Chilman storms to maiden British Historic Rally Championship win at the Riponian

Chilman storms to maiden British Historic Rally Championship win at the Riponian

In a tooth-and-nail battle which was fought out across every one of the Riponian Stages Rally tests on Sunday (12 February), it was Roger Chilman who came out on top, taking his maiden Fuchs Lubricants British Historic Rally Championship victory.

In a nip-and-tuck fight for the lead which saw up to four protagonists in with a chance of taking the win, it was the Ford Escort MKII crew of Chilman and co-driver Patrick Walsh who kept their cool over the final loop of stages to set their stall out early for the season ahead.

Taking second place and just four seconds shy of the winners, BHRC debutants Tom Walster and Chris Ridge proved they will be ones to watch this season, whilst Adrian Hetherington and Ronan O’Neill put their troublesome 2022 Riponian memories firmly behind them with third, giving the Ford Escort MKII a podium lockout.

But predicting a winner wasn’t an easy task during the day, as the new generation of BHRC challengers mixed with seasoned returnees for a fascinating battle for honours across 43 stage miles in classic Yorkshire forest tests such as Cropton and Gale Rigg.

With Matthew Robinson a non-starter and Marty McCormack retiring on the opening stage with mechanical issues, there was another familiar pair of names out front after the opening stage, as Nick Elliott and Dave Price stormed into an early lead in their FIAT 131 Abarth. They were five seconds to the good over Chilman with 2019 champions Simon Webster and Jez Rogers a further one second behind, tied with Hetherington.

Walster bagged a stage win in Cropton but it was Chilman’s time which allowed him to take the lead as Elliott fell to second although there was only a five-second gap by the mid-point of the rally.

That top three would change after the repeat run of Gale Rigg, as Elliott spun the Fiat at an infamous hairpin on the stage, losing almost fifteen seconds and hopes of a win. It was Hetherington who found his form in the afternoon with two stage wins, but it wouldn’t undo a slow start to the day, and Chilman made sure of a win with the fastest time over the final Wass Moor test.

“That’s a fantastic win” enthused Chilman.

“We had a really clean run today and went as quick as we wanted to go and really enjoyed the day. Some great stages out there but they were a bit tricky, although there was a lot more grip than we thought there was going to be. That said, there were some slippery patches around. Tom [Walster] has been amazing today considering it's his second time in the car so he will be a real factor in the championship. But this is a great start to the year”.

Elliott salvaged fourth and took the FIA Category top honours in the process, whilst Webster rounded out the top five.

In Category 2 [cars between 1968-1975], it was a simpler affair with Josh Carr and Richard Wardle returning an impressive drive to take their very first Category win. After securing second place in the championship in 2022, the pairing returned to go one better this time around and enjoyed the perfect start, leading from the second test and were never headed in their Ford Escort MKI.

Making their BHRC and Ford Escort MKI debut, Craig Jones and Ian Taylor set three fastest times on their way to second, beating local aces Warren Philliskirk and Garry Green who took third.

In Category 1, [up to 1968] Terry Cree and Richard Shores took their Mini Cooper S to victory with a clean run over the six tests, whilst Nick Cook and Dave Raw secures a maximum score in Rally2 [non Historic]. Robin Shuttleworth and Malcolm Smithson took the BHRC2 win for Category B and up to 1600cc machinery.

The Fuchs Lubricants British Historic Rally Championship now heads to Welshpool for the second round of the series, the Get Jerky Rally North Wales at the end of March.

Fuchs Lubricants British Historic Rally Championship
Provisional top five championship positions - after Round 1 – The Riponian Stages Rally

Pos. Driver Points
1. Roger Chilman 31
2. Tom Walster 26
3. Adrian Hetherington 23
4. Nick Elliott 21
5. Simon Webster 19

For more information on any of the Championships promoted by the RACMRC, please visit:
Images credit: Russ Otway / 90Right 
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