Latest News  Gearbox woes halt Bulldog charge
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Thursday, April 28, 2011
By Jon Suter

Cannon Tech (Scotland) supported Manxman Rob Fagg completed last weekends Bulldog International Rally of North Wales alongside young Welshman Nick Cristofaro, despite fighting gearbox problems right from the start.

The Welshpool based event was the second round of both the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship and the Fiesta SportTrophy which the pair had started strongly on the opening round back in February.

The event began with the crews tackling the Llangywer, Penllyn and Dyfnant forest stages and it was in the first of those that the problems would begin. As Nick selected second gear for one of the tighter turns in their TEG Sport prepared Ford Fiesta ST, the car immediately jumped back out of gear. It was a problem that they would have to deal with for the remainder of the event.

Despite the issues they were lying in 11th place in the Formula 2 category and sixth in the Fiesta’s with just a short one mile run around the Woodyard spectator stage before they headed into service.

With no way to remedy the gearbox fault, Nick and Synergy IT backed Fagg headed off for the second loop of stages which included the 15 mile Gartheiniog test, the longest of the event. A clean run, gearbox aside, saw them move up to fifth place in the Fiesta’s, just 11.7 seconds back from the fourth placed crew of Osian Pryce/Iestyn Williams and 26.4 from the third placed John Boyd/Chris Williamson.

With plenty of miles left to go it was still all to play for.

The eight mile run through Dyfi saw the gap close marginally to those in front, but the gaps went back out again following the Big Ray test as the crews returned to Welshpool for the second service.

Following a routine service is was back out for a re-run of the previous three stages and a decision on whether to push for fourth or take fifth. A committed run through Gartheiniog made Nick and Rob’s minds up as they closed the gap to Pryce to just 1.3 seconds in what was now the battle for third following Boyd’s retirement.

But midway through the second pass of Dyfi, as Nick went down through the gears of the Pirelli backed Fiesta it became stuck in third gear. With no obvious cause they were forced to complete the stage with just one gear and with that lost any chance of fighting for the final podium place. A quick check prior to the final stage found no fix and they entered the final five mile test with the goal of making it to the end. Nick produced a committed but calculated drive as he nursed the car through the stage setting a time just 13 seconds slower than their first run.

Fourth place in the Fiesta’s was theirs and those points are enough to see them hold onto second place in the series after two rounds, while eighth in Formula 2 classification leaves them still in fifth place. While the result was not what they hoped for they were happy to take it given the dramas, as Rob explained.

“It has certainly been a tough day with the gearbox issues right from the off, but Nick has driven round them and I think we would have taken this result at the start of the day with the level of competition were up against, so we have got to be happy. There are plenty of positives we can take away from today and we can come back stronger on the Pirelli in four weeks.”

Prior to that though, Rob is making a  trip across the water in the opposite direction to Ireland as he contests to Monaghan Stages on Sunday April 17th alongside John Stone in his Skoda Fabia WRC. The pair will be teaming up for the second time following a third place finish back in February on the Chris Kelly Memorial Stages. Stone is using the event as further preparation for his 2011 REIS MSA Asphalt Championship campaign.

Rob is supported in 2011 by Cannon Tech. (Scotland) Ltd (, Robert Graham & Co Quantity Surveyors, Synergy IT (, Cable Design Services (, Holton Homes (, Nicky Grist Motorsport ( and Fastime Stopwatches (