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UK Hillrally: Ray Kempster takes Victory in Hillrally 2006.

Chipping Norton’s Ray and Yvonne Kempster emerged victorious from a thrilling Hillrally 2006 supported by Britpart, the final round of this year’s Matador Tyres National Hillrally Championship, after 19 timed stages in the forests around Bala, Bryn and Penllyn in Mid-Wales last weekend.

Bromsgrove’s James Webb and co-driver Chris Hammond clinched second overall by a single second in a Buggy GM Proto from Huddersfield’s Matt Harrison and co-driver James Baxter. Bridgnorth builder Ian Rochelle and co-driver Amanda Garratley did enough with a troubled eighth place to clinch the 2006 Matador Tyres National Hillrally Championship by a single point. "It was a matter of keeping going and taking no risks on the final stages," said Milner Protruck driver Kempster. "It’s a great feeling to finish the season with a win."

"It was not the best of rallies for me with a costly puncture and a broken third gear," said a jubilant Rochelle. "But I knew that the championship would go down to the wire. I knew I had to finish and it would be close. It’s great to win the title after the success on the Baja. It’s my last event before I go off and do the Dakar Rally in January, so confidence is on a high now."

Organised by Marches 4x4 Motorsport Management Ltd - the team behind August’s inaugural Baja GB - the Hillrally attracted an impressive 40-plus car entry and it was Mark Andrews who headed into the outright lead after the opening two specials around Bryn and Ty-Ucha, only for rear differential problems to thwart his progress soon after.

Huddersfield’s Richard Kershaw took up the reins at the head of the field in his GSR 206, with Dan Lofthouse in close contention. The pair set a string of fastest times through the opening morning, but Kershaw lost his chance of taking victory with engine problems.

Kempster threw down the gauntlet towards the end of the first day and edged into a 1m 41s overnight lead with fastest times on the 10th and 11th stages. Pershore’s Tom Rimell held second position in his 3M Challenger and Harrison was third, a mere five seconds ahead of Webb.

Pre-event favourite and championship leader Rochelle - the winner of the inaugural Baja GB - struggled to match the leaders over the opening stages and his cause was not helped by a puncture and transmission problems, which saw him lose third gear. Rochelle completed the opening day in 11th overall, four places behind a troubled Lofthouse.

Warrington newcomer Mike Moran rolled his Bowler Wildcat, Llandeilo’s Mick Maskelyne crashed his Whitbread Spaceframe, Bedworth’s Tim Marsh suffered engine-related problems and in the National B category Onneley’s Gary Sanders-Peppitt rolled his Land Rover Discovery out of contention.

There were a further seven timed sections in leg two and Kempster set the fastest time in the opening Bryn special, but noticeably eased his pace over the closing sections to conserve a hard-earned win. Lofthouse set a string of five consecutive fastest times to leap up the leaderboard and into fifth place.

In a dramatic last stage tussle with James Webb, Harrison set the fastest time in his bid to clinch the runner-up spot, only to lose out to his rival by a mere second, with Webb missing out on the championship by a single point. Tom Rimell, Lofthouse, Robin Rymell, Northern Ireland’s David Johnston, championship winner Rochelle, Roland Marlow and Taunton’s Pete Rowe completed the top 10, with Marlow overhauling Rowe on the final stage. Regular runners Jeremy Fearn and Frazer Williams were classified outside the top 10.

"We were delighted with the turn-out for the last round of the series and how competitive this championship has become in such a short space of time," said Secretary of the Meeting and event spokesman Andy Flynn. "There is a lot of interest in ths type of motorsport at the moment, on the back of the success of the Baja GB, and next year is already looking indeed."

Final results after SS19:

01) Ray Kempster/Yvonne Kempster | Milner ProTruck | 02:33:37
02) James Webb/Chris Hammond | Buggy GM Proto | 02:36:55
03) Matt Harrison/James Baxter | Milner ProTruck | 02:36:56
04) Tom Rimell/Brian Sleigh | 3M Challenger | 02:38:55
05) Dan Lofthouse/Sally Lewis | Lofthouse Proto LD4 | 02:40:02
06) Robyn Rimell/Mick Lay | Hobley Proto | 02:40:43
07) David Johnston/Tim Hamilton | Bowler Wildcat | 02:42:58
08) Ian Rochelle/Amanda Garratley | Bowler Wildcat | 02:44:07
09) Roland Marlow/Frances Sykes | Land Rover | 02:45:48
10) Pete Rowe/Quentin Wright | Land Rover | 02:46:28

2006 Matador Tyres National Hillrally Championship

Positions after round 3 of 3:

01) Ian Rochelle/Amanda Garratley | 222 pts
02) James Webb/Chris Hammond | 221 pts
03) Tom Rimell/Brian Sleigh | 208 pts

2006/10/23 | 13:25 CET | Editor: mr/Neil Perkins

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