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7th July 2003


ZR EXTENSIVE tarmac testing and fine tuning paid off for the MG ZR Super 1600 rally team in the Jim Clark Memorial Rally delivering a class lead for four of the first five stages. But on stage six disaster, in the form of a shower of light drizzle on a greasy tarmac ninety-right corner, finished the event for the team.

Overnight spectator stages had seen the Creative Media backed MG ZR of Gwyndaf Evans/ Claire Mole set the special stages around the Royal Yacht Britannia alight with a stunning display of car control, beating many of the faster World Rally Cars.

This was the MG ZR’s first venture onto tarmac in this season’s Pirelli British Rally Championship since it took the honours in the recent Rally of the Midlands. With co-driver Claire Mole, who hails from the village of Paxton, near Duns, Gwyndaf had put together one of his most detailed sets of pace notes, specially tuned to take into account the cars tarmac development work carried out over the past few weeks. Gwyndaf said: “Our testing in North Wales, coupled with the useful information we were able to gain from the Midland rally, helped us set the car up to its best-ever tarmac settings, gaining up to five seconds a mile on our previous times,”

The crew exited Duns with cut slicks on the front and intermediates on the rear ­ a decision Gwyndaf was soon to regret. Gwyndaf said: “At 70 metres from the bend I hit the brakes and realised immediately we were in for a big accident. I shouted to Claire to hang on, this might hurt, and for the next few seconds we were both passengers in a car that was heading for a large granite gate post. The rest, as they say is history,”

Within minutes of their accident the pair was joined by Tapio Laukkanen in his Subaru who hit the same wall, and shortly afterwards Jari Matti Latvala whose Ford Focus was by far the most serious accident. Although the MG ZR had stood up well to the impact, the damage caused was far too great and the crew was forced to retire.

In three weeks time the team head off to the undulating lanes of the Isle of Man for the Manx International Rally with the Super 1600 title fight well and truly on. But who will return over the Irish Sea with the spoils?

Issued by MG Rover Group Communications

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