12 NOVEMBER 2018 12:00
Jamie Jukes mastered atrociously wet and slippery conditions on the Isle of Man to win the 2018 PokerStars Rally in the Spencer Sport R5 specification Mitsubishi Mirage.
Co-driven by James Morgan, the Penrhiwllan-based driver made a cautious start in the worst of the weather conditions on Friday night. Having survived heavy rain and flooded roads, Jamie held a strong second position at the overnight halt and was sportingly full of praise and admiration for Kevin Davies/Dylan Jenkins, who led the event by 11 seconds in their Escort Mk2 at that stage in the rally.
Despite the rain easing, Saturday’s stages continued to be extremely slippery. Jamie used the four-wheel drive and rallycross-inspired set-up of the Mitsubishi Mirage to great effect and upped his pace, taking the lead of the Manx Auto Sport-organised event on SS7, the opening stage of the day. From then on, he consistently increased his advantage and adopted an ‘unfamiliar measured push to the finish’ to win the event by 1 minute 42 seconds.
Winning a rally on the Isle of Man has been a goal for Jamie for some time and it was extra special as victory came just over a year after he and co-driver Dave Williams were hospitalised after an accident on the Island. Jamie had no hesitation in dedicating his win to his friend Mark James, who crashed his Escort Mk2 on Saturday morning’s SS8. Having been removed from the car by event emergency teams and the fire service, before initially being treated at Nobles Hospital on the island (where Jamie was so well looked after following his crash), Mark is now receiving treatment at Aintree Hospital in Liverpool.
Having finished second overall on a shakedown event at the Welsh Motorsports Centre at Pembrey, Oli Hopkins was back driving his brother’s Hopkins Specialist Race Trailers-backed Mirage. Co-driven by Ian Taylor, the Bristol-based driver was challenging for a top 10 position when the car skidded off the road and into a ditch. Oli continued, but having lost around eight minutes went on to finish 10th in class and 44th overall.
John Indri had given his bright yellow Mirage its competition debut on the Manx National Rally earlier in the year, during which he encountered monsoon-like conditions. The weather was even worse this time, as the Colchester driver battled through the Friday night deluge. Co-driven by Mathew Smalley, the Adrian Flux Insurance/Steve Harkness Tyres-backed driver’s good run came to a premature end due to a transmission issue.
On their first event on the Isle of Man and only their second event in their recently finished, Spencer Sport supported Proton Satria S1400, Ieuan Evans and Will Rogers were running as high as second in class at one point. Having been seeded at 71, their excellent run came to an unlucky end with gearbox problems.
At the finish, Jamie said: “We were dutifully cautious and got through Friday night without problems, other than a small electrical gremlin at the beginning of stage two. That left us in second and in a decent position for Saturday, which then required a measured push to the finish - not familiar territory for me I have to admit! Without question, it has already gone down in history as the wettest rally ever. We knew it was going to be bad and the team used some of the experience gained from the British Rallycross campaign to massage the car into something that could better cope with what was coming.
“It’s been quite some journey this one and I’m very pleased to have got the job done and won the Manx Autosport PokerStars Rally! I’ve so many people to thank: Dave Williams, my great friend and accomplice in all the highs and very lows that the Isle of Man has granted us; James Morgan for bringing his influence and talent into this absolutely fabulous little car; Charlie Jukes for taking the flack whilst doing his best for me - his little brother - and to everyone that make the wonderful Spencer ECA and Spencer Sport teams what they are. They’re very special and I could not be more proud of us.
“I also have to pay tribute to our Manx ‘friends for life’ that have looked after us since our big one that Dave and I had at Rally Isle of Man just over a year ago. Also, to event organisers Manx Auto Sport on delivering another great and well organised rally no matter what Mother Nature or anyone else throws at them. A big thank you to all you marshals, set-up crews and radio crews - you have our absolute respect and gratitude.
“The downer to all this is the uncertain situation with the driver of car 36, my personal friend and Spencer ECA’s totally reliable heavy haulage contractor Mark James. A nicer man you will not find, and from the bottom of my heart I hope it’s all okay in time. I dedicate this result to you pal.”
Charlie Jukes, Spencer Sport team manager, said: “Jamie has been rallying on the Isle of Man for several years, so this victory has been a while in the making and richly deserved. The conditions were horrendous, yet Jamie drove exceptionally well and the car ran almost faultlessly, which was extraordinary in the severe wet weather conditions. I’m really proud of the entire Spencer Sport team that ran four cars effortlessly on this challenging event.
“Oli Hopkins/Ian Taylor had a great run in their Mirage, with only an off in very tricky conditions denying them a good result. John Indri/Mathew Smalley suffered a rare transmission problem in their Mirage, and it was great to see Ieuan Evans/Will Rogers having such a great run on their Isle of Man debut, getting as high as second in class before retiring their Proton.”
Spencer Sport would to thank its partners for their support: Spencer ECA, Oil 4 Wales, Nicky Grist Motorsports, PIAA UK, Speedline Corse UK, Atech Racing, Motul, Hopkins Specialist Race Trailers, Sea & Slate Holiday Cottages and Rallycover insurance.
2018 Pokerstars Rally – top 10 finishers