanical failure.


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