After a highly spirited drive
Top Zimbabwean rally driver Conrad Rautenbach enjoyed a strong run on Saturdays International Rally of Yorkshire, the penultimate round of the 2006 Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship as he guided his Geoff Jones Motorsport run Subaru
Impreza N12 to 6th overall after 108 gruelling miles of forest rallying.
Conrad, co-driven as usual by the vastly experienced David Senior, was relishing the return to gravel and a recent test in the Yokohama shod Subaru had buoyed the young Zimbabwean's confidence.
Despite the early conditions being slippery and treacherous Conrad was quick out of the blocks on his first visit to the Yorkshire forests. 7th fastest through the first proper stage, and 2nd quickest Subaru behind champion elect Mark Higgins was a good start to the rally.
However, a strong run through Gale Rigg was negated by a time consuming spin near the end which cost the Subaru pilot quite some time, leaving him in 8th spot after 3 stages.
After adjusting his central diff at the first service Conrad was expecting to be nearer the front runners through the next group of stages but a tyre choice meant he struggled for traction on the slippery sections and had to be content with a string of top 8 times. The 18 mile run through Dalby went well for Conrad and he was relatively happy with 6th fastest time but felt there was more to come from both the car and the tyres.
As well as replacing the brakes at service Conrad also resorted to his original diff settings for the afternoon run of stages in the hopes of finding a better balance within the car. With Conrad now up to 6th and in the midst of a battle with Mitsubishi pilot Phil Morrow and Suzuki driver Guy Wilks, Conrad was all up for a battle. 4 seconds separated Rautenbach and Morrow through the second running of Cropton as the duo used the superior 4 wheel drive traction of their relative steeds to pull away from the lighter Suzuki.
A big ‘moment' in the second running of the Gale Rigg stage cost Conrad a bit of time but he admitted he was lucky to get away with just scaring some spectators! “The car stepped out of shape and we kind of cut a corner a bit more than anticipated, but apart from scattering the crowds we managed to get away with it.”
A string of top 6 times throughout the rest of the day showed that Conrad was getting on with the job at hand and 6th overall at the end of 108 miles of tricky forest rallying was just reward for a highly spirited drive.
This result also moves Conrad into the lead of the ‘Junior Cup', 4 points ahead of his Junior World Rally Championship rival Guy Wilks and also means that Conrad is still in with a shot at second overall in the championship with only the Wales Rally GB remaining!
Immediately after the International Rally of Yorkshire had finished Conrad and David began preparing to fly off to Turkey to contest the next round of the Junior World Rally Championship in their Geoff Jones Motorsport run Renault Clio S1600.