Toyota classic rally team Midgley Motorsport is celebrating a remarkable debut class victory on the Roger Albert Clark Rally, the UK’s toughest historic motorsport event. The team’s 25-year-old Corolla AE86, crewed by Will Midgley and Jonathan Driver, beat its closest rival to the Kielder Forest finish line by 14 minutes.
Midgley and Driver battled throughout the three-day event against another Corolla, crewed by Andy Madge and Pat Cooper. The duel for class honours came down to the final sting-in-the-tail stage in the 160-mile rally, the 17-mile Kershope test.
“Going into Kershope we were three minutes behind Andy,” said Will, 37 and from Grassington in North Yorkshire. “He looked like he had it in the bag because he had been going really well. But he came off three miles into the stage and couldn’t get going again. It was really unfortunate for Andy, but good luck for us.”
The Midgley Corolla, which is liveried identically to those which Will’s father, John Midgley, and Per Eklund drove to a string of UK rallying successes for Team Toyota GB in the mid-’80s, was one of four finishers in its class.
It wasn’t all plain sailing for Will and Jonathan: “We hit a huge pot-hole on the first evening and that put the steering well off track – one wheel was pointing one way and one the other – but we were able to get that remedied in service. We were still working on the car, in mud and slurry, until one-thirty the next morning. We had four hours of sleep and then we were back off again.”
On Saturday, at the Croft circuit spectator stage, the Midgley Toyota lapsed on to three cylinders and that cost the crew a couple of minutes on their second run around the track. “After that, everything was fairly trouble-free; we kept it on the road and the Toyota ran really well. Jonathan and I learned a lot: it was the first time for both of us navigating with maps, our first time rallying in the dark, and the first time in fog. That was a lot of firsts for one event. The team worked really hard to keep us going, especially on the Friday night, and we thoroughly enjoyed the event.
“I am sure we will be back to do the rally again next year and hopefully also we will contest the new RAC Club championship that is being launched for cars of the era of our Corolla.”