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Nightfall produces nervous navigators

After the sad retirement of Thomas and Roger Bricknell’s VW Golf GTI from the lead of the Three Legs of Mann with differential failure, another father and son took the limelight, this time in different cars fighting for the lead!

Nightfall produces nervous navigators

Leg 1 ends with close battle at the top, leg 2 begins to bite

Howard Warren and Iain Tullie engaged in a fierce battle with Howard’s son Matthew and navigator Ryan Pickering for the lead with Howard’s red Porsche 911 just two seconds to the good over Matthew’s Ford Escort.

But right with Matthew on the same time was I.O.M. ‘newbie’ Bill Cleyndert with championship winning navigator Martyn Taylor doing a cracking job as the two have partnered up for the first time in the Morris Mini Cooper S.

But by the time the teams arrived at Creg-Ny-Baa for the meal halt, Matthew Warren’s Escort had snatched the lead from his father Howard and Bill Cleyndert had moved up to second. Howard Warren and Iain Tullie were just three seconds behind in third place with Paul Crosby and Ali Procter another three seconds down in their green Porsche 911. Sensationally on the same time as Crosby was Neil Wilson with winning navigator Matthew Vokes on the maps in the Porsche 924, this despite the duo clattering through a plantation regularity with the rear exhaust box hanging off.

It was all very close going into the dark and foreboding Leg 2.

Bill Cleyndert was very pleased with his second place on his first visit to the island but was keeping a lid on his excitement. “ I am loving the Isle of Man and want to come back for more, but I’m keeping stum on our prospects as all the navigators seem very nervous about the difficult night ahead. I’m told it’s hard driving and tough navigation, I just hope to come out the other side!”

As crews set off into the inky black night for five regularities and five time control sections, it was clear that a combination of skillful driving and astute navigation would be the way to get through the tough night successfully.

Some crews were thriving, some were just surviving.

Klaus Mueller and Rolf Pellini dropped their Lancia Fulvia into a ditch when trying to move over for another competitor and had to wait for the rescue team to pull them out. “But we were lucky” said Klaus, “we took a short cut that took us directly to the next timing point without missing a control, we were back in. We love the HERO events in UK, they are great fun. We don’t have single track roads or forest tracks like these to use in Europe and the combination of tests, regularities and time control sections make them very special.”

Other survivors include Nigel Abbott and Ian Ocego in their MGB who stopped at the lunch halt but managed to order new parts which when fitted will allow them back for day two. The MG Midget of Richard and Susan Watkinson, on their very first event has sadly encountered many technical difficulties but managed to get to rally HQ for repairs. Susan starred on Zoe Ball’s Radio 2 Breakfast Show on Thursday before the event talking about classic rallying and the Three Legs of Mann, Zoe said she owned a Triumph Stag, so Susan promptly suggested that she should consider taking part in a future event!

Andy Lane who normally drives, has swapped to the navigators role this season, sitting alongside Roy Stephenson in a mighty Ford Mustang, a big car for any event never mind the narrow Manx lanes. “It's not entirely suitable but at least I’ve found my way so far, it’s tough this navigating lark!”

As the teams still battle late into the night, some are recalling the superb rally routes already encountered today. The Three Legs of Mann has covered some of the hallowed ground of former Manx International rallies, such as the famous Druidale. Paul Crosby and Ali Procter loved the route, especially after a Land Rover and trailer moved over to let them past on the narrow winding tarmac track. Nor so fortunate was Nick Bloxham and Niall Frost in the Escort. As they approached the much photographed uphill hairpins, they encountered the same Land Rover but were forced to follow it over the cattle grid before they could pass, time lost but well spent on the legendary course.

Overall positions as Bill Cleyndert feared, had changed part way through the difficult night. Matthew Warren continued to lead but Howard Warren and Iain Tullie had stormed back to second with Matthew Wilson continuing his rapid rise with Matthew Vokes to third in the Porsche 924, the exhaust now strapped back in place.

Paul Crosby and Ali Procter were fourth with Bill Cleyndert and Martyn Taylor dropping to fifth.

Provisionally on return at the end of Leg 2, Matthew Warren and Ryan Pickering are holding the overnight lead. Howard Warren is second behind his son and said tonight: “ There is still plenty of time tomorrow to catch up, I’ll give it a good go tomorrow.”

Paul Crosby and Ali Procter were third in their 911 but Neil Wilson said he was pleasantly surprised by his climb up the leader board to fourth in the Porsche 924, “ it’s a bit of a surprise but then I have a really great navigator beside me in Matthew Vokes, but yes its been a nice steady climb. The last time I was here in the Palace Hotel was when Russell Brookes and I won the Manx International Rally, in 1991. As you can understand it brought back great memories going over Druidale again.”

Bill Cleyndert dropped some time after navigator Martyn Taylor admitted to making a mistake. He was also hoarse after all the shouting. “I’ve been shouting all day and night to be heard above the whining diff in the Cooper S. But this event has been another tough one, Guy has thrown everything into it, even the kitchen sink.”

Richard Lambley ended up pushing the Volvo Amazon with driver Shaun Arnold after a little off in the challenging conditions of the plantations deep into the night.” It was a bit rough in parts and soft going at times, the car took a hammering but we are still in there despite dropping some time.”

Overnight leader Matthew Warren and Ryan Pickering agreed it had been a tough but satisfying night, but as Matthew said the conditions in the dark speeding through the plantations were “like being on Mars, it was amazing”.

Now we wait for the big Warren family battle for honours on the final day of Three Legs of Mann.

Paul Crosby, Neil Wilson and the Nick Bloxham who climbed back up the leader board to fifth after some technical problems, are all hoping to spoil the Warren road show in the final Leg.


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