Local crew, Henri Grehan and Dan Petrie put an end to recent Fiat British Historic Rally Championship dominance by registering an impressive Historic Class victory on the Phil Price Memorial Woodpecker Stages and Cement their place at the top of the BHRC championship standings.
Always rapid in Radnor and Haye Park, Grehan and Petrie would have been amongst the pre-event favourites for rally victory, along with multiple British Rally Champion Matt Edwards (Fiat 131) who had taken a string of Historic victories in recent times. And as expected it was the aforementioned duo who set the early pace; Edwards, with Hamish Campbell alongside, quickest in Haye Park and Cwm Y Gerwyn but with Grehan holding the lead at the halfway point courtesy of an exceptionally quick time in stage 3 which was equal 10th fastest overall!
The phenomenal battle would then continue throughout the afternoon stages with Edwards marginally quicker in stage 4 and 5 to leave the crews tied on equal times heading into the Stanlo Trump finale. But unfortunately rally followers were robbed of a proper final stage showdown as the Italian machine would suffer a mechanical failure forcing Edwards into a final stage retirement. A disappointing end for the RSD prepared Fiat crew who were looking to make it a hat-trick of BHRC victories but conversely an excellent result for the Plas Lime backed MK2 Escort of Grehan and Petrie who now sit comfortably at the top of the championship standings.
Edwards’ retirement had however paved the way clear for Robert Gough / Sam Collis and Nick Elliott / Dave Price to claim the respective final 2 steps on the Historic class podium. After a relatively steady run through the first pass of Haye Park, Gough and Collis were never outside the top sixteen stage times to claim the runner up spot in their MK2 Escort whilst Elliott and Price were not quite able to match the pace of the 2 Ford crews ahead of them but were rewarded with 3rd overall and first in class G1 after a strong drive aboard their immaculate Alitalia liveried 131.
Behind, category 2 victory would go the way of Chris Skill and Brian Hodgson aboard their MK1 Escort as they claimed 10th overall in the National Historic class, with C2 class winners Rory and Paul McCann (Hillman Avenger) just pipping C3 class winners Josh Carr and Richard Wardle (MK1 Escort) to second in category. Elsewhere, Rudi Lancaster and Guy Weaver (MK2 Escort) topped class G2 with 6th overall, Ford Escort pairing Neal James and Kevin Jones headed class D3 with 20th and Malcolm and Ron Mounsey were first home in class D2 in their Talbot Sunbeam.
Meanwhile Michael McDaid and Declan Casey (MK2 Escort) would claim BTRDA Historic Cup victory. The Irish pairing managing to keep the similar machine of Richard Gough and Jonny Tad Evans at arms-length throughout the event to claim top spot by 17 seconds. Class H1/2 winners Jonathan Brace and Paul Spooner would defy their seeding to round out the podium positions in their MK1 Escort after yet another strong drive.
After many years away from the Shropshire/Herefordshire forests it was nice to make a return to Haye Park and great to catch up with several fellow enthusiasts! Next up for the BHRC crews is the North Yorkshire based Trackrod Rally towards the end of September where championship leaders Grehan and Petrie will be looking to edge one step closer to a maiden BHRC championship crown.