MARK Borthwick and Ian Wozencroft were the surprise winners of the Jack Neal Memorial Stages, taking their maiden rally win at Blyton Airfield.

Seeded at car five in their Mitsubishi Evo, the Cumbria-based pair ran out winners by almost three minutes to second-placed Kevin Jaffray and Linda Thomas’ Subaru Impreza.

Organiser Bruce Lindsay and his team from Clitheroe DMC laid out a tough event, with competitors tackling 100 stages miles over two days at the former Bomber Command airfield in Lincolnshire.

Early leaders – and last year’s winners – Peter Jackson and Steve Hartley blew the engine on their Ford Escort Mk2 on stage six, followed by second seeds Ian Joel and Phil Sandham with a broken diff on their Escort.

And when front runner Ian Sibbert and Chris Thomas blew the turbo on their Escort WRC, the way was clear for Borthwick and Wozencroft to take a well-deserved victory.

“We weren’t expecting to go down there and win. To be up there with Ian Joel and Ian Sibbert in the Cozzies was awesome,” said Wozencroft.

“When they dropped out we had to concentrate on getting to the finish, which was hard as Mark doesn’t know how to drive cautiously. Talk about wishing a car over the line, but we made it.”

Class winners included Mark Simpson/Boo Smith, Mark Coulton/Adrian Carnhill, Garry Carver/Mick Rust and Chris Ingram/Michael Gilbey.

All the proceeeds from the event, named in memory of the highly-respected MSA scrutineer Jack Neal from Pendle, go to the North West Air Ambulance.