Former double British Rally Champion Jonny Milner and co driver Ian Windress took maximum championship points on the Sixty & Worcestershire National Rally today to take their third victory of the season and in doing so wrapped up the 2010 MSA Gravel Rally Championship with one round remaining.

Needing a victory in the National A element of the penultimate round of the ANCRO-organised series, Milner, the 2002 and 2003 British Rally Champion, was only sixth fastest through the opening stage of the Ludlow-based event and by contrast, championship rivals Roger Duckworth (Silverstone) and Nick Broomfield (Towcester) were some five seconds faster in their Subaru Impreza WRC.

Duckworth was a further two seconds quicker through the 8.76 miles of High Vinnalls and by first service held a slim six second advantage over Milner. However by the end of the seventh test the title was all but decided when Duckworth was sidelined with a broken gearbox leaving Milner with a 12 second cushion over Charlie Payne (Ripon) and Craig Thorley (York) in their Ford Focus WRC.

Milner and Windress needed those maximum points to secure the title with a round to spare but their task was only made easier when Payne suffered clutch failure on the start line of the penultimate stage. Whilst Payne and Thorley were able to complete the route the time loss ensured that Milner would end the day 15 seconds ahead and with the 25 points that he needed to take the championship victory.

In the Production Class category the Subaru Impreza N10 of Alex Allingham (Stalybridge) and Mark Glennerster (Wanborough) triumphed over the Mitsubishi Evo 9 of season long rivals Tom Naughton (Bury) and Horace Saville (Bury) to move one step closer towards taking the Production Class crown. The pair only requires a podium position on the season-ending Trackrod National Rally to secure their second major title in succession after winning the BTRDA Production Class in 2009.

A number of championship contenders had more than their fair share of dramas during the day. Stephen Petch (Hamsterley) and John Richardson (Northallerton) spent the morning quite literally in a spin when they began the event with the wrong compound tyres on their Hyundai Accent WRC. Their day did not improve when the pair suffered a broken exhaust manifold and when the turbo failed during the final loop of stages the pair were relieved just to see the finish ramp. Likewise Nigel Seabold (Headley) and Tim Barton (Epson) had a fraught day in their Subaru Impreza when first their launch control button fell off the dashboard and then the pair had issues with their intercooler spray, but were very happy to finish their first Gravel Championship event of the year.

Robert Cholmondeley (Barnt Green) and Dave Evans (Leeds) took maximum points in the Viking Ford Escort Challenge by virtue of being the only starters in the category.

Milner’s day wasn’t without its problems and a puncture threatened to spoil their hopes late on but the end result is that Milner goes into his local event, the Trackrod National Rally later this month, knowing the title is safe meaning he can enjoy his favourite stages in the Yorkshire forests.

Jonny Milner: “I felt that there was more pressure on me today than when I won the BRC! I was struggling with a long brake pedal in the morning but we did what we had to for the championship and now I’m looking forward to going flat out in Yorkshire!”

Charlie Payne: “I really enjoyed the stages today. We had a small off-road excursion on the one stage where we ran wide and went into the undergrowth, I was waiting for a big bang but thankfully we just popped back onto the road again! The locals really know this event so I challenge them to come to Yorkshire so we can try and even the score!”

Alex Allingham: “We lost a lot of time with a front puncture on one of the morning stages which was pretty frustrating and then we had an issue with hanging dust as well but all in all it’s been a great day out in the woods.”

For full details of championship positions and other information, visit
www.msagravelrallychampionship.co.uk.

Results (2010 MSA Gravel Rally Championship competitors in bold)
1, Steve Perez/Paul Spooner – Ford Focus WRC – 0:44:41
2, Roger Chilman Jnr/Andrew Sankey – Subaru Impreza – 0:45:40
3, Nigel Griffiths/Jon Scott – Subaru Impreza – 0:45:52
4, Jonny Milner/Ian Windress – Toyota Corolla WRC – 0:46:03
5, Charlie Payne/Craig Thorley – Ford Focus WRC06 – 0:46:18

6, John Lloyd/Adrian Cavenagh – Ford Focus WRC – 0:46:30
7, Alex Allingham/Mark Glennerster – Subaru Impreza – 0:46:57
8, Tom Naughton/Horace Saville – Mitsubishi Evo IX – 0:47:04
9, Stephen Petch/John Richardson – Hyundai Accent WRC – 0:47:33

10, Gary Cooper/Jon Riley – Subaru Impreza – 0:47:33

2010 MSA Gravel Rally Championship after Round 4, Sixty & Worcestershire National Rally
1 Jonny Milner 93pts
2 Stephen Petch 76pts
3 Charlie Payne 68pts
4 Alex Allingham 53pts
5 Roger Duckworth 44pts

Picture courtesy of Mark Simpson, www.cmwi.net: Jonny Milner & Ian Windress in action.

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