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27 April 2013

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RAF Crews Dominate in Spectacular London Rally

RAF Rally crews celebrated a spectacular result on the weekend as 3 crews finished in the overall top ten and several crews took podium positions in their respective classes.

Waved off the start by the Secretary of State for Defence Rt Hon Phillip Hammond MP, 11 Military crews started the London based event which began at the legendary Brooklands Race Circuit near Weybridge, Surrey. The early pace was frenetic and the new stages saw the leaderboard change unpredictably as all 74 competing crews adapted to the new territory. All the RAF Crews were putting in excellent times and slowly began to migrate up the timesheets. But event was proving to be tough going and at the half way point the early RAF casualties were Sgt Chris Daykin with engine failure and Andy Johnson with a broken diff. Despite the early retirements, the leaderboard still looked very promising with current RAF Champions Squadron Leader Craig Teasdale and Sergeant Duncan Lilwall leading the military contingent in an amazing 8th overall in their Subaru Impreza. Hot on their heels was Steve Hopewell and Group Captain Mike Smith in a Ford Escort and John Franklin Pryce and Carl Placek in another Subaru Impreza.

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Squadron Leader Craig Teasdale and Sergeant Duncan Lilwall lead home the military contingent with a 3rd in Class and 7th overall against international competition

The afternoon stages would in essence see a repeat of the first leg with the addition of 2 stages at spectator lined Mercedes World Complex. With all RAF crews carrying some form of mechanical adversity, the personnel in service crews would be vital in keeping the cars in the competition, their ingenuity and skill having a direct impact on the final results.

Sergeant Lilwall explained: “We thought we were out after Stage 2 when our left rear brake seized. Luckily we just kept going and it freed up. We managed to get back into service, but it was a real mess. Amazingly the guys managed to patch the car up and get us back out there. It was like that all day, most cars were carrying some damage. It was survival of the fittest”.

The afternoon saw the top 3 RAF crews swapping top 10 times amongst an international field with seasoned RAF competitor Flight Lieutenant Phil Bruce and SAC Tom Roberts working their way up to 2nd in class in their Peugeot 206 Supercup car. As the remaining 4 RAF crews completed the final stages at Mercedes World it was the RAF Police combo of Teasdale/Lilwall who brought home top honours for the military contingent finishing 3rd in class and 7th overall. Making up an all RAF podium were Pryce/Placek in 9th and Hopewell/Smith in 10th. Bruce/Roberts came in 21st overall and finished an incredible 2nd in class B10 to take the highest individual class position.

Bruce’s Co-driver SAC Tom Roberts was delighted; “It’s a great result 2nd in class against this competition. All of the RAF crews should be really proud, they were mixing it with national competitors who had far superior machinery. To have 3 RAF Crews in the top 10 overall is amazing.”

The result after Round 2 still sees Bruce leading the RAF Drivers Championship by 3points over Hopewell with Teasdale in third. Smith leads the Co-drivers Championship over Lilwall and Roberts with 3 rounds remaining.

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4 times RAF Champion Flight Lieutenant Phil Bruce and Senior Aircraftsman Tom Roberts ran faultlessly all day to finish 2nd in class and 21st overall rounding off an excellent event for the RAF crews.

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