Dream fulfilled for Colley
Steve Colley and Andrew Cowley fulfilled a lifetime dream by taking victory on Rally Isle of Man after three days of Island-wide action.
The Mitubishi Evo IX pair assumed the lead on SS3 on Thursday night after early leader Ron Schumann from Germany crashed his Evo VII out of the event at Cornaa.
That left Colley to battle it out with father and daughter team Nigel and Jade Cannell in a similar Evo IX, with each striking problems at different times, including Colley having to fly replacement parts into the Island on Friday.
Cannell set out for Saturday’s final six stages with a 63-second deficit, but his early charge came to an abrupt standstill when he punctured mid-way through the opening run on Druidale, leaving Colley to arrive on Glencrutchery Road mid-afternoon to thrill the crowds as victor by one minute 47.6 seconds.
Towcester driver Rob Smith and Alun Cook (Ford Escort RS1800) claimed a superb overall podium finish, also making it back-to-back winners of the historic section of the event, Rallee Classicagh.
They held off a determined challenge from Omagh’s Ryan Barrett and local co-driver Paul McCann, with Shrewsbury’s Will Onions and Dave Williams third historic crew home in fifth overall, all in Ford Escort’s.
Jason Pritchard/Phil Clarke in another Escort were sixth, almost certainly enough to secure the Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship with a round to spare.
Stu Bainborough/Charlotte Shimmin (Evo III) completed an all-local podium in the National section behind the front two, and just ahead of TT star Michael Dunlop and local co-driver Rob Fagg, who brought their Escort home in an impressive eighth place overall on Michael’s first ever Manx rally.
Other locals in the top 20:
9, Timmy/Cliona Collins (Evo X); 11, George Collister/Adam Yates (BMW 325); 12, Kex Walker/Dannii Matthews (BMW 325); 15, Dean Quayle/Barrie Ford (Vauxhall Corsa); 16, Will Heavey/Joseph Dooley (BMW E30); 19, Dan Colley/Andrew Dudgeon (BMW E30); 20, Declan Jackson/Barry McCarney (Ford Escort).
Local crew Walter Bridson and Stephen Christian (Honda Civic) scored a commanding victory on the Trophy Rally run over Friday night and Saturday’s stages, finishing clear of Matthew Crowe/Robert Radcliffe (Vauxhall Corsa).