Russ Thompson was a pleased man at the end of the 2014 Malcolm Wilson Rally, as he extended his lead in the BTRDA Production Cup after a tricky day on the forest stages of the Lake District.
After opening his campaign with an emphatic class win and fifth place overall on February’s Wydean Forest Rally, only his second event in a four wheel drive car, the Clitheroe ace was optimistic that the more familiar stages of the Wilson would provide the opportunity to secure another strong result.
Getting underway from the impressive M-Sport facility at Dovenby Hall, a steady run through the day’s first test saw Thompson on the fringes of the top 10, before an improvement in pace through the Wythop and Greystoke stages, saw him into 10th place heading to the day’s first service.
The Ribble Valley driver was however, unhappy with the grip being offered up by the car and decided to switch onto a different combination of new and old tyres at the service halt, before heading off to the mid-afternoon loop around Grizedale forest.
Looking to unlock the speed still within himself and his Mitsubishi Evo 9, his bid to close the gap to the class leaders took an immediate setback, when a rogue rock became trapped between the left hand rear wheel and the wheel arch.
Causing the car to slide around the road and destabilising the handling, Thompson limped through the four miles of the first stage as the 17th fastest runner and while his overall 10th place was maintained, the lost time did take the class lead battle out of reach.
With the offending piece of rubble removed, Thompson was back onto a top 10 pace and able to run to the end of the day 10th overall and third in class.
“We’re in a season where mileage and gaining experience of the new car is more important than outright results, but I’m really pleased to come out of the Lakes with an increased lead in the Production Cup and to be equal third in the Gold Star Championship.” said Thompson.
“We went for too soft a tyre compound at the start of the day which wasn’t giving me the confidence I needed in the car to be able to push on what are very fast stages, which cost us a fair bit of time.
“We then were unable to get that back because of the rock.
“For what was only our third event in this car though, I am really pleased we took another strong class result and gained more experience in the car.”
The BTRDA’s next round is the Betta Somerset Stages on April 12th.