Motorsport News Rally Championship 2016/17

Round 1 Motorsport News Championship, Oulton Park

The improvements have continued on Kitty, the light pod bonnet has been tidied up and repainted white and I have sealed the lights to improve the air flow to the radiator and not through the lights.

As usual preparations went down to the wire.  The engine Andy and I fitted a week before the rally is his spare 1020cc fitted with Maynard pistons, a really good fix for a tired, smoky 998 engine. This engine unlike the 1390cc can handle revs, with similar power but in a different place on the power band.

The car was almost ready for the first round of the Motorsport News Circuit rally Championship, The Neil Howard Rally at Oulton Park on 5th November. I left the car on the trailer in the workshop and went on holiday for a week to celebrate Lorraine’s birthday. Alan picked the car up at the weekend and finished the jobs off.

We met at Oulton, (another day out for Dave) got the car through scrutineering and put Kitty and Dave in the garage for the night and off to the overnight accommodation……. Pub, nice room, good food, nice night.

Got to the Circuit and Dave disgraced himself by not starting, as always in front of an audience. Andy Jones and Russell arrived to help, Russell was as good as gold and Andy kept an eye on us and the car.

The day went well, it’s always a good rally, and Andy said that he thought there were more spectators than at the Gold Cup. We finished 4th in class and but for a couple or 3 spins we may have been 3rd. We got to leave before the fireworks, which was good, we beat the traffic and got back to HQ early after a tiring day.

Kitty is left with a few battle scars, a bent ‘H’ bracket and some bits and pieces to sort out.

2016 Neil Howard Stages 5th November Oulton Park, Cheshire.

2016 Neil Howard Stages
5th November
Oulton Park, Cheshire.

Photo copyright of Pro-Rally Photography –

Round 2 Cadwell Park 20th November.

Cadwell Stages

Not a great deal of work required on Kitty after Oulton, but it still seemed to take a while. Had to repair the old wiper motor and put it back, Sorted my seat position, modified the engine breather tank, straightened the front nearside H brackets and put a new spring plinth in , checked carbs for water and ready to go.

Alan came over Sat lunch, we swapped to the intermediate tyres and off we went. It took about 3 hours to get to Cadwell so it was going dark when we passed scrutineering. Put Kitty to bed and went to the Pub. Up early for a light breakfast then off to the circuit. Woke Kitty, put the gazebo up and got ready for start. The stages all started at the same place eventually……….car15 went through the Armco so we sat in the car for ¾ hr and ended up playing I Spy. The first clue was B and was the BMW in front of us, which was quite hard because there was no badge on the boot, then Alan cheated because he could see what was behind us in the rear view mirror. I got the Ford bit but not the model so I gave up.

I really love Cadwell but we were cheated last year breaking a rotoflex on Stage 2. Not this time. I could sit there all day watching Alan wring Kitty’s neck and I do, having the best seat in the house. Stage 1 finally started and apart from spending too long between stages sitting in the car playing I Spy, the day went really well. We had a bit of a miss fire on the last 2 stages but finished 3rd in class.

Lots of interest in Kitty as always. Disassembled everything and put Kitty on the trailer. When we went to the prize giving the last stage has been cancelled after a crash although everybody completed the stage. Again we had a long wait in case of protests, so it was 9 p.m. By the time we got back to the pub, when I noticed my trophy was broken, bummer.

With hindsight I would not have cancelled Stage 4 as it was already set up but probably cancelled one or both of the last stages. It would have speeded the process up and cut down on the I Spy. But having said that it was an excellent rally.


Copyright Kevin Money


Copyright Ade Wildsmith Photography

Next rally Rockingham Dec 2/3/4, another short rally last year, let’s hope for a longer one this year.


Round 3 Rockingham.

Last year was a disaster at Rockingham, novices, dead Imp, stage 1.

This year, yeah baby. For a start not howling a gale, plus we figured out where we were going.

Arrived at the circuit Friday and lined up for scrutineering, then this strange bloke came to the car and didn’t introduce himself but passed us an envelope with the Michelin award inside from Cadwell. Michelin give a set of tyres to a competitor who uses Michelin tyres for the rally and they chose us, giving Alan a free set of new tyres from Michelin with the comment ‘you don’t do Facebook do you?’, apparently there is an ‘MSN Rally Championship’ page on Facebook. It’s worth a look.

Passed scrutineering and tucked Kitty up for the night and went to our other base for the weekend, the Royal George in Cottingham. Just what the Rallyists ordered.

Had a lie in on Saturday as the first stage only started at 12 am. There were a few incidents on the first stage so we had to wait for the Marshals to clear up, once we set off we actually found our way round, having studied the circuit a bit more (unlike last year). If you know Rockingham it is basically an oval with banking and a lot of ‘stuff ‘ in the middle. That is a bit of an injustice but sums it up.

We had a good Saturday until Alan undertook a Cosworth Sierra (in the dark) on the banking after hassling it, and I was thinking that the Sierra would make a mistake soon!!!!! but once it was behind us the chase was on and coming out of a right/left chicane somebody put a tower of tyres there so we, sorry Kitty terminated them, not without pain, the nearside front corner took quite a hit. Took the headlight out, wrapped the front panel around the chassis leg and dented the door and rear wing. All the best damage is on the co-drivers side. As it was the last stage of the day we spent an hour sorting Kitty out, taping it up and putting it to bed, a good day.

Sunday and another 6 stages. The day dawned clear but cold. Up early and off to the Circuit, we expected a lot to do to prepare Kitty, but were ready in plenty of time. Had a really great day, the car was faultless, not bad for an almost 50 year old car kicking ass with much newer cars.

The stages were better organised as the day went on, as the organisers spotted a hold up, a solution was put in place. Ice on some parts of the track first thing and a strong low sun in the afternoon added to the challenge.

We finished 2nd in class and 44th overall, pretty good result getting better all the time, and we appear to be leading the class in the championship.

Loaded Kitty up and collected our awards and back to the pub end of another good weekend.

Round 4 is at Brands Hatch in January, but we are not entering it, so it will be Snetterton in February when we are out again which gives me plenty of time to repair the damage on Kitty.



February 2017 Update

After Rockingham and Christmas, I found an N.S. front wing (N.S. Stands for Navigators side) and a front panel and spliced them in. 1st Feb now and it’s in colour, just got to re-assemble and put the engine in when it gets back from Andy Jones. By Sunday 5th Feb we will have entered all the last 4 rounds of the championship. Snetterton 19th Feb, Donnington 5th March, Anglesey 19th March and Cadwell 9th April. So far we are 3rd in Class overall, we dropped a place because we didn’t do Brands Hatch. If anybody wants to come along we may be able to sort out some tickets.

Snetterton Stage Rally 19th February 2017

We have not been to Snetterton before, maybe it is the 5 hour drive each way. We set off at 11.00 a.m. on the Saturday and arrived at 4.00 p.m. in time to occupy the garage and go to scrutineering which was a bit of a trauma. We have been rallying and racing “Kitty” about 15 years and have never failed the noise test, and to get the car through the noise test we had to cover the engine with sound deadening and turn the silencer to make 99 dbs from 104. The rest of scrutineering was a breeze. We signed on, put “Kitty” to bed and went to the pub. It must be “a local pub for local people” because as we walked through the door, everybody in the fairly busy bar turned around and stared at us.

Quick breakfast in the morning and off to the circuit. Snetterton is a fast circuit and apart from the section around the paddock area, which suited the Imp very well and helped us but the fast sections of the circuit pushed the car to the limit. The last stages, which used quite a lot of the fastest corners without chicanes really had “Kitty” on the ragged edge. It’s a good job I trust Alan.

The drivers meeting was the best ever, Clerk of the Course stood above the meeting, was loud, clear and told it like it should be and it was. No hold ups, no stupid accidents, a very smooth rally and a good weekend. “Kitty” is reliable again, so all we have to do is check the oil and water and chat to our adoring fans! Spent Sunday night back at the pub and set off early Monday, a good run but another 5 hours in the pickup.

I have to check the car over, give it a clean and off to Donnington (another first for “Kitty” the rally car). Racing Sunday 5th March, we are in garage 22 on what may be a wet weekend.

Class A, which is our class up to 1400 cc had more than the usual number of entries and 13 finished. We finished 6th in class and 56th overall. In the Motorsport News Rally Championship we are doing well, but I am having a bit of trouble working out the points system. According to the organisers and I quote, “it works by combining class points and overall position points. Ron is picking up more points because there are less registered class A and overall co-drivers, hence Ron is able to take more points on each round. It seems to work great as a system and helps to make sure that people can obtain great points by winning their class”.

Alan has 101 points and 3rd driver in class, 42nd overall.

Ron has 133 points, 2nd co-driver in class and 23rd overall.


Imperial Commercials VW, Donnington Rally 5th March 2017

Apart from sorting the front brakes and putting new pads in, a spanner check and getting the rear radiator repaired after the electric fan rubbed a hole in the header tank, a clean and polish was all it needed.

I loaded “Kitty” on Saturday and set off. I towed with Lorraine’s Cruiser for the 1st time and was very impressed, the 2.4 engine gives it more oomph than the 2 ltr Cruiser and the auto box very reminiscent of the 2.8 Granada Estate I used years ago.

We have not been to Donnington Park for a while, in fact Donnington was “Kittys” debut race in HSCC touring cars, when we first built it lots of years ago. There have been quite a few changes in Donnington and the circuit is now part of MSVR, which also run Oulton Park, Cadwell Park and Brands Hatch, so expect more improvements in the future. I arrived just before Alan, we had booked a garage, so we unloaded and when to scrutineering, which we passed with no problems and no noise issues. As usual, put “Kitty” to bed and went to the pub. Up early, had a light continental breakfast, went to wake “Kitty” up.

Saturday had been a clear and sunny day. Sunday started dull and then chucked it down, so we put the wet tyres on. First stage started well but I missed the split and we did one circuit too many and cost us four minutes, just short of a maximum. I was gutted, rallying all this time and I made a stupid mistake. We started stage 2 fifth from last determined to make the time up. Alan was on fire all day, it’s a real joy to watch him at play and “Kitty” didn’t miss a beat. The stages were similar to Snetterton with some very tight sections which suited “Kitty”.

We finished 5th in class, 52 overall and 14th from the bottom, quite an improvement.

We have one problem with “Kitty”, on the fuel system, when the car is standing, the cylinders fill up with petrol, we ran the system dry before we put it on the trailer but I noticed this week, that it has done it again. I need to fix that this week.

Roll on Anglesey 18th March.

Motor Drive Seats Lee Holland Memorial Rally 19th March 2017, Anglesey Circuit


All it took to get “Kitty”ready was a shampoo and a spanner check. I loaded the car up on Saturday and Alan arrived Saturday lunch and off we went. Got to the circuit, found our garage, which we shared with the sponsors Motor Drive Seats, really nice couple, very friendly, based in Leyland, so as a Leyland apprentice myself we had a lot to talk about. Scrutineered “Kitty”, put the sun-strip on the screen, which was wider than the screen, so Simpson lost the son. Put “Kitty” to bed, had a hike around the circuit to check out the remodelled “yump”, then off to the hotel. Excellent hotel, Nant-yr-Odyn, very friendly, excellent staff and food. Spent the evening with the Motor Drive team who were sharing the same hotel.

A light breakfast is the morning, up to the circuit, woke “Kitty” up but had to empty the bores of petrol because we forget to take the fuel pipe off and had to tow “Kitty” to get it going. We started the first stage at 10.02, still on the wet tyres while the circuit was damp. The stages had been well thought out with some new sections at the top of the complex near the medical centre. The “yump” was still a bit uneven around the landing in the direction of the sea so we took it easy. The splits on stage 1 & 2 followed the usual format whereas on stages 3 & 4 (as far as we got) the splits had been mixed up, and quite a few teams had got maximum times for going the wrong way, for a change I got it right. On stages 3 & 4 the “yump” was taken in the other direction. On stage 3 Alan took it with care but on stage 4 he took it flat out. The landing was hard and gave my back quite a jolt. Alan pulled off the stage a little while later because the water temp had gone off the scale. When we looked the rear water pump had stopped working and as it feeds the front water pump the water was going nowhere. The engine still started but wouldn’t rev properly. When we got it back to our garage we checked the fuse on the rear water pump and it had melted. I think the “yump” may have finished it off. We filled it with water, bled the system and again it fired but wouldn’t rev cleanly, so we decided to call it a day. and packed up.

We had decided to stay the night at the hotel as it was booked, we were tired and usually the traffic is heavy on a Sunday night coming back from Wales, but when we got to the bridge over the A55, Alan stopped, commenting that the clutch had packed in on the pickup. We couldn’t see anything wrong so I suggested we start it in gear and drive to the hotel which was the next junction off the A55. But as we drove down the slip road it was clear the pickup wasn’t going anywhere. Plan B. Alan phoned green flag to arrange recovery, I phoned the hotel to get a phone number for a taxi so I could get back to the hotel, pay the bill and collect our stuff. When the “taxi” arrived, it was the owner of the hotel who had decided to pick us up because he thought a taxi would be ages, now that it real service and a big thank you to them.

The recovery truck got to Alan and loaded him up and met me at the slip road for the hotel. The journey back was uneventful but we couldn’t decide where to end up. I called Lorraine who agreed to save us by meeting at the Lymm Truck Stop in the Cruiser so I could tow “Kitty” home and Alan could carry on to Littleborough. We arrived at the truck stop within 5 mins of each other. Somebody else who went above and beyond the call of duty.

I had a bad back for a couple of days and took it easy. Anglesey is always a great place to go rallying or racing, if you haven’t been GO.

Report on “Kitty” to follow.

Kitty “Fixed”

When we finally got home and recovered, I phoned Andy Jones for a chat about the engine. He reluctantly agreed that I could take the head off. What I should have done was check the compression properly, change the plugs and try it again. But I didn’t. I took the head off and found nothing obvious, still I wouldn’t have been happy not looking. I will be taking the engine to Andy for re-assembly. I did this on Wednesday. He found a dip in the head, so he will skim the head and re-cut the wills rings. I have fixed the front fan which was a fuse which was marked the wrong way round. Switch No 1 was connected to fuse No 2! I moved the filter king to a lower position, upped the water pump fuses from 10 amp to 15 amp and had a clean up in the engine bay, so hopefully I can get it back together with a sender in the water system to light up the oil light if it gets too hot as are the very early imps wired.

We had to do Cadwell although when we left Anglesey with a dead car and pick up, we made the decision we’d had enough and were going to pull out of the last rally but good sense got the better of us. Alan was bothered about the extra work for me, I just didn’t want to go out with a whimper. We have done too much to give up, One last good finish will help with our Championship positions.

Championship standings before Cadwell Rally.

Main Championship

Alan Kitson – 38th overall

Ron Aspinwall – 22nd overall

Class A overall

Alan Kitson – 5th

Ron Aspinwall – 3rd

Drivers Class A

Alan Kitson – 3rd overall

Co-Drivers Class A

Ron Aspinwall – 2nd overall

Cadwell Park Stages 9th April

Well Busted”

The final round of the MSV Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship. After Anglesey we didn’t expect to complete the last round but it all came together in time. Special thanks to Andy Jones @ Shrigley as always.

We drove to Cadwell in glorious sunshine and scrutineered the car in T shirts which made a nice change. Kitty functioning and going well, although it is looking a bit battle scarred. We put it to bed and went to the pub and had a quiet early night.

Sunday at the circuit and a sunny but breezy day. Checked the car over and went to the drivers meeting, another well organised informative no messing briefing. Went to the office to get our start time and set my watch, to the official time. There was a co-driver in front, setting 2 expensive stop watches to the second! Mine was 10 seconds out, close enough for me.

First stage started again from a new start at the back of the stage with very fast sections and very tight corners and hairpins but it went without a problem. Got a good time. The second stage started well until we went through the ‘Bus Stop’ followed by a tight 90 right up the steep link road 20 yds after the corner,bang, click, click, click, no drive. Pulled onto the grass. We though it was a rotoflex, got out of the car and waited for the end of the stage & recovery. Looking around there were 2 other cars parked and as we were watching a Peugeot joined us with no drive and watching the cars we noticed on the inside of the corner a small kerb and the cars missing it were o.k. But if you caught the kerb with the inside drive wheel snapped a drive shaft, we it appears lost the crown wheel and pinion, not a rotoflex. End of Rally.

We were going to stay Sunday night but we loaded up and went back to the pub. Had Sunday lunch and came home.

We were both disappointed at the way the last 2 rallies, but Kitty has performed really well this year, considering it is 50 this year and mixing with Novas, Escorts, Pumas, Ka and Puntos, which all have modern engines, most between 1300 & 1400 5 speed boxes and youth on their side we did really well, and the reception the Imp receives is brilliant.

It didn’t cost us any championship places so we get to got to the prize giving. We won a set of tyres worth £600 and were awarded “Best Presented Car” by scrutineers at Oulton Park. A very rewarding championship. Special thanks to the team @ Bolton-le-Moors car club and the Sponsors including ours Octagon Wealth Management.

We are not going to compete in the championship again, it is too much work keeping Kitty going. So we are going to look at just 3 or 4 rallies next year, Isle of Man, Belgium – who knows.

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