Nick Elliott and Dave Price tamed the fast-flowing Mid Wales stages to claim a dramatic last gasp Rallynuts Stages Historic category victory aboard their Fiat 131 Abarth.
With the Rallynuts Stages rally forming part of the HRCR Historic Stage Rally Challenge and BTRDA Historic Cup a healthy contingent of historic specification machinery had appeared on the entry list including 4 of the top 5 finishes from last month’s Rally North Wales!
The Midland Manor Motor Club organised event would once again be based in Builth Wells but with the stages located further North, in the forests of Hafren, Myherin and Sarnau, an early start was in order. Not before a moment to reflect on the sad news of Craig Breen’s passing earlier in the week that is, a nice touch by organisers.
After claiming a superb victory on the recent Rally North Wales, Joe Price and Chris Brooks would have been many peoples favourite for top historic honours on the Rallynuts Stages but would find their event over almost as soon as it started, with the Ludlow based pairing unfortunately rolling out of the event in stage 1.
Elliott meanwhile was busy making (what has become the tradition) a rapid start to the event, 4 seconds quicker than anyone else in both Myherin West and East to hold an early 8 second historic category lead! Dropped time through both Hafren Sweet Lamb and Cwmysgawen however left the Cheltenham man in second at the half-way service point, with the Ford Escort of Robert Gough and Paul Morris 8 seconds further up the road.
Gough and Morris, a new combination for 2023, seem to be really gelling of late and looked to be well on their way to category victory after matching the time of Elliott on the first stage of the afternoon loop (Myherin Main). A slow time in the second running of Hafren Sweet Lamb however saw the Ford Escort duo’s lead slashed to just 2 seconds with 1 stage remaining. And with Elliot buoyed by a time 13 seconds quicker than his morning attempt could not quite hold onto their slender lead through the 4.69 miles of Cwmysgawen 2.
Elliott and Price don’t seem to have straightforward events in the Fiat and the 2023 Rallynuts Stages was no exception! However you would put money on them coming out on the right side of a close battle and that is exactly what happened on stage 7; the RSD prepared machine stopping the clocks 3 seconds quicker than the Ford of Gough and Morris to take a dramatic 1 second victory.
Third historic crew home were Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke who were making another appearance in the North Road Garage backed Escort. Where, despite a steady start, the 2017 BHRC champions were fastest historic pairing over the afternoon loop of stages to end the day just 10 seconds behind the historic category victors.
Further back, Ben and Steven Smith claimed the H1/H2 class honours with 7th in the historic section of the event; the Pinto powered MK1 Escort pairing finishing 47 seconds clear of the RS1600 of Jonathan Brace and Paul Spooner. Meanwhile Ernie and Karen Graham would round out the class podium positions in yet another MK1 Escort.
The historic category cars were as exciting to watch as ever through the ultra fast and flowing Myherin stage but none more so than Elliott through junction 13 of stage 2! I am not sure I have ever seen a car more sideways over half a mile of visible stage. That alone was worth the 6 hour round trip!