The two SG Petch Motorsport cars had contrasting events on last weekends Coppermine Grizedale Forest Stages when Steve Petch Senior suffered a gearbox failure on his way to the very first stage. Son Stephen, in his Hyundai Accent World Rally Car ran inside the top five for most of the day, eventually finishing seventh overall after losing time in a ditch early on.
With conditions proving to be very tricky, courtesy of snow lined stages and ice in places, the crews were always going to be in for an interesting time and, when thick clouds of fog descended on the stages, crews had minimal visibility with which to negotiate the forestry tracks. Despite this Stephen was on fine form, going fifth fastest through the opening stage, despite not being altogether happy with the handling of the car.
An equally strong run on Stage 2 was on the cards until Stephen was caught out on a tightening corner, slid wide and got stuck in a ditch. Due to the icy nature co-driver Michael Wilkinson had to jump out and push the stricken car out of the ditch, and even with the help of spectators the pair dropped well over a minute and a half, plummeting them to 23rd overall.
Swift work by the SG Petch mechanics saw the handling issues rectified at first service and Stephen then mounted a spirited fight back, eventually returning to Coniston in seventh position overall. Some consolation was the fact that he came home second in class.
Stephen said: “A typical rally for us really, lots of excitement and plenty of dramas. The car was all over the place in the morning and we just got caught out and ended up in a ditch. Once we’d sorted the handling out the car was brilliant, and if you remove the 90 seconds we lost on Stage 2 we’d have won our class and finished fourth overall.”
Despite Steve Petch Snr’s early retirement, the team have experienced a 90 percent reliability record in 2008, a statistic that helped Stephen to take a top 3 in class in the ANCRO Gravel Rally Championship in his first year in a World Rally Car.