Ashley Field and Ryan Vickers in the newly built Darrian T90 GTR took a dramatic last stage victory on the 2015 Rainworth Skoda Dukeries Rally at Donington Park. However, that victory could not have been predicted on the opening stage when two spins in the very slippy conditions put them down in 39th place, some 43 seconds off the pace!
It was Jason Lepley / Howard Pridmore (2.5 litre Escort Mk2) who took the lead on the opening stage, 4 seconds ahead of the David and Alice Tinn in their 4wd Millington powered Proton. However, this lead was not to last and Lepley was to retire on SS2 when the coil pack failed, leaving the Tinns some 16 seconds ahead of Martin Hodgson / Tony Jones (Ford Escort Mk2). Fastest times on stages 2, 3 and 4 meant that the Tinns had a relatively comfortable 35 second lead at the half way point ahead of a chasing pack led by Ian Woodhouse / Paul Rowland (2.5 litre Escort Mk2) just one second ahead of Paul Alexander / Tom Woodburn in the 2 litre Ford Escort.
The second half of the event was when Ashley Field started to get used to his new car and proceeded to set the fastest or joint fastest times on the remaining 4 stages. However, Tinn was not going to give up easily and despite clutch problems getting off the line, he matched Fields fastest times on stages 6 and 7 to retain the lead 28 seconds ahead of Hodgson going into the last stage.
Having started the final stage near the Pit Lane entrance the Tinns only managed to reach Redgate before the engine blew and they were out of the event! This meant the final stage times would sort out the podium places and it was Field who started the final stage in fourth place, who was 9 sec faster than his nearest rival to take the victory. Hodgson also set a good time on the final stage to edge ahead of Alexander and in the process snatched the Class 3 win.
Paul Diamond / Stephen Cox (2.5 litre Escort Mk2) followed by Graeme Bell / Russ Radford ( Escort Mk2) and it was father and son team of John and Rhys Yates who were very happy 6th overall in their recently acquired Fiesta R5. Richard Bliss / Jamie Vaughan won class 2, whilst the spectacular Citroen AX of Andrew Saunders / Steve Griffin won class 1 for cars up to 1400cc.
It was great to see so many Dukeries crews competing on the event and Brian Bell, Simon Belcher and John Griffiths / Nigel Wetton all finished in the top 20. Brian's participation in this event was particularly welcome as he was leading the Dukeries Rally when it last visited Donington Park in 1968!
This was the 56th consecutive Dukeries Rally, but also the first Dukeries Rally that had not run in the Nottinghamshire forest for 45 years! We will miss the forest stages, but we are very pleased to be using Donington Park which allowed us to run another successful Dukeries Rally with a full entry of 80 cars.
Date for the 57th Dukeries Rally - Sunday 23rd October 2016 at Donington Park