2012 TWINGO RENAULTSPORT TROPHY UK: TODDS LEAP INTERNATIONAL RALLY NI PREVIEW
Twingo Trophy: Take two on tarmac
The inaugural Twingo Renaultsport R1 and R2 Trophy UK follow the MSA British Rally Championship onto asphalt for their second successive sealed surface event in 2012 this weekend, as crews head across the Irish Sea for Todds Leap International Rally NI, part of the Ulster Rally.
The French one-make series are brand-new to the British Isles in 2012, having been successfully launched in France and Italy last year. Two series, one for the Twingo R1, the other for more powerful Twingo R2 rally cars, run alongside Britain’s premier rally championship, offering prizes on each event and an end of season prize-drive for each series winner.
So with a drive in the next model of Renault rally car on the final round of the French Rally Championship on offer, the Twingo crews have made a great impression in the all two wheel drive BRC.
Garry Pearson and Craig Wallace have already secured the Twingo R1 Trophy, but their prize drive on Rallye du Var is also dependent on victory in the British Junior Rally Championship at the end of the season.
With two wins from three events, the young Scot from Jim Clark’s home town of Duns is on course, merely needing to hold his nerve on the Ulster lanes to take the title and the drive in France despite a non-finish at home.
The fight for Twingo R2 Trophy honours called on Cheshire and California to do battle. The much more powerful R2 variants of Renault’s Twingo “pocket rocket” screamed through all three BRC forest events, although not scoring Twingo points until the second round.
San Francisco’s Nick Allen and Solihull’s Andy Bull took first blood in Wales, after Chris Ingram and Joe Cruttenden had fuel problems. The American showed great camaraderie when he helped Ingram to the finish on the end of a tow rope; not strictly in the rule book, but proving that chivalry is alive and well.
Ingram didn’t have the chance to help Allen in the infamous Kielder Forest complex, after transmission trouble sidelined the affable Yank. But it was another infamous road that caught him out on tarmac, landing badly after the tricky Swinton crossroads bump and smashing into a tree. Ingram too had a big moment at the crossroads, but he kept the power on, he and new co-driver Ieuan Thomas taking top spot and with it scoring points for Renault UK.
With Allen’s two retirements leaving him on the back foot, he has decided to skip the lanes around Antrim and Londonderry, leaving Ingram needing just to start the event to claim a Clio or Mégane prize drive on Rally du Var.
However he will no doubt wish to prove his pace against a Twingo Evo driver who is not registered for points in Ulster. Double British Rally Champion Guy Wilks will contest the event in an identical car this weekend as a guest one-off drive, sharing valuable test data with the youngster.
The Todds Leap International Rally NI is based at Antrim’s Junction 1 retail outlet park which, as well as providing the venue of the service area, is also the location for the rally’s start and finish. At 13.00 on Friday cars leave the shopping centre for a leg of six stages and 50 competitive miles in the afternoon and evening, before returning to Antrim for the overnight halt at 21.00. A further eight stages totalling 72-miles take place on Saturday, with the finish scheduled to take place at 17.20 back at Junction 1.