Ben Friend together with regular co-driver Cliffy Simmons returned from his sabbatical with a fine performance on the recent Grooms Garages Sweetlamb Rally Time Trial, writes Paul Willetts.

Friend and Simmons took the historic class and eighth overall in the Allglass Anglia Escort RS1800. 

Newtown and District Automobile Club attracted a full entry of 50 cars for the 24 competitive miles run over six tests with three runs over the same four-mile stage in the morning then the stage is reversed with a further three runs in the afternoon.

It was a solid performance by the duo with fastest historic car on the first five tests.

Only a throttle issue on the final stage prevented a clean sweep but they were comfortable historic category winners by 28 seconds.

“It's been a good day and useful mileage ahead of the forthcoming Nicky Grist Stages – a cracking event this could do with more mileage,” said Friend.

Behind were another local crew, Ian Evans who in the early 80, was one of the up and coming stars in the Vauxhall Nova Challenge and was renowned for his giant killing drives in his 1300 Nova over the years.

But the Allensmore driver was debuting his historic spec Escort RS1800 – the first time he had driven an Escort for 40 years.

Then it was only a 1300, so this was a real baptism of fire but together with regular co-driver Justin Brooks he built his speed during the day and certainly entertained the spectators with his flamboyant style and finished a excellent 10th overall and second in class after a trouble-free run.

The awesome sounding TR7 V8 of Graham Thatcher and Tim Samuel finished 33rd and eighth in class.

Mike Truman together with Martha Howells in the M E Damsell Subaru Impreza made a welcome return to gravel and netted 35th overall and fifth in class

James Dunkley had Jack Morris back onboard the Dunkley Auto Services Vauxhall Corsa and finished just one place behind Truman in 36th and fourth in class.

Mark Christopher made a rare outing in his Mini Challenge-spec Cooper with Jasmin Westcarr in the co-driving seat as they took 39th and sixth in class.

It was tuition time for Dave Troughton who had Nigel Jenkins in the hotseat of the Hyundai i20 and they had a solid run to 42nd and sixth in class.

Bob Morgan with Adrian Williams alongside in the Winner Garage Skoda Fabia R5 were holding a strong fourth on the first outing since the Wyedean 

Unfortunately they rolled on the afternoon loop although damage was fairly light and more importantly the crew were ok.

Yet again NADAC had put on a first class event and British rallying needs more of these type of cost effective rallies to encourage newcomers into the sport.