Fresh from Rally North Wales Victory, Matt Edwards and Hamish Campbell continued their excellent form to head a historic Fiat 131 one-two on the 2022 Rallynuts Stages Rally
With the Rallynuts Stages Rally attracting a very healthy contingent of historic machinery, and upon finding myself with a clear diary, it would have been rude not to head to mid Wales (Hafren in my case) on what promised to be a cold but pleasant early April day.
Indeed more than 35 historic category crews would leave the Builth Wells start line headed up by not one but two Fiat 131s; relatively high numbers for a BTRDA round but aided in part by the use of classic mid Wales stages such as Hafren and Myherin and being a qualifying round of the HRCR Stage Masters Challenge and the Welsh Historic Rally Championships.
And the crews would face a tricky opening couple of stages with snow on the ground in parts and the odd wintery shower thrown in too but it was the Italian machines of Matt Edwards / Hamish Campbell and Nick Elliott / Peredur Davies that would find themselves tied for the category lead as the event reached the Mid-day service halt; the pairings each claiming a fastest category stage time before tying the short Cwmysgawen test to leave everything to play for over the drier afternoon loop.
With brake bias issues corrected at service however, Edwards set a blistering pace through Myherin 2 and Hafren Main especially to find himself with a whopping 37 second advantage as they headed back to Cwmysgawen for the final 4.73 miles of the event. This had been yet another excellent drive by the 3 time British Champion who would go on to claim category victory by an impressive 40 seconds.
With Edwards in a league of his own over the afternoon loop, Elliott would instead find himself looking over his shoulders as the leading Ford crews closed in. Indeed Meirion Evans closed the gap to 9 seconds after SS4 and then to 8 following SS5 but with only a short stage 6 remaining Elliott just had enough in hand to register an excellent category one-two for the RSD prepared machines.
A strong afternoon push for Evans and co-driver Gwynfor Jones was however rewarded with 3rd in Category and class H3 victory aboard their MK2 Escort; the Welsh duo leapfrogging the similar machine of Ben Friend, who was suffering with a misfire, and managing to keep stablemates Roger Chilman and Paul Morris at bay.
The combined class H1/H2 victory would go the way of Jonathan Brace and Paul Spooner with 14th overall in the historic section, the MK1 Escort duo ending the day with a 42 second advantage after a seemingly faultless drive. The battle behind was far less clear cut however with David Lloyd Roberts catching and passing both the Fords of Andrew Stokes and Neal James over the afternoon loop to claim the runner up spot in dramatic style.
Elsewhere, Alan Walker and John Connor in yet another MK2 Escort would claim class H4 honours with 11th in the historic category. Meanwhile Matthew Hirst and Declan Dear perhaps surprised some with a very dominant display to take overall rally victory by 31 seconds. Perhaps more impressive still they were an incredible 15 seconds quicker than anyone else through Myherin 1! Definitely a crew to watch out for this season.
Overall this had been another top day out in possibly some of the UK’s finest rallying territory rounded off nicely by the amazing views on the drive out of Hafren forest. It will probably be a couple of months before my next rally but after such a good start to the season it can’t come soon enough!