1 year on from winning the North Humberside Rally, County Durham resident Stephen Petch Junior returned to defend his crown, this time up against much stronger competition. And the young rally driver was right on the pace when a broken crank ended his strong run.
Stephen Petch Junior knew that he would have his work cut out if he had any intention of duplicating his 2006 victory but things did not get off to a good start when the SGP Motorsport run Hyundai Accent World Rally Car suffered electrical problems during testing earlier in the week. With a faulty wiring loom replaced the Hyundai was restored to full health in time to take the start.
Stephen didn’t get off to a good start when he stalled on the start line of the first stage. He then suffered two spins during the 11 miles of Langdale as he re-adjusted to the speed of the Hyundai and was rather surprised when he stopped the clocks third quickest, with just local resident Ryan Champion and current ANCRO championship leader Steve Perez ahead of him.
Stephen said: “We were pretty ragged in there, so to set the third quickest time is really surprising as I felt I could have been a lot neater and tidier.”
Stage 2, Dalby, was a lot tighter, and so Stephen, driven as always by Michael Wilkinson, took it easy. And again he was third fastest, behind the same two drivers. This time young Petch was a mere 5 seconds off the pace of stage winner, local man Ryan Champion.