Overall Results
Results at Half Way
Regularity Times
Time Card 1
Time Card 2
Time Card 3
Time Card 4
Entry List

Winners Malcom Russell / Dave Howe

Second placed Martin Payne / Alan Ogden

Last year's winners Martin Self / Martin Smith might have won this year but for the engine putting a rod through the block on the last section.

Best CMC crew: Roger and Paul Ray

Car 36: Terminal understeer...

An embarrassing moment with the light switch caused Rich McLachlan / Paul Barrett to park in the soggiest part of Euston.

The pre-event publicity for the 21st Preston Rally promised that it would be the biggest and best Preston ever. The forty five crews, including a large contingent from the North and Midlands, who entered the event were not disappointed, even though only half of the field actually finished.

This year's event had a new start venue - Edmonson's Ford garage in Thetford, much more comfortable than the cramped garage at Garboldisham which has become so familiar over the years - and several new bits of route. The efforts that Adrian Gladwin and his team (Jim Bowie - Chief Marshal, Tom Peddle - Secretary of the Meeting) put in to secure the use of these new whites really did help make the event live up to its claims.

One innovation this year that was also well received by the competitors was the use of a roadbook with the whole 170-mile route on colour maps copied under licence from the OS. No plotting to do - Hooray! The bulk of the 'competitive' sections were regularities timed to the second, the nature of the whites made it very difficult to maintain the 30mph average required by the schedule.

Last year's winners Martin Self / Martin Smith led the field away just before 11pm into the first of the Preston's 80 miles of whites, a short blast up Fox Pin which most crews used as a warm up before going into Euston. The first few sections set the scene for the rest of the night at the front of the field: a battle royale between the Corolla at car 1 and the Manta of Malcolm Russell / Dave Howe at 8 with car 3, the Audi 100 of Martin Payne / Alan Ogden, never far off the pace.

Richard McLachlan / Paul Barrett on their first road rally together were the first to hit trouble in Euston. The lights went out going through a big bump just before a square left and the Escort went off into a field on the inside of the bend, Richard being unable to see anything except the flash guns of a pair of photographers. The car was up to its back axle in mud and stayed there until being winched out by a Land Rover when the section closed.

Being well OTL Richard and Paul cut the penultimate section before petrol, Kentford Gravel pits, and tried to restore lost pride by setting a few competitive times. Their brief foray to the front of the leaderboard (two fastest times and a second) ended two sections after petrol when both rear shock absorbers snapped. Another CMC crew destined for an early bath was John Parsons / Brian Jaggs whose Golf Gti was found to be have a split fuel tank at halfway.

A short run round Knettishall airfield saw the demise of Derbyshire crew Philip Deft / Rachel Hill who managed double roll their Escort.

A long section through Ingham and Barnham Slips saw a surprise performance from car 30 - Yorkshire men Dave Rowbottom / Glenn Ellis set a second best time which put them on the way to fourth overall and first Semi-Expert. This section was followed by one of the roughest sections of route - King's Forest and Deadman's Grave - which was cleaned by the top three. Phil Wilkins / Gordon had a surprise on this section, coming across various lights and bits of bodywork from a 205 in front of them, shed as the car progressively destroyed itself on the white. Gordon may have been so shaken by this that in incurred an uncharacteristic fail when he booked in early at the start of Worlington, the last section before petrol. This error would drop the Essex Escort boys down from 7th to 13th overall at the finish.

Worlington was radically different from previous years. The inclusion of some new whites and a new crossing of the A11 vastly improved this familiar section. A blind slot right from a yellow onto the last last white of the first half had most drivers reaching for their handbrakes but the biggest drama was provided by Ben Conway who managed to roll the equipment collecting Toyota Hi-Luxe here. If he weren't a member of SCCON he'd be in with a shout for the Fender Bender.

At petrol Russell / Howe had a slender seven second lead over the two Martins, with Martin Payne?s Audi 100 a mere second further adrift. Roger Ray was one of many servicing their cars, doing some panic re-fitting of his alternator, unfortunately slipping over and hurting his back in his haste. This put him well off the pace for most of the second half but he recovered towards the end and came home a very happy seventh overall and first CMC.

The second half started with a brace of brand new sections, Dingle Nook and Stallode Fen near Mildenhall, both of which contained a series of Fenland (ie scary dykes either side) concrete and mud tracks which by this time were covered in ice. One of these dykes was filled by the Chevette of Robert Reynolds and Alan Collier who 'thought the edge of the track looked better to drive on'.

More rough stuff through Methwold Warren, Santon Downham, Peddars Way and the Fire Tower saw the battle of the three leading crews continue, there was never more than a few tens of seconds between them all night.

After a quick revisit of Knettishall the rally finished back in Euston, by now re-arrowed in the reverse direction by Rob Norrington and his band of merry men. The Preston drama was to continue. The Audi of Payne and Ogden at this point led by five seconds from the two Martins' Corolla with the Russell Manta a mere second adrift in third, although none of them knew this at the time. First to succumb was the Corolla - dramatically putting a con-rod through the block a mile from the finish. The Audi the slipped off the pace by nearly a minute leaving Malcolm Russell and Dave Howe to claim their first ever Preston Rally victory.

The demise of the two Martins (who were towed back to the finish by their rivals in the Audi to claim a consolation 12th overall) allowed the ubiquitous Mike Biss / Cath Woodman to claim third overall in a Nova that they claimed was 'off the pace'.

Spirit of the Rally was awarded to Holly Bailey who got her Nova home in 11th place on her first ever road rally, assisted by veteran Preston competitor Jim Perkins. Praise also goes to Jim Bowie and his marshals for covering all the time controls and most of the passage checks in very cold conditions.