Higgins & Newby win Greenerways Rally
Sunday’s Greenerways Rally took the Eco Tyre project a step further, Mark Higgins and Lynn Newby leading the event which went some way to simulate a full rally traversing a forest stage.

Higgins and his stand-in co driver, TEG Sport team boss Newby, were probably favourites to win the event, after BRC rival Keith Cronin could not attend. Nevertheless the pair set fastest times on all but one of the seven runs to take victory from team-mate Jock Armstrong, again co driven by a novice in the guise of chief engineer Stuart Newby.

2009 BRC regulars Dave Weston Jnr and Aled Davies had held second place from the outset, even pipping Higgins on stage four, but they stopped with fuel starvation just half a mile from the end of the final test.

British Rally Championship Team JRM Lico crew David Bogie and Kevin Rae had fuel pump problems and stopped briefly in stage two, later struggling to start their Evo 10 and amassing penalties to drop down the order.

It was therefore relative newcomer to rallying Jim McNeil and experienced co driver Kim Baker who took third, a handful of seconds per mile off the pace of triple British Rally Champion Higgins.

Peter Stephenson brought his fantastic sounding MG Super 2000 home in fourth, ably guided by last minute co driver Chris Davies. With Weston scoring a final stage maximum, he dropped to fifth ahead of a pair of newcomers to gravel rallying.

Club competitors Simon Bowen and Richard Robinson had been improving all day and having a great experience on the new surface. But they slipped off the road on the penultimate run, becoming victims of one of Kielder’s infamous ditches.

Despite this, they were still classified ahead of BRC Media Co-ordinator and another gravel novice Simon Moss. His notes were kept in order by Emma Morrison who is more used to the Swift Sport Cup in the BRC, however the pair had transmission problems and took penalties for stages four and five.

The talk of the service area was all about the Pirelli tyre itself though. Mark Higgins summed up at the end of the event, “The purpose of this event was to see the effect of a less aggressive tyre on the gravel surface and I think it proved very successful. It was inevitable that the cars had less grip than we are used to and we proved the stage times are slower when we did a final run on a conventional tyre at the end of the event.”

He continued, “Apparently the results from a spectator’s point of view are an improvement though, the car certainly moves about a lot more, although we had some differential problems which made it even more spectacular!” He concluded, “I'm pleased to have been involved in this project as it could very well help secure the future of forest rallying in the UK, Its now in the hands of the Forestry Commission.”

Event originator Mark Taylor said, “It has been a very useful exercise and the Forestry Commission engineers now have much more data with which to assess the damage caused to the tracks.”

“I think all the drivers enjoyed the experience and if a closer pattern tyre is eventually adopted as the norm, the Greenerways Rally proves that a level of competitiveness is still achievable.”

He concluded, “This project would never have happened without the input from Pirelli, the Forestry Commission and the MSA. But even with their assistance there would have been no rally without the Cumberland Sporting Car Club, all the marshals, rescue crews and people who have given up their free time to help secure the future of British forest rallying. Thanks to all.”

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