The Mike Sones Memorial rally 

The first round of the 2023 Mini Sport Cup, organized by the Historic Rally Car Register, started in spectacular fashion! Although ten crews had entered, only eight were able to start due to two cars not being ready on time.

Despite the snow-covered roads at Weston Park, the event went ahead, and the competition was fierce. Clive King and Anton Bird, driving their Mini Sport-backed car, took the lead at car 35, followed by Trevor Hancock with his son James in the co-driver's seat at car 44. Andrew O'Hanlon and Kevin Hogan, in car number 45, were one place behind, confident in their new engine that had been fitted towards the end of the previous season.

Shane Gamble, driving a new Mark One Mini rally car in the pre-1968 category 1 class, was hopeful of better luck than last season. The remaining cars were spread throughout the rest of the entries.

During the event, all of the Minis serviced together, allowing the crews to help each other when they faced problems.

We were delighted that some of our sponsors made the trip to see the first round of the championship, with Rob from Mini Sport, Ronny from Yokohama, Alan from Questmead and Andrew from Snap-On.

On the first stage, Clive managed to stop the clocks three seconds quicker than Andrew, who was four seconds ahead of Trevor Hancock. The rest of the field followed closely behind. Unfortunately, Shane's new car suffered a fuel problem, which caused it to stop on the road section after the stage. Although all the crews jumped to help diagnose the issue, the problem persisted, forcing Shane and Bob Ward to retire from the event.

The next few stages remained treacherous with the grip levels changing on each run, making it difficult for the crews to judge braking points. Clive and Anton managed to extend their lead by a few seconds on each of the next few stages, but Andrew was pushing hard to close the gap. John Nicholson suffered an off on one of the fast bends, damaging the co-driver's side, while Harvey Steven's Mini hit one of the large straw bales, damaging the front panel and breaking the distributor cap.

Despite facing various challenges, the crews persisted, setting quick times over the last few stages. Craig King, with Peter Ellerby navigating, clipped a bail and damaged the co-driver's wing, while Stewart Hart's flywheel worked loose, causing them to retire from the event.

As the final flag came down, Clive had extended his lead by a few seconds from Andrew, with Trevor managing to overtake Craig to finish as the third Mini home. With no last minute retirements all of the remaining minis made the finish.

The event was a thrilling success, with the crews demonstrating their driving skills and the resilience to overcome various obstacles!


The prize draws were held at the finish:

Exol Oil prize - won by Andrew O'Hanlon

Snap-On prize kindly donated by Andrew (from Snap-On) - won by Trevor Hancock

Set of brake pads from Questmead for best improvement in seeding - won by Harvey Stevens.

Yokohama donated two tyres - won by Andrew O'Hanlon


There was a cake presented to Craig as his birthday which was the following day, where he all of a sudden made lots of friends who wanted a slice.


Congratulations Clive & Anton on 1st place finish!


Thank you to the generous sponsors of the HRCR Mini Sport Cup – Mini SportMintex, Exol Oil, Snap-On, Yokohama & Questmead, without whom there wouldn’t be a Championship.

To catch up with all the action from the Mini Sport Cup, please see here.
For more information on the Mini Sport Cup, please see our Facebook page here.


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Words - Clive King

Photos - Ian Francis Photography