Clitheroe’s Russ Thompson recorded a second class victory of the year on last Saturday’s Somerset Stages Rally, to take the lead in both the BTRDA Production Cup and the Group N championships.
In a competitive showing across 13 special stages in the forests around the Somerset town of Minehead, Thompson and co driver Andy Murphy were the fastest Group N crew on eight of the forest tests and in the overall top 10 of the 145 strong field throughout.
Having retired from the event in 2015 while locked in a three-way fight for the class win, the 28-year-old was determined to avoid a repeat of that scenario as he and Cumbrian driver Aaron McClure battled it out to earn valuable points.
While McClure put in three stage times faster than Thompson in the opening loop, the Lancastrian’s consistency ensured he was ahead on the leader board.
After his opponent rolled his car out of the event on stage five, Thompson had a 17-second advantage in class but still had motivation to push as he found himself well in contention for an overall third place finish.
Ultimately, the pace of more powerful cars saw him settle for seventh overall, but take a handsome 25-second class win.
Speaking post event, Thompson said: “We’re very happy to continue being the fastest group N car this season and our pace in the morning was strong and showed that we are capable of going into the top three overall.
“We could have continued to push in the afternoon to make a fight of those positions, but with the class lead in mind, we eased off to make sure of that and to save a set of tyres for later in the season.”