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Keeping it in the family

RALLYING: A FATHER and daughter aim to be a driving success in the inaugural Formula 1000 Rally Challenge.

ON THE ROAD: Heather and Steve Johnson
ON THE ROAD: Heather and Steve Johnson

A FATHER and daughter aim to be a driving success in the inaugural Formula 1000 Rally Challenge.

Steve Johnson and daughter Heather, 17, will be competing at the Three Sisters in Wigan on Sunday in round one out of 10. Accrington firefighter Steve is the driver while he is reliant on co-driver Heather for her navigational skills.

"It is the first big event we have competed in together and it is Heather's job to make sure she tells me the right way to go," said Steve. "We took part in a 12 car navigation event a few weeks ago together and we won it - we were the only car to go the right way - so I know she can do it."

Heather, a pupil at Clitheroe Grammar School, has been brought up with motorsport and has been marshalling events for years. And Steve, 46, is looking forward to his venture into the rally world.

His top motorsport event is autotesting where, with his mini's, he completed his second hat-trick of class wins in the British Autotest Championship last year. As well as the class victory, he was third overall in the MSA championship. However, he was persuaded into the Formula 1000 Rally Challenge by its accessibility.

"Usually rallies cost a lot of money. The likes of Colin McRae have something like £1million budget. In the past, in 22 years of competing, the stage rally costs have always put me off. But now it is capped I have decided to give it a go.

"It is for 1000cc cars only, with standard engines, standard bodywork and glass work. The only thing you can improve is the breaks and suspensions but you can't improve the power - so it is a level playing field. It is all about driver skills with everyone having the same power. I think the full championship might cost me altogether about £3,500 over the year - which is achievable."

He has bought a Nissan Micra for the event, worked on it, and admits he is, after getting used to finishing in the top three in autotesting, not sure how he will do out of the 20 cars competing.

"We are entering into the unknown but I would like a top ten place," said Steve. "But really the main emphasis is on having fun and enjoying it."

Steve reckons he will reach speeds of 90 or 100 mph on what is a tight circuit at Three Sisters. Other rounds will be held at Anglesey, Weeton and Blackpool.

But while Steve is trying something different this weekend, he is still taking his autotesting seriously. He is competing against another Accrington driver, Bob Sergeant for honours.

In the first event at Anglesey this year, Steve was second overall and first in class in his mini 1100. In the second race there, though, he got clutch problems and finished third overall although again first in class. At Knutsford last weekend, he was second overall and won his class.

Bob, driving a Dutton Pheaton, beat Steve in the second race at Anglesey to finish second and at Knutsford, he was three seconds behind Steve in third place to make it a close battle.

  • STEVE is on the lookout for sponsorship for the Formula 1000 Rally Challenge.


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