A tough final round of the World Rally Championships
Posted on Wednesday, November 18th, 2015 in Rally News
SIMS Rally Team driver Tony Simpson showed great speed and determination to finish the final round of the FIA World Rally Championship, Wales Rally GB, 54th overall and second in the Copart M-Sport DMack Fiesta Trophy [15 November].
The experienced Liverpudlian campaigned his Flying Dog supported Ford Fiesta ST in the Deeside-based international event – the last time the car will be eligible for international competition. Aiming to give the Fiesta a last event send-off, Simpson hit the ground running on the opening stages in Mid-Wales on Friday. Despite running as the first of the Fiesta STs on the road, with no times of the other cars available with which to gauge his pace, Simpson ended the first leg of the rally as leading Copart M-Sport DMack Fiesta Trophy driver, 2.2 seconds in front of rival Tim Rodgers and 45th overall – ahead of a number of far more powerful cars after the opening 84 stage miles. “Day one was possibly one of my favourite days ever of rallying. Tim and I go back a long way, so to be battling with him and getting to the end of the first day and have just over two seconds between us was just proper rallying. That’s what I always dreamt of. That was the perfect day. If Tim had led I would have said the same thing,” explained Simpson. “We didn’t know where we were until after the last stage of the day.”
Heading into Saturday’s tests, in worsening weather conditions, Simpson dropped time on the opening loop of stages, and pushed hard on the second run through the classic Gartheiniog and Dyfi tests. However, heading into a tight right hand corner in Dyfi, Simpson ran wide, the Fiesta rolling over the edge of the road and onto it’s roof. Despite the efforts of nearby spectators, the TV presenter and comedian was forced to retire from the day’s stages, and would return under ‘Rally 2’ regulations for the final day of the event on Sunday.
“At the start of day two, I genuinely thought the pace we were going at was going to be good enough. In Gartheiniog Tim took seven seconds out of us, then more in Dyfi. I don’t think I’ve ever driven like I did on the second run through Gartheiniog – not in terms of carrying the speed that we did and taking the chances we took, and we did take a bit of time back. In the second run through Dyfi, junction 11 claimed me. We were on the wrong line heading into the corner, I tired to scrub the speed off by throwing the car sideways but the deep mud on the outside pulled us in we went off the road and rolled. We were lucky there wasn’t more damage really.”
Thanks to a huge effort by the rallyme.co.uk team, the Fiesta was repaired on Saturday evening, leaving Simpson to fight for honours on Sunday. In challenging wet and windy conditions, Simpson and co-driver Ian Bevan ensured they kept the Fiesta on the road, and with a good margin ahead of the third placed Fiesta ST, drove for a finish on the gruelling event. Despite knowing that without the roll Simpson could have been fighting for Copart M-Sport DMack Fiesta Trophy victory, the The Rydal Gym, Home 2 Office Water Coolers Ltd and PowerMaxed supported driver thinks the 2015 edition of Wales Rally GB was one of the most enjoyable he has ever contested. “There was no way we were going to catch Tim with the time we lost, and we weren’t going to get caught either, so we just drove the stages on the last day and tried to keep out of trouble. We wanted to win, but to finish second with everything that had happened was great. I really wanted to get the car safely to the finish for the lads – for all the effort they went to on Saturday night to get us back going again,” said Simpson.
“The event was everything you could expect from a round of the World Rally Championship in Wales, and more. You can be as prepared as you think, but there will always be something that will bite you and try to catch you out. Overall this was my favourite of the three Rally GBs I’ve done. The first day was incredible. Everybody who goes rallying wants that feeling. Over the last 17 years I’ve never had a day’s rallying like that. That’s what makes doing the event so special. I loved every second!”
Full Wales Rally GB results are available on the official website : www.walesrallygb.com
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