Tour Ireland 2015
Robinson and Clarke win Tour Ireland
Tony Robinson and Phil Clarke won Tour Ireland after a nail-biting final day for the Irish edition of Tour Britannia (13-15 May).
After three days of fantastic competition over some of the most spectacular and scenic terrain in Ireland and North Wales, Porsche 911s took a clean sweep of the overall podium as just 10 seconds covered Robinson/Clarke, John Spiers/Susanne Niedrum and Stephen Radcliffe/Peter Gunson
In one of the event’s closest ever finishes, Spiers was able to peg back 18 seconds from Robinson on the last day to end the unique classic race and rally tour just nine seconds behind. Radcliffe’s mighty pace in the races at Anglesey in particular shot him up to third, just one second behind Spiers.
“It’s been superb,” said Robinson. “I’ve always enjoyed Tour Britannia and this year the Irish stages made it doubly good fun.” For co-driver Clarke it was a second major win in six days as he won on the Isle of Man the previous weekend.
Event newcomers Tony and Aston Blake took their Porsche 911 to fourth while Mike Smith and Peter Thomas were first non-Porsche home with their Ford Escort Mk2 in fifth.
In the concurrent regularity rally, the Austin Allegro of rallying veterans Doug Dawe and Ernie Waldron took a dominant victory, leading from the start to finish half a minute ahead of the Porsche of Harry and Lorraine Sherrard. Jason Butler and Paul Graham were only nine seconds further back in their Lancia Fulvia.
Day one (Wednesday 13 May)
From the sunshine and scenery of the Great Orme at Llandudno to the closed public roads in the Wicklow Mountains south of Dublin, day one of Tour Ireland was full of variety and challenge as Robinson and Clarke set the early pace to take a narrow lead in the competition event.
The day started on the spectacular road around the Great Orme with two special stages before the crews headed to Holyhead for the ferry to Ireland. After a short trip out of Dublin, four closed road special stages awaited near the famous Sally Gap.
Robinson’s consistent pace across six special stages left him just 21 seconds ahead of the Porsche of Spiers at the end of the opening day. “That’s been a pretty good first day, with some nice Irish asphalt,” said Robinson.
Meanwhile, Nick and Harry Whale (BMW M3) are also strongly in contention. Whale senior only drove the car for the first time on the one-mile run to the start of the opening stage but was quickly setting competitive times despite catching a slower car on the second run over the Great Orme.
They also dropped time on the first two Irish stages as the M3 was set-up too stiffly, but some rapid changes at service had the car better suited for the second pair of stages and they clawed back a chunk of time to end the day in fifth place. Ahead of them were Radcliffe/Gunson and Jonathan and Christine Miles (Ford Escort Mk1).
Day two (Thursday 14 May)
Day two of Tour Ireland was all about racing with two races at Mondello Park followed by a race Anglesey and a ferry crossing in between. It proved to be another good day for Robinson and Clarke as they increased their overnight lead to 27 seconds.
The day started at a wet and slippery Mondello and Robinson proved master of the conditions to with both races. Spiers also starred with a battling second place in the opening race followed by a fighting drive from the back of the grid to second place after a problem with the brake lights on his Porsche 911.
In trouble in Ireland was the stunning BMW M3 of Whale, which was sidelined with a crank sensor issue while engine dramas forced Duncan Buck to retire his Porsche 911.
By the time crews arrived at Anglesey the sun was shining and the spectacular location delivered an excellent race as Radcliffe swept ahead to win in his Porsche 911. The wrong tyres had left Radcliffe struggling in the Mondello rain, but he dominated in Wales.
Behind Radcliffe, a mighty battle raged for second and an inspired Steve Wood took the place in his Chevrolet Camaro. Robinson, however, struggled for grip and finished seventh but still retained his overall lead over Spiers as Radcliffe moved up to third from Mike Smith (Ford Escort Mk2) and the Camaro of Wood and Stuart Scott.
Day three (Friday 15 May)
Day three was all about North Wales with another race at Anglesey and then five asphalt special stages including the incredible hillclimb at Nant Gwrtheyrn. Robinson set out to match the pace of Spiers at Anglesey as Radcliffe stormed clear at the head of the race. However, a spirited chase by Harry Whale got the BMW right onto the tail of the Radcliffe Porsche at the flag.
Radcliffe later set the pace on the fast runways at Llanbedr, but Robinson kept his nerve to score a narrow but deserved victory as the survivors arrived back in Llandudno late on Friday afternoon.
All three Porsche crews had driven great tours and both Robinson and Radcliffe could reflect on the time lost due to lack of grip in races. Spiers, meanwhile, had fought hard from the back of the grid in the rain at Mondello.
Best of the non-Porsches was the Escort of Smith/Thomas after a consistently strong performance while the top six was completed by a cracking run from the Peugeot 205 GTi of Steve Blunt and Yan Griffiths.
The Whale BMW missed the Anglesey race on day two, but rejoined on the final day to set an impressive pace while the Scott/Wood Camaro was unable to start day three due to power steering problems despite the team working all night to try and fix the car.
Full event results are at:
Tour Britannia: 2/3 October 2015
Our other major event for 2015 is our traditional Tour Britannia which we are going to centre in Surrey. Our key venue in October is the RAC’s Woodcote Park, which worked so well for us on Mini Britannia in May this year. They went to so much trouble to make us welcome and we were so fortunate to receive such great hospitality at this blue riband venue. However our plan is to expand Mini Britannia into a two-day event.
We will therefore meet for documentation on Thursday evening, 1 October 2015, which will leave us with Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd October for two full days of on-the-road action.
Our next newsletter will give full details but please get the date in your diary for what promises to be another excellent event with some superb venues.
Andrew Brodie & Richard Payne came third in Regularity in this years Tour Britannia - here is their report:
The pair campaigned their ‘72 Citroen SM against various exotica including Aston DB42/4, Porsche 911's, E-type and a full rally spec Lancia Fulvia HF1600.
This sort of event is a must do. You don't need to thrash your car or be outstandingly quick, but you do need to be able to drive precisely and a little preparation goes a long way. Regularity requires you to drive difficult (say a country house driveway, with bridges, chicanes) and easy stages, arriving to time controls within a target time to the second, else penalties are accrued. Amazingly satisfying when you arrive on time!
Imagine lapping Oulton park, at a set speed, and doing two laps within the same time to the second. Sounds easy........ Or driving along country lanes at various low speeds, to find a hidden time control around the bend where again you must arrive on time. All this while navigating so you don't get lost! There is also a 'round the cones' special test with a wide time bracket available, and you can try to beat the Bogey time if you want (bet you won't be able to resist trying). Add some wonderful liaison sections on great roads and it is tremendous fun.
We had a pleasant scrutineering then an interesting look over the other competitors cars (including the racers) all of whom are friendly and quickly form a cadre. Then off we go, starting with a special test on a slippery Kart track at Oulton Park, followed by consistency on the main circuit in the very wet. Then our first error on a road regularity. We miss-communicated at a Y junction down a lane and turned at the first left only to immediately see the time control on the other branch of the Y. A quick reverse but still a 46 second penalty. Easy peasy.
Mostly no great worries for day two, starting with the wonderful Great Orme at a steady (!) 30 MPH. We do manage to read the somewhat mis-leading tulip at a cross-roads and go left. A U turn, a dash back, and we are back on rhythm and pick up no extra penalties. A nice consistency on the wonderful Trac Mon follows, where we lose count of the laps and exit early (but good consistency) and a spot of luck as the timekeepers do not notice. Extra laps count 3 minutes penalty, missed time controls 1:30. Then a brilliant run on another Kart track, where the last bit is so twisty you can't keep on time, but we are only late 4 secs. 4 secs-- ages. Except it is an instant when you are driving. We ace the cone special test and are 1 second slower than the fastest- the Lancia. Remind me to use the right gear.
Day three involves two road regularities, a well known Country House drive- under the very solid bridge and a 90 deg bend and through another gate and 90 deg, all at a metronomic 28 mph. Then an 8.3 mile run up and down Llanbedr runway with detours and chicanes, and invisible timing controls among other delights. One particularly exciting test being a very steep hill-climb round multiple hair-pins, from the sea up to the top of a Welsh hill at a required speed of 26mph.
Pictures - T B 2014
Steve Kilvington has images from Oulton Park, The Great Orme, Denbigh, Anglesey Circuit and Nant Gwrtheyrn now available online.
The website link is http://www.sbkmotorsport.com
Latest additions to the website (sidebars)
Tour Britannia Daily Report - Day to Day commentary
Results Tour Britannia 2014