(Cover photo credit: Thibault Lefebvre)
‘Killer Kielder’ forest didn’t get it’s fearsome reputation in rallying for nothing – the fast stages lined by unforgiving large ditches (which can swallow a rally car whole!) have proved a challenge for the best in the sport since the 1970s. Back then the forest roads were known to be car-breakers being some of the roughest in the UK, but now the roads are fast and smooth allowing the top modern 4WD cars to average well over 60mph between the trees and ditches. A real test for drivers, machinery, and of course the all-important tyres whose job it is to give both good grip and feedback to the driver on the super-fast stages.
Competing ahead of the British Rally Championship field on April’s Pirelli Rally, in with the fastest Historic ‘Classic’ and Modern two-wheel drive cars in UK forest rallying, the Rallytravel.com Ford Escort Mk2 of David Hutchinson & Jeff Garnett took a brilliant 1st in Class and 14th over-all on their first ever rally in Kielder Forest! As the duo in their Kumho R800 shod, Motoscope.co.uk run car settled in with a steady run through the Saturday morning stages several of their competitors hit trouble with punctures, spins and accidents.
“As usual, the Kumho R800s performed brilliantly on the abrasive gravel roads” reports co-driver Jeff, “leaving myself and Dave to concentrate on getting used to the new stages, and most importantly keeping the car out of the huge ditches!”
The pair did just that, setting a top-10 fastest stage time on the final stage of the afternoon to beat several of the regular BHRC championship contenders back to the Carlisle finish averaging almost 60mph on some of the gravel stages in the process. The Rallytravel/Motoscope team return to Kielder Forest in June, to different stages on the West of the complex for the ‘Carlisle Stages Rally’, aiming to take another class win in another championship with Kumho Tyres.