Below are reports from 2007 for rally teams sponsored by Luke Furse Earthmoving Ltd.
Lloyd Furse/Rob Short 2007 Cambrian Rally
Championship Success in Second Season
Lloyd Furse had good reason to celebrate recently, when, at the age of barely 21, he won the 2007 Association of South Western Motor Clubs' rally championship. Despite suffering mechanical failure and not finishing the Cambrian Rally in north Wales, the Holsworthy-based Subaru Impreza driver learned afterwards that he had already scored sufficient points to take the regional title, at the same time becoming one of the youngest ever champions.
Lloyd and co-driver Rob Short made the gruelling eight-hour trip to Llandudno for the Cambrian Rally, knowing they had the chance to clinch both the ASWMC and BTRDA Junior Drivers' championships. The pairing made their usual determined start on tracks made slippery by overnight rain, climbing the leaderboard after the opening nine-mile stage in Penmachno South. But it all went wrong for the Devon youngsters on the following Penmachno North stage. "We were increasing our pace nicely, until we came to a hairpin about five miles into the stage" said Lloyd. "Coming out of the corner, I tried to change gear, but the clutch pedal went straight to the floor and we had no drive to the wheels. I pumped the pedal to try and get some hydraulic pressure, but the clutch plate itself had shattered, so we had to pull over and retire there and then". Frustratingly, Lloyd's main rival for the BTRDA Junior title, Henri Grehan, went on to win his class and claim the championship by a scant three points. However, Lloyd and Rob soon overcame their initial disappointment when they learned that they had clinched the ASWMC Championship and, as a bonus, had finished 10th in their class in the main BTRDA Gold Star championship.
Speaking after the rally, Lloyd grinned as he said: "We've had a thoroughly enjoyable season – we have learned so much with each event we've done, and it justifies the decision to make all the long trips to Wales chasing the BTRDA Junior Championship, as well as the ASWMC regional title." He continued: "Rob is a superb co-driver as well as a friend, and his contribution to the team has been a huge part of our success. When he was unavailable to do the Plains Rally, I had another exceptional young co-driver Josh Burton who I sincerely believe will go on to be as famous as his dad in the rallying world. Also, I owe huge thanks to our support team – Ian Coward, Adam Parkhouse, Martin Waters, Harvey Kendall, Daniel Coles, Ian Griffin, Andrew Cann and Tim Edwards. Without them, plus the invaluable help from Richard Fishleigh, who mentors my driving and has done such a superb job in helping me prepare my car, we simply could not have hoped to do so well in these extremely competitive championships. We now look forward to defending the ASWMC title which commences with the Wyedean Rally in February 2008.
Writer: Ian Harden
Richard Fishleigh/Tim Young 2007 Season
A superb eighth place overall on the recent Tempest Rally in Hampshire was the culmination of a very successful season for Launceston-based rally driver Richard Fishleigh. Throughout the year, Richard combined speed and consistency in his self-prepared Subaru Impreza Sti, taking numerous notable results in rounds of the prestigious BTRDA Gold Star Championship. Consequently, he secured eighth place in the series, and fourth in his class, being the first non-World Rally Car behind overall winner Will Nicholls.
Richard's season started in appalling conditions at the Wyedean Rally in February. Heavy overnight snow made the tracks in the Forest of Dean extremely slippery, but Richard's experience and confidence in his car paid dividends as he avoided the many crashes that littered the sidelines. Despite losing time on stage three, Serridge, and dropping from 8th to 20th place, he fought back to set seventh overall fastest time through the last stage, Piercefield 2, finishing strongly in 12th overall and seventh in class.
It was 'all change' for Richard's next outing at April's Somerset Stages Rally in the woods around Minehead. Dry, sunny conditions replaced the previous round's snow, and regular co-driver Tim Young returned to the Impreza's hot seat. The experienced pairing gelled instantly, settling into 19th place early on, before substantially increasing pace and marching up the leaderboard. The rally included two tarmac stages on Porlock Toll Road, and it was here that Richard encountered his only problem. Coming up behind a much slower car with mechanical problems, he had to squeeze past on the narrowest part of the track to overtake. Unfazed by the incident, Richard and Tim returned to full pace on the afternoon's gravel stages, setting three times inside the top ten on the last four stages and netting 10th overall and ninth in class.
The action moved to south Wales one month later, for the Red Dragon Rally. Here, Richard and Tim made steady progress throughout the six long stages in Resolven and Rheola forests, climbing from 25th place after the opening stage to an eventual 17th at the end of the day.
July's Quinton Rally is one of the most feared events in the calendar, as its route includes the ultra-fast but narrow tracks of Caeo and Crychan forests in mid-Wales. "It's my first time at the Quinton, but I know you need a tidy approach to finish safely" said Richard before the event. True to his word, Richard made no mistakes in the morning runs, moving up from 21st after stage one to 18th by the service halt at Llandovery. An equally consistent approach in the afternoon proved beneficial as the hot, dry weather coupled to the abrasive stage surface took its toll on competitors' tyres. Staying puncture-free, Richard and Tim powered to an impressive 13th fastest on the last stage, bringing their Impreza home undamaged and in 16th overall, 5th in class.
The Woodpecker Rally is well-respected by competitors both for its slick organisation and for the unique challenge presented by the little-used Radnor forest on the Welsh borders. With a huge entry in his class, Richard knew he would have his work cut out to achieve a good result. Starting strongly against a field that included many ex-World Rally Championship cars, he forced his way into 23rd place, before dropping time on the tight and twisty Hopton stage, slipping to 30th. Refusing to be panicked by the setback, Richard set a steady pace for the remaining miles, a policy that was repaid handsomely as he blasted through the 9-mile long Haye Park stage to move up to 22nd overall, and 14th in class at the finish.
Just three weeks later, Richard returned to the Welsh forests for the 25th running of the Plains Rally. With the action taking place on the power-sapping tracks in Dyfi and Gartheiniog forests, Richard hard-charged his way into 12th place after the opening stage. Realising that he was losing on outright speed to his rivals' World Rally Cars, he concentrated on taking a clean line through the corners on the following stages, enabling him to stay in touch with the leaders. On the afternoon runs, Richard enjoyed a close battle with long-time BTRDA competitors Gary Cooper/Jon Riley. The two Subaru Impreza drivers pushed their cars to the limit, but Cooper ultimately gained the upper hand by just seven seconds. Even so, Richard was happy with 16th overall and 10th in class: "On these tracks, the WRC cars will always be faster. But we had a good scrap with Gary and Jon, and we've finished with the car in good condition" he said.
Richard's final event – The Tempest Rally, based around Aldershot – produced his best result of the year. Returning to the scene of his 2006 success, where he finished second overall, he started in determined fashion, ninth after the opening stage and looking to move up. A huge battle for class honours soon ensued between Richard's Subaru and Martyn England's Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9. After setting identical times on stage two, Richard's continuous pressure over the following miles bore fruit as England rolled his car out of the event, leaving Richard with a healthy class lead. Despite being unable to catch eventual rally winner Will Nicholls and his Subaru Impreza WRC, Richard continued to set a blistering pace, always inside the top ten, to come home eighth overall and win his class by nearly six minutes from Robert Ingham's Ford Sierra Cosworth. At the finish, co-driver Tim Young was quick to praise Richard's driving throughout the season: "Richard is a very committed and natural driver, and makes very few mistakes. In particular, he is good at memorising stages, which is why he is so fast on second runs. His car is always superbly prepared, and he does brilliantly against the World Rally Cars. As a team, we've got a very good understanding, and it's been a pleasure to compete with him this season. Here's hoping for an equally good 2008!"
Writer: Ian Harden
Lloyd Furse/Josh Burton 2007 Plains Rally
Son of a legend helps Furse flourish on Plains Rally
A last-minute replacement co-driver proved to be a successful partner for Lloyd Furse at the recent Plains Rally in mid-Wales, as the Launceston driver teamed up with 16 year-old Josh Burton, the son of national rallying legend Andy Burton, to power their Subaru Impreza through the muddy tracks in Gartheiniog and Pantperthog forests, finishing 29th overall, a result that consolidated Lloyd's lead in the BTRDA Junior Driver category.
The day started in sombre mood, as they paid tribute to Colin McRae by signing a Book of Remembrance and running with memorial stickers on their cars. The new pairing came about when Lloyd's regular co-driver Rob Short became unavailable at short notice. Despite never having met or competed together, the two youngsters immediately gelled, storming through the opening stage just one second behind Lloyd's main championship rival, Henri Grehan in a Ford Escort. At service in Dollgellau, Lloyd laughed as he reported: "Josh and I are getting on well. We are spending more time on road sections chatting about Andy Burton's car than about our own day!"
In the afternoon, the duo climbed the leaderboard, using the power and grip of their four-wheel drive Subaru to stay comfortably ahead of Alun Roberts, another BTRDA Junior series contender.
At the finish, Lloyd praised his co-driver's valuable contribution: "Josh did a superb job today – I'd be pleased to team up with him again in the future. He was brilliant on the pace notes, which gave me real confidence to push on."
Josh was equally upbeat about their partnership: "Lloyd's an excellent driver. His Subaru is really well prepared, and it is such a quiet car compared to when I co-drive my dad. The noise inside the Peugeot Cosworth is incredible – it's like having an atomic bomb going off in my ear."
Richard Fishleigh/Tim Young had a blistering run to finish 16th overall in their Subaru Impreza.
Lloyd will now give the hard-worked Subaru a thorough overhaul before the Llandudno-based Cambrian Rally in November. This is one of the most challenging rallies on the national calendar using the world famous Clocaenog and Penmachno Forests and it is where Lloyd will hope to clinch the BTRDA Junior Driver's title.
Writer: Ian Harden
Lloyd Furse/Rob Short – 2007 Quinton Stages Rally
Lloyd and Rob lead BTRDA Junior Championship
after a dusty day in Mid Wales forest
It is always pleasing when a young rally driver finds himself leading the class in a major national championship, and this is exactly what happened to Launceston's Lloyd Furse after the recent Quinton Stages Rally. On his first-ever visit to the fast, flowing forest tracks around Llandovery in mid-Wales, Lloyd and co-driver Rob Short paced themselves sensibly throughout the day, bringing their Luke Furse Earthmoving-backed Subaru Impreza home 25th overall, scoring sufficient points to take the lead in the BTRDA national rally championship's Junior Driver category.
Over 120 crews started the Quinton Stages Rally, an event with a reputation as one of the toughest in the calendar. Rising to the challenge, Lloyd drove faultlessly over the opening group of stages in Halfway and Caeo Forests, consolidating his position just outside the top 30. After changing tyres at the service halt, Lloyd and Rob noticeably increased pace, moving up to 28th overall as rival crews faltered in the warm, dusty conditions. But, just as they were comfortably placed for a strong finish, the youngsters received a timely reminder to not get over-confident. On the very last stage, coming over a blind crest at full speed, Lloyd misjudged the distance to the following corner and their Subaru slid off into the undergrowth, getting stuck on a large rock. Fortunately, spectators and marshals were on hand to push them off, and they continued to the finish, despite damage to the car's door sills and underside.
"That was a tough day by anyone's standards. I can see where the Quinton gets its reputation from" said Lloyd after the rally. "We thought a good result was on the cards if we drove sensibly, so we used our local rivals, Richard Fishleigh and Tim Young (who finished 16th in a Subaru Impreza) as a benchmark, speed-wise. They are more experienced, so it was useful to pace ourselves against them. It is a completely unexpected bonus to be leading the BTRDA Junior championship, as the series is always hotly contested. Hopefully we can drive equally sensibly at the next round, and keep our position at the top."
Lloyd and Rob's next outing will be the Woodpecker Rally in September, which uses the daunting Radnor Forest complex on the Welsh borders.
Writer: Ian Harden
Lloyd Furse/Rob Short – 2007 Somerset Stages Rally
Hard-fought but friendly competition was the name of the game at the recent Somerset Stages Rally, as local rally crew Lloyd Furse and co-driver Rob Short fought an epic Devon -v- Cornwall battle with Launceston's Richard Fishleigh / Tim Young over 11 special stages in the woods around Minehead. After 45 miles of high-speed driving, Fishleigh won their personal battle, but only just, by 56 seconds and Furse / Short achieved a best-ever Somerset Stages result of 14th overall.
Furse, from Holsworthy and Short from Burrington, started strongly, pressuring their rivals from the off. After the opening loop of three forest stages, they lay 20th overall, just 10 seconds behind Fishleigh / Young in a high-class field including ten Ex World Rally Championship Cars, and six-times Somerset Stages winner, Andy Burton in his 300 horsepower Peugeot 306 Cosworth.
Both crews moved up the standings on the next stage, Porlock, using the superb grip from their four-wheel drive Subaru Impreza cars to full effect on the twisting tarmac toll road. Fishleigh's run, however, had its dramas when the car in front of him broke its driveshaft early in the stage, and he had to squeeze past on the narrowest part of the road.
In the afternoon, the pace increased and the battle intensified. Fishleigh, in trying to keep ahead of his young rival, set equal third overall fastest time on the last two stages, while Furse drove fast enough for Short to laughingly admit "I've never been through a stage at that speed before. At one point, we approached a hairpin so quickly that Lloyd had to deliberately put the car into a spin to prevent us sliding straight on at the corner."
At the finish, Furse reported having thoroughly enjoyed the battle. "Richard and Tim are an experienced crew as well as personal friends, they have given us a lot of help with our rallying. We were pleased to push them so hard today - it's a shame we couldn't find those extra few seconds to beat them" he said. He also praised Short's contribution highly. "The Somerset forest tracks are very quick, and it is difficult for a co-driver to give the driver enough warning of the corner ahead, but Rob did a superb job guiding me today. We are already looking forward to our next event, the Tricky Stages in June. We finished fifth last year, and are hoping to improve on that".
Writer: Ian Harden
Lloyd Furse/Rob Short – 2007 Wydean Rally
Treacherous conditions at the Wyedean Rally in Gloucestershire didn't stop Lloyd Furse, from Ashwater, and Rob Short, from Burrington, North Devon, making a superb start to their first full season in the BTRDA National Championships.
Lloyd and Rob drove sensibly in their self prepared Subaru Impreza to finish 28th overall and to win both the Forest of Dean Youth Trophy for the Highest Placed Young Driver Under 21yrs and the famous Michael 'Beef' Park Trophy for the Highest Placed Young Co-Driver Under 21yrs.
The duo set about building on their good start on stage two, Mailscot, but, instead, lost several minutes stuck on a snowbank after overshooting a corner. Undeterred, they fought back, and were rewarded with a superb second overall fastest through the next stage, 12 seconds behind four-time Wyedean winner and national rallying legend Andy Burton in his awesome 300 horsepower Peugeot-Cosworth hybrid car.
Changing to super soft-compound tyres at the Chepstow Racecourse service halt paid dividends in the afternoon, as Lloyd and Rob found grip where many of their rivals could not. They set times inside the top 20 for the rest of the day, rapidly climbing the leaderboard and making up for their stage two problems.
"That was an incredibly tough day" said Lloyd. "The stage surface was constantly changing – one minute we had loads of grip, the next we would hit sheet ice which was like driving on thin air. We are delighted to win the trophies for best Under 21s and we have scored a good haul of BTRDA championship points, which has given us the confidence to try and do even better at the next round."
Lloyd and Rob's next event will be the Minehead-based Somerset Stages Rally in April.
Writer: Ian Harden
Photo: Rally Action Photography