Latest News  Fagg leads BTRDA series after strong result
Wedesday, April 12, 2017



Hunter and Fagg kicking up the dust on their way to 4th Overall

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Photo courtesy of RallySport Media (https://www.facebook.com/rallysportmedia/)
 

37 years old Isle of Man co-driver Rob Fagg moved to the top of the Ravenol BTRDA Rally Series following a fourth place finish on last weekend’s second round of the series, the Somerset Stages.

The JR Hinchliffe Plumbing and Heating sponsored Kirk Michael resident contested the Minehead-based event alongside Welshman Hugh Hunter in a R S Hunter Tarmac backed, Dom Buckley RSC prepared Ford Fiesta R5. The pair were involved in an rally-long battle for the final step on the podium which was ultimately decided on the penultimate stage of the rally.

The event is quite unique in the calendar as not only does it contain a tarmac stage that is run twice, it is also contested over a total of 14 stages with half of those less than two miles in length. Due to this there really is no room for error as any time lost is hard to recover over such short tests.

Crews headed away from the host seaside town in bright conditions which would only get hotter as the day went on, and from the off Hunter and MC Locksmiths backed Fagg signalled their intentions. Top five times over the opening four tests, including joint second quickest on stage two, put them into fourth overall on the leaderboard and in a strong position early in the event. At this stage the gap to leader Stephen Petch in his more powerful Fiesta WRC was 16 seconds.

A further two stages remained before the short service halt and competitive times would see Hunter and Fagg hold onto that fourth spot, just five seconds back on another Fiesta WRC of Connor McCloskey and five clear of Luke Francis (Mitsubishi Evo 9).

Two runs followed up the unique Porlock toll road and despite a small time loss at one of the hairpins, Hugh and Rob remained in fourth, although they now trailed Francis by four seconds with McCloskey a single sound back in fifth. The battle for the final podium spot was hotting up like the weather with six stages remaining!

Stage nine would see the loss of Francis, leaving Hunter and McCloskey to battle it out.

Amazingly the two crews set identical times on stages 9, 10 and 11 to leave them deadlocked, the WRC driver pulled a one second advantage with two stages remaining, the penultimate being the longest of the rally at 8.23 miles.

Despite a committed run Hugh and Burger Man Catering supported Rob suffered an unfortunate overshoot right at the end of the stage costing them time and leaving McCloskey with a healthy cushion heading into the final stage. A clean run saw him take third with Hunter and Fagg fourth, a result they would have taken at the start of the day against the more powerful machinery. Petch took the win with Callum Black in another Fiesta (R5+) taking the runner up spot adding points to those he secured on the opening round.

“It’s been great to be involved in the battle with the WRC cars today and although we were a little hesitant about the pace of the R5 against these and Callum’s R5+, Hugh has driven with renewed confidence in the car and we have shown good pace this weekend” commented Robert Graham & Co Chartered Quantity Surveyors backed Fagg at the finish, “The result means that Hugh is joint top in the drivers’ standings with Callum and I top the codriver after the opening two rounds. I am really looking forward to renewing battle on the Plains Rally in May”.

Before that though Hunter will make the journey across the Irish Sea on this occasion as he and Fagg contest the Manx National Rally on the 5th and 6th May once again using the Ford Fiesta R5.

Rob is supported in 2017 by Robert Graham & Co Chartered Quantity Surveyors, JR Hinchliffe Plumbing and Heating, Burger Man Catering and MC Locksmiths.