Rallye Sunseeker kicks off the championship in style with two spectator stages run in total darkness through Bournemouth 's Winter Gardens, continuing with a 100mph blast down the seafront. The crowds were out in thousands for the popular stage, though for the drivers it is a tricky start to the event.
Andrew Coley remarked: “It's great to be the focus of whole town for an evening, but the 2 stages only add up to 3.2 miles and from a driving point of view all you can do is lose the rally on the seafront. The sandy road is extremely slippery and the corners very difficult to pick out in the park in darkness, as we use footpaths for the first part of the stage.”
Despite the tricky conditions the APCsport team set good times on the night stage and shot up the order ready for an early morning start on the gravel roads of the New Forest around Bournemouth.
Andrew and Danny were immediately on the pace and set class leading times until an engine mounting worked loose on the longest stage of the rally, Mount Ararat, losing the pair around 20 seconds on their competitors. The problem was fixed at first service and the lads went out again to close the gap on the class leaders.
The gap was pegged again, but their rollercoaster of a day was to continue! Danny explains: “We were sitting in the car waiting to go into the last service of the day, when the car in front of us in the queue reversed hard into our 206 and totally smashed the front of the car up. Worse still we needed to fit the lamp pod to a now badly misshapen bonnet!"
APCsport's team of volunteer service crew sprung into action again and managed to patch the car up enough to continue into the final stages of the day, where Andrew and Danny had a 10 second gap to close up in only 16 competitive miles.
Andrew said: “After the incident in service we were really fired up; we'd worked hard all day trying to keep up with a ‘Super 1600' class car which is worth 4 times as much as ours and has a third more power. I pushed like hell on the final two stages, and when we realised we'd done enough to win we were shouting and cheering in the car!”
The Bexhill duo pipped their class competitors by just 4.1 seconds to take the win after 70 miles of flat out competition.
APCsport's next event is in Scotland; the team hope to complete the whole MSA National Gravel Rally Championship but currently lack the funds to do so. Anyone interested in backing this promising pair can contact us via the team through the website or call Andrew directly on 07866 635741.
APCsport would particularly like to thank M-Tech Bodyshop and Langley's Automotive of Bridge Way, Hastings for helping to prepare the car on time, and Motorhaven Peugeot, Hastings, for their support.