DRIVER Andy Burton has written himself into the history books after he won the Dukeries Rally for a record fourth time on Saturday.
With Robin Kellard in the co-driver’s seat of his Peugeot Cosworth, the Kington driver led this year’s event right from the word go to put himself into the record books at last.
The day was not without its problems, however, as Burton and his service crew had to remove the car’s gearbox to check it over during the service halt at Thoresby before completing the event.
Chesterfield’s Steve Perez, who was also a three-time Dukeries winner, started the day with similar aspirations, but he and Paul Spooner (Ford Focus WRC) were two seconds slower than Burton on the opening stage – and that’s how it stayed.
The 2010 winners eventually finished 24 seconds adrift after 45 miles of special stages in the East Midlands forests.
Yorkshiremen Charlie Payne/Craig Thorley, who were runners-up last year in their Ford Focus WRC, were third, finishing on identical time penalties as the Subaru Impreza of Roger Chilman/Andrew Sankey from Hereford.
Legend Kenny Brack, former CART racer and winner of the Indianapolis 500 in 1999, entered the Dukeries Rally in a Ford Escort MkII as part of his preparations for the Midnight Sun Rally in his native Sweden next month and came away with a win in the two-wheel drive section.
With co-driver Emil Axelssan, Kenny finished ahead of the Opel Kadett of Allan McDowall (Tarbolton)/Gavin Heseltine and fellow Escort runners Boyd Kershaw (Reading)/Bryan Hull.
The first group of cars to return to the finish at Southwell Racecourse were contenders for the 1400cc Championship and, as is so often the case, a very close-fought battle had taken place.
Brian McGuinness (Haverhill)/Ian Harden’s Vauxhall Corsa won the category by just three seconds from the similar car of Kieran and Lyndsey Darrington (St Neots), with the Proton Satria of Millers Oils 1400 Championship leaders Darren Pinchin (Cheltenham)/Karen Watts relegated to third place on the day.
Ash Slights/Tom Hughes (Toyota Yaris) took their fifth consecutive maximum points score, from five starts, in the BTRDA Rally First Championship, confirming them as this year’s winners with three rounds still to run.
The Yorkshire teenagers have successfully defended their 2010 title and are hoping to move up to the full 1400 Series next season.
Slights’ run of success also sees him moving into the overall lead of the Swisher MSA English Rally Championship, of which the Dukeries was the fourth round.
In terms of Championships, the Dukeries forms part of the BTRDA Gold Star Rally Series and, after five of the eight events, Andy Burton has built up a commanding lead after four outright wins.
The only other crew to win a rally so far this season, Hugh Hunter/Andy Marchbank, went out when their Ford Focus WRC developed mechanical trouble after three of the nine stages.
This was their second retirement of the season, putting any chance of a repeat of their 2007 Gold Star title in serious doubt.
Also included in the list of retirements was Kazakhstan driver Arman Smailov, who was having his first experience of rallying in the UK, but pulled out following mechanical trouble.