Jeremy Easson and his co-driver Nigel Gardner, did their Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge title hopes no harm at all this weekend by recording their fourth victory on Saturday, (20th September), in round six, the Park Systems Stages Rally.
Now almost in an unassailable lead, Easson/Gardner need only start the next and final round, the Bulldog Rally on 19th October, to secure the Evo Challenge title, by collecting the seven bonus points that are awarded for entering all seven rounds.
After finishing a hard fought second on Saturday, Mark I¹Anson/Graeme Walker can mathematically still grasp the honours, but only if they win the final round and Easson/Gardner fail to start.
This weekend’s Park Systems Stages heralded the first ever excursion to Scotland for the Evo Challenge, with eight of the 15 crews making the trip north for the event¹s six special stages, which provided 65 miles of competition in the Galloway Forests.
Based in Newton Stewart, the event also formed the sixth round of the Kumho National Rally Championship and the eighth round of the New Pig Scottish Rally Championship, bringing together many of the leading National teams from both north and south of the border.
Following their win on the previous round in July, Easson/Gardner started as favourites, but it was Geoff Lennox/Steve Cressey that led the charge, stage one seeing them record their first Evo Challenge fastest time - an accolade they have been aiming for since the season began.
Easson/Gardner turned the tables following the longer stage two, although their time was equalled by a charging Anthony Willmington/Andy White, who, at this stage, were also in with a shot at the series title.
However, stage three was to prove decisive; seven miles of extremely rough forestry roads causing all sorts of problems. Lennox/Cressey suffered a double puncture dropping them to third, with a similar fate befalling Willmington/White who were relegated to fifth and consequently, their championship hopes were dashed.
The rough conditions also caught out Arwyn Williams/Terry Moore, bent steering causing them to slide off the road and out of the event, whilst David Bagshaw/Steve Griffith destroyed a wheel on an unforgiving rock and also had to retire. Graeme Presswell/Phil Cottam and John Van Camp/Alan Brown also collected punctures but were able to hold on to fourth and sixth places respectively.
This battery of circumstances saw the Evo Challenge field now spread out and with stages four, five and six all without incident, the top three positions were maintained, Easson taking his fourth Evo Challenge victory together with an impressive seventh place overall.
"Mission accomplished", commented a satisfied Easson at the finish "we’ve done just what we set out to do. I could have driven quicker on a number of occasions but it was championship points I was after and there was no point chasing overall honours when I knew we were leading the Evo Challenge. Although we still have to enter the final round, we have made our task far easier by winning again today."
The 2002 Mitsubishi Ralliart UK Evolution Challenge is supported by: Mitsubishi Motors UK, Ralliart Europe, Promax Motorsport, Mintex, Co-ordSport, PIAA, Motec, Compomotive and Motorsport News.
Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge Round 6 – Results
1st Jeremy Easson (Greetham)/Nigel Gardner (New Tredegar) - 1:10.19
2nd Mark I’Anson (Hayden Bridge)/Graeme Walker (Henley) - 1:11.29
3rd Geoff Lennox (Chesterfield)/Steve Cressey (Chesterfield) - 1:13.42
4th Graeme Presswell (Henlow)/Phil Cottam (Callington) 1:14.49
5th Anthony Willmington (Dorchester)/Andrew White (Dorchester) - 1:16.25
6th John Van Camp (Downe)/Alan Brown (Milton Keynes) - 1:19.18Published 23 September 2002