David Cluckie and Luke Tunney (BMW 325) scored a maiden rally victory on Saturday’s March Rally, round three of the Isle of Man Navigational Championship, after a wild night of lead changes.
The win comes after just three events in the main ‘experts’ category for the pair, who are the reigning non-experts champions. It means there have been three different winners in the first three events of what looks a wide-open title chase.
The opening section of the night proved to be the most testing, a multiple loop from Whitebridge to Creg-na-Baa taking in the Honeyhill track, Conrhenny plantation and Begoade. Andrew Dudgeon/Adam Yates (BMW 325) were the early leaders, though they were overhauled by Les and Ian Postlethwaite (BMW 318) on the next regularity section at Dog Kennels and Ballacoar.
The pattern continued as the lead changed again over Axnfel to Creg-na-Baa, Stephen Luton and Janet Craine (BMW 316) taking their turn at the top.
They managed to hold the place on the next section across the Brandywell Road and down Druidale, only to wrong-slot at Summerhill in the north of the island along with Dudgeon/Yates, as the advantage temporarily passed back to the Postlethwaite’s until they missed a codebaord in the same section from St Judes, via Bretney to the Dog Mills.
That handed the advantage to Cluckie and 18 year-old Tunney, who had been in the top three almost throughout, gradually progressing higher, and they maintained it on the remaining sections at the Kella, Curraghs and Ballacrye, a return trip up Druidale and a final run from Creg-na-baa to Whitebridge.
Neil Dalrymple/Alan Teare (Renault Clio) proved their consistency with a fourth runners-up finish in a row to move to the top of the Championship points, the only other crew aside from the winners to avoid recording a fail. Dudgeon/Yates held on for third ahead of Luton/Craine and the Postlethwaite’s, with Kyle Collister and Dan Colley having an off-night and completing in sixth place.
The non-experts class followed the same pattern, Paul Kenney and David Oliver (Vauxhall Corsa) taking the honours for the first time, again making for different winners on each event so far this year.
January Rally class winners James Hampton and Neil Taggart (Ford Puma) claimed second ahead of another accomplished result for 12 year-old Katie Fox, driven by Andrew Holmes (Vauxhall Astra).
The final round before the summer recess is the Mayflower Rally on April 12th.
Chris Boyde – Isle of Man Navigation Rally Championship Secretary – ©Manx Rally Media 2014