The Mini Cooper S crew of Kevin Haselden and Ryan Pickering have so far proved to have the edge over the field of overall winners, as their now have a lead over Klaus Mueller and Rolf Pellini’s Lancia Fulvia of over three minutes. Klaus and Rolf pulled back a little bit of time but will need a big effort or Mini problems to take the lead.
The team of Haselden and Pickering are carrying on where they left off in John O’Groats last December when they scooped Gold Medals together, proving to be a great combination in the same car. Despite the odd miss, when many are missing lots on this most challenging of red coded events, this crew must now hold their nerve on the final day if they are to embrace the special Winter Challenge toMonte Carlo trophy in the Principality on Thursday evening. In fact, the Haselden Pickering duo enjoyed a storming morning with the least amount of penalties on just 20 seconds.
Setting a storming pace out front on the unofficial leader board are still Paul Bloxidge and Ian Canavan, demonstrating their class as former champions. They lost a minute today due to trip issues which the mechanical assistance crews helped fix at the lunch halt today as connections to the rear of the VW Golf GTi of probes and sensors were sorted. Paul and Ian lead class five by miles and unofficially, lead Kevin and Ryan by nearly three minutes.
Richard Prosser and Peter Blackett have dropped out of the podium position they have held for two days after issues, however, they are still holding fourth overall, a valiant effort from Richard and Peter who are chipping off the rust fast after a long lay off!
Dave Maryon and Andy Ballantyne now move to third in their MGB after climbing back up the field since they were beached in the snow on Leg Two. The duo have been clicking together, Andy typically finding a very tricky hidden right turn down a small track to the control at the end of regularity six at Castellane. Even the Maestro Ryan Pickering missed that one – briefly.
Moving up to fourth overall on the leader board but second in class for the actual awards, Angus McQueen and Mike Cochrane have been pressing on despite a few brushes with walls and their BMW 323i being reversed into last night. Most were still buzzing after the two regularities and the Time Control section deep into the night of Leg Three, Klaus Mueller and Pete Johnson loved it.
Pete Johnson is driving a Golf GTi with owner Phil Phil Cottam alongside. Pete was recently crowned champion navigator and received his coveted Golden Roamer Award at the RAC Club in London only a few weeks ago – he explains below why he jumped seats, the crew are lying ninth on the unofficial leader board and third in class five.
The scenery as the rally ran from Col to Col, from the deep troughs of the valleys to the peaks, was simply stunning. Roads punctuated by snow and ice away from the sun were still to be treated with caution or tail out fun depending on the drop at the side of the road.
The Col de Perty, Col Saint- Jean were just two magnificent climbs up famous rally roads that are as steep as their history. The descents were just as spectacular, through the Gorges de la Meouge for example, whilst the regularities through the vineyards were taxing where drivers had to be as neat as the rows of vines in the winter sunshine. Sisteron is another famous Monte Carlo rally stage which was pretty slippy in parts and narrow with just low walls in places to stop a car going over the edge.
With the last two regularities run in the dark, it was another long but joyous day of fantastic rallying and there so still the crowning glory to look forward to on the final day, Leg five, the Cole de Turini!
Car 28 Pete and Phil, “Well, I don’t think you’re quite right. They’re not the best navigator when you go and grab the best navigators probably either Ryan Pickering or Neil Frost 2022. Phil kindly invited me to drive his goal, which wasn’t my old goal. So yeah, absolutely loving it. Unfortunately, now we’ve got to we’ve enjoyed driving on snow which I’m learning a lot. I’m creating and, getting rid of my bad habits. I’m doing the right things at the right time.
We get along really well, enjoyable, really much. In fact, on the last one, we didn’t need to speed tables, and he really wanted to know what was over these crests and calling bends was back where we ought to be. So that was good for that one. I recognise it being the right car, and he’s loving driving it as well.
We’re just trying to go the right way most of the time. And you know, we are where we are. I think last night we were on the list of 10 classes not in the overall check on the list and where if we can maintain that we’ll be happy. But you know, we’re not all the way through the rally yet.”
Car 6 Klaus, “It was very hard to drive was long run and we’re on our roads and I think not many teams did catch the time in the TC’S and time, us as well. And the problem I think was that slower cars were in front and it was very narrow road and sometimes very slippery, and so it did come up to queues as well it was literally chaotic in the night I think. At the end we had great fun of course, we will catch a lot of points. Seconds, but the other ones did as well. So, nothing happened.”
Unfortunately we had a snowfall on yesterday morning, which means we had to lose a couple of legs but you know, the drive down from the ski resort everybody just loved. It was just just unbelievable scenery. And the weather has given us what we want for winter challenge, the night section last night culminating in the TC you said they were buzzing afterwards. Yeah, I mean, everybody was coming into the to the hotel.
You know, you could see the night rally navigators from over there with a big grin on their faces that can summon competitors who never experienced that forward just couldn’t believe how much fun it was you know?
When we set out it certainly delivered and you know big up to Will Rutherford for the route he’s put together, this year’s Winter challenge.
I mean it’s we’ve gotten over the colder part now and then we might have a little bit snow on the top but it’s all about the Colts and for the rest of the rally. Now we’re up and down. You know and obviously ultimately finishing on the top of the taurine tomorrow lunchtime.”
*The Shires host Round Two as the Challenge Increases