Huw James and Ian Jones proved to be the class of the field, braving the slippery morning conditions before storming to a second AGBO Stages victory in as many years aboard their Ford Escort MK2.
After heavy snow in the run up to the event, thankfully the Owen Motoring Club organised AGBO Stages was given the green light, paving the way for me to witness rallying at Weston Park for the first time in well over 30 years (not that I have any recollection of my last visit)! The AGBO Stages for one reason or another is an event I have never managed to make previously but with another impressive entry list compiled for 10 short stages within the confines of the Staffordshire parkland estate I was determined not to miss out in 2023.
Having been victorious in 2022, Huw James and Ian Jones would lead the cars away in their Ford Escort MK2 and despite a cautious start were well into their stride by stage 3 to climb to the top of the time sheets. In fact as the stages became drier on what were relatively pleasant early March conditions the pairing really began to stretch their legs and almost cruise to a 23 second victory; an excellent drive, and quite a margin given the total time on the clock was just over 23 minutes!
Behind, having initially lead the event, Oliver Davies and Jack Bowen’s attention quickly turned to their mirrors with a fast charging Lee Edwards, in his recently re-built Ford Escort G3, in hot pursuit. Sitting 8 seconds in arrears after stage 5, the Oswestry man, with Mike Roberts alongside, stormed through the next 3 to trail Davies and Bowen by just 1 second with 1 stage remaining. And with momentum on their side there was no stopping the V6 Jaguar engined Ford crew (what an exhaust note by the way!) as they went on to claim the runner up spot by a mere second!
Class C for 2 litre 2WD drive machinery turned out to be another closely fought affair. And whilst the rapid Peugeot 205 of duo of Andy Corner and Ade Campo were quick out of the blocks (and would top the class times sheets for much of the day), it was the Darrian T90 crew of Dai Dot Davies and Gerwyn James who would come out on top of a final stage shootout to claim class victory with 8th position overall; in turn making it a special day for Tregaron Motor Club following Huw James’ overall success!
Elsewhere, Tom Bishop and Isobel Mansell, aboard their Vauxhall Nova, put in the giant killing performance of the day to claim class A honours with a fantastic 18th position overall, whilst Citroen C2 pilot Marcus Ridley (co-driven by Antony Knight) was first home in Class B with a very impressive 26th position. The 2023 edition of the AGBO stages was also the first time “H Pattern” 4WD machinery were able to compete and the stunning Mitsubishi Evo 3 of Wayne Larbalestier and Matt Endean would go on to claim class E honours with 12th overall.
All in this had been a fabulous days entertainment for just £8 each and having taken so long to finally attend the event I can categorically state that it will not be my last!