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Edwards Ecstatic to land home BRC Victory

The 2019 Cambrian Rally would combine the opening rounds of both the BTRDA and British Rally championships with runners in the latter National A event intriguingly set to complete an additional 3 stages in the dark.

A healthy contingent of latest spec R5 machinery at the sharp end of the entry list had added additional excitement to the North Wales based event, which included 2 M-Sport entered Fiesta’s for FIA Priority 2 seeded Chilean brothers Pedro and Alberto Heller.

It was another M-Sport Fiesta in the hands of 2018 BTRDA and BRC champion Matt Edwards that again proved to be the class of the field however.  In a field stacked with quality, David Bogie and Tom Cave, would prove his closest challengers but whilst both claimed stage wins neither could match Edward’s consistency, with the Swift backed Ford man (co-driven by Patrick Walsh) going on to claim victory by 26.5 seconds.  Edwards’s later describing success on his home turf as a dream come.

Cave’s challenge would infact come to an unfortunate late end; despite completing the full stage mileage, the unlikely misfortune of suffering 3 punctures over the final loop of stages left the Welshman unable to attempt the final road section, allowng Bogie to claim the runner up position in his Fabia, and the similar machine of Northern Irishman Martin McCormack to round out the podium positions.

Behind, Peugeot 208 crew, James Wilson & Arthur Kierans claimed a hotly contested BRC Junior category victory which saw the top five runners separated by just 30 seconds!  Gaining the lead in stage 5, Wilson and Kierans managed to hold off a fast recovering Will Creighton (puncture delayed) over the final few stages to take class honours by less than 2 seconds!

In the National B event meanwhile, Euan Thorburn made a winning return to action in his WRC Focus.  Benefiting from a healthy lead developed over the morning loop, he and co-driver Paul Beaton had just enough in hand to nurse their misfiring Ford to Goldstar glory, with the Fiesta WRC of Charlie Payne and Carl Williamson a close second.

Perhaps benefiting from a return to running first on the road, it was runners from the 1400 and historic classes  that would fill the Silver Star podium positions.  2018 Champion, George Lepley switched to RWD machinery for the Cambrian and, co-driven by Arwel Jenkins, duly shone in Barry Jordan’s historic spec 8v Avenger, ending the day in a phenomenal 13th position overall and in turn claiming historic honours by over 40 seconds from the BDG powered Escort of Hugh Hunter!

2018 class winners Chris Powell and Jim Lewis, again topped the 1400 time sheets; the Sunbeam crew catching and passing 2019 Champion Dave Brick over the damp afternoon stages to claim a hard fought 2nd overall in the Silver Star category.  With the final step of the 2WD podium just reward for a strong drive by Brick.

Elsewhere, Lancer Evo 9 crew, Pat Naylor and Ian Lawrence, were first home in the showroom category with 4th overall whilst Ian Bainbridge and Daniel May claimed B13 victory with an excellent 5th in their very nicely turned out Subaru Impreza.

FULL RESULTS

NATIONAL A
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PHOTOS (click “view full size” for best resolution)

 

 

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Mellors Masters Cambrian in Brand New R5 Proton

Ollie Mellors and Max Freeman stylishly proved the pace of the Proton Iriz R5 on the North Wales based Cambrian Rally; the pairing fighting off a large contingent of R5 and WRC machines to claim a maiden BTRDA victory.

The BTRDA season opening Cambrian Rally had by no means attracted the largest of entries, but what it did boast was a quality filled top 20.  And with this in mind, few would have expected Ollie Mellors and Max Freeman, in the brand new Proton Iriz R5 to head the time sheets as the rally returned to the Llandudno finish; especially given the pairing had never even met prior to the event and many a WRC Ford were seeded in front of them.

The technical nature of the Snowdonia National Park stages more often than not reward local knowledge, skill and bravery however, and, despite the power disadvantage, it was the R5 cars which shone in the glorious North Wales sunshine.

Indeed, it was BRC regular Matt Edwards who leapt into a massive 16 second lead after the first run through Penmachno South, only for his victory challenge to be dramatically cut short when clipping a hidden log in stage 2.  Under new regulations however, Edwards and co-driver Darren Garrod were able to re-join the event for the final four stages thus gaining valuable seat time and continuing their utter domination of the stages; claiming stage victories by 6, 12, 8 and 4 seconds respectively!  A case of what might have been …

“To finish first, first you have to finish” is well known phrase in rallying, and Mellors was in prime position to take advantage of Edward’s indiscretion, taking a 7 second lead after stage 2 and managing to hold the Focus WRC of Paul Bird and Jack Morton at bay for the remainder of the event to record a mighty impressive 6 second victory, the most significant to date for the new Iriz R5.  An even more remarkable feat when you consider the Proton suffered a puncture in the penultimate stage.

Bird may well have fancied his chances against R5 machinery but, following a 2 year ban, will have been more than happy to commence his full time BTRDA return with maximum points; reward for the first championship registered crew home in second place overall.

Meanwhile, current champions Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson in the WRC Fiesta, made a strong start to their title defence.  After a conservative approach to stage 1 saw them lying 8th overall, the WD40 sponsored Ford crew upped their speed as the day went on to eventually round out the podium positions, just 30 seconds shy of the eventual winners.

Further back, Dylan Davies and Llion Williams claimed B13 class honours with 8th position overall in their Subaru Impreza whilst Russ Thompson and Andy Murphy were the first “showroom” class crew home in 10th aboard their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.

And, finishing just outside the top 40, Tom Coughtrie and Baz Green claimed the first ever class H4 victory for pre-91 historic machinery in their ex-works Mitsubishi Galant VR4.

SILVER STAR

The battle for 2 wheel drive victory was fought out by a wide variety of machinery and it was Ieuan Rowlands in the freshly built Historic specification Avenger who was quickest out of the blocks.  Usually aboard a Volvo engined MK2, the Ffestiniog resident, with Emyr Hall alongside, was using the event to shakedown the BRM engined machine ahead of a full British Historic campaign and held a 13 second Silver Star category lead until a stage 4 puncture dropped them back.

17th, 14th and 15th fastest time in the remaining three tests would however secure the local crew third place and top spot in the historic category.  On this evidence they will be at the sharp end of the BHRC battle when the series kicks off on next month’s Rally North Wales!

John Rowlands, in his usual B11 class MK2 Escort, would head a 2WD top ten remarkably covered by just 52 seconds following brother Ieuan’s issues in Alwen, themselves lucky to still be in the event following a huge moment in stage 1 (see Facebook!) And using his local knowledge to full effect was able to pull away from the field over the afternoon stages to register a relatively comfortable Silver Star victory for he and Glenn Latham.

2nd in the Silver Star category represented a fantastic result for Chris Powell and Jim Lewis in their 1400 Talbot Sunbeam.  The Herefordshire based duo putting in an incredible performance to end the event just 24 seconds behind John Rowlands in 17th position overall and take the 1400 category by over 3.5 minutes!

Elsewhere, James Williams and Ross Whittock claimed the combined B10/R2 honours with 19th overall in their Vauxhall Adam.  BRC regular, William Creighton in his Peugeot 208 had provided stiff early competition and held the class lead before losing 2 minutes in Penmachno North (SS6); thus leaving the door wide open for Williams and Whittock to claim the honour of first front wheel drive crew home.

Owen McMakin and Lee Taylor registered class B12 victory with 24th position overall in their MK2 Escort after a day long battle with Richard Sykes.  Sykes was in fact leading the class by 4 seconds in his Citroen DS3 before ending the day in a stage 6 ditch.

Josh Browne and Jane Edgington would wrap up a 23 second combined H1 & H2 historic class victory with 26th position overall whilst the second placed MK1 Escort crew of Ernie Graham and Robin Kellard were left to rue the 26 seconds lost on the opening 2 stages of the event.

Zak Hughes and Tom Wood claimed N3 class victory with 33rd position overall in their Fiesta ST whilst the Vauxhall Nova crew of Perry Gardener and Toby Brick were first home in 1400c with 48th position overall.

Rounding out the class winners, Sam & Liam Johnson and Matthew Baddeley & Shaun Hughes claimed the respective RF1.4 and RF2.0 classes in what turned out to be a tough event for the small contingent of Rally First crews.

Full Results

Concentrating on the front of the field you could be forgiven for believing UK Forest Rallying to be in good health.  However just 4 Rally First cars and not that many more 1400 machines started the Cambrian; the ludicrous MSA running order regulations surely contributing to the decline in numbers.  The second running of Llyn Elsi was described as rough by the top runners so you can only imagine how it felt for the smaller runners at the back.

Rally 2WD appears to be the way forward for some rallies but this format is unlikely to suit the BTRDA Championship and Nicky Grist, amongst others, has called for a return to running 2 wheel drive and historic machinery nearer the front.  Let’s hope common sense prevails before too long as with just over a week to go before round 2, the Malcolm Wilson Rally, the entry list is not exactly bursting at the seams!

However, this should not deter from was ultimately an excellent Cambrian following the snow and ice enforced cancellation of last years event.  The battle at the sharp end was as close as ever and despite long delays early on no stage mileage was lost, for which the organisers deserve massive credit.  But whilst the Cambrian has BRC ambitions for 2019, the question that has to asked is how sustainable the current BTRDA entry levels are? especially given last seasons hike in forestry commission charges.  Changing the running order may well be the only viable solution …

All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)

Outrageous Orme Charge Lands Francis Cambrian Victory

Luke Francis & John H Roberts claimed a sensational Cambrian Rally victory, defying the odds to convert a 10 second deficit into a 1 second winning margin with a phenomenal run over the Great Orme finale.

Francis_Alwen

With the Wyedean Rally no longer part of the BTRDA rally series, the Cambrian Rally, based in Llandudno, would take it’s place as the opening round of the season, just 4 months after concluding the 2015 championship.

An intriguing 127 car entry list had been compiled by North Wales Car Club which included the stage rally debuts of Euan Thorburn’s 208 R5 and Connor McCloskey’s WRC Mini.  The moderately sized field set to face 7 stages within the Snowdonia forests, rounded off by a quick blast over the infamous Great Orme toll road.

GOLD STAR

Amongst the leading crews were ex Gold Star champs Steve Perez, Hugh Hunter and Shaun Gardener but the main story of the 2016 Cambrian rally featured the contrasting fortunes of 3 crews in particular; 2015 King of Yorkshire, Charlie Payne in the Focus WRC engined Fiesta, local crew Luke Francis and John H Roberts in their familiar B13 Evo and 2013 Gold Star champ, Euan Thorburn, in his glorious new Peugeot 208 R5.

Few crews would have passed through Gwydyr before the event and with this in mind Charlie Payne’s 5m23s benchmark was mighty impressive.  Only Euan Thorburn, with Paul Beaton on the notes, was able to get within 10 seconds of the Ford man, the Peugeot possibly suffering a horsepower disadvantage on the steep climbs.

Payne, co driven by Carl Williamson, would continue his strong start with top 3 times on both the following Elsi and Penmachno tests.  In fact the Yorkshire-man was never outside the top 5 all day and it was this consistency which left the Fiesta crew heading into the Great Orme finale with what appeared to be a comfortable 10 second rally lead.

Payne

Thorburn meanwhile also went well in stages 2 and 3; the Scotsman setting second fastest time in Elsi before topping the time sheets in Penmachno to sit just 3 seconds behind Payne.  It would all go horribly wrong in Clocaenog East however as a trip into a ditch would cost the Peugeot man over 40 seconds and with it any chance of a debut victory.  The 2014 Scottish Rally Champions most definitely seemed at home in their new ride though and would be back in the podium positions before the day was out.

On paper Francis was up against it, his older Mitsubishi no match for many of the newer B14 machinery.   However, the local man’s secret weapon is his knowledge of the stages and whilst he and John H Roberts had not topped the time sheets on any of the forest stages,  consistent top 7 times had left them sitting 10 seconds behind Payne in second with just 2.95 miles of tarmac remaining.

A ten second gap over such a short stage may have seemed unbridgeable, but Francis has form on the Great Orme.  Just 4 months ago, the Rhuddlan man set fastest time by 8 seconds with a 2m38s stage time to claim an incredible second place overall.  Could he go one better in 2016?  With Payne registering a 2m51s stage time, the win was definitely on the cards.  And whilst Francis was not able to match his 2015 time, 2m40s was enough to claim the rally victory by a solitary second.  With that opposition a B13 car should not be taking BTRDA rally victories.  A simply stunning drive!

B14 top spot is unlikely to have been much consolation for Payne and Williamson in the circumstances, however they have got to be happy with their pace over the event.  After all, finishing ahead of Thorburn is no mean feat!

Elsewhere, fourth position overall represented a strong debut for Connor McCloskey and  Damien Duffin in the WRC Mini; ending the day just 32 seconds down and setting a fastest time along the way.  BTRDA Rally wins may well be on the cards in 2016 for the Northern Irishman.  Meanwhile 5th and 6th, on equal times and just 38 seconds down were the Fiesta R5’s of Hugh Hunter and Rhys Yates; both showing promising pace ahead of expected full season campaigns in the rejuvenated British Rally Championship.

PRODUCTION CUP

Perhaps lacking the strength in depth of 2015, the production cup battle quickly turned into a rally of attrition.  In fact, by the end of stage 3, we were down to just 4 remaining NR4 competitors with Aaron McClure rolling in Penmachno and Andy Davies retiring with gearbox problems.  Whilst Davies had been quickest in stage 1, it was 2015 front runners, Russ Thompson and Andy Murphy who lead for most of the day; building a 54 second lead over the Subaru of Paul Davy and Roger Allan by the end of stage 6.

Clitheroe man, Thompson, would however be cruelly robbed of a victorious start to 2016 following a mechanical failure on the stage 7 start line leaving Davy and Allan in pole position to take the Production Cup honours.  And that they did, building a 54 second winning margin over the Mitsubishi Evo 10 of Roland Llewellin and Ian Lawrence by the end of the day to claim an impressive 13th position overall.  With Davy not BTRDA registered however it was Llewellin and Lawrence who picked up maximum championship points.

Davy

Elsewhere, Owain Rowlands, with Tom Jordan this time alongside, repeated his 2015 success to claim class N3 victory with a strong 34th position overall.

SILVER STAR

Traditionally, Ffestiniog brothers, Ieuan and John Rowlands have featured at the sharp end of this event.  But whilst John was able to follow up his 2015 class B11 and Silver Star success with an impressive 15th position overall, early category leader, Ieuan, in the 2.8 litre Volvo engined MK2 was forced to retire with gearbox problems after just the third test of the day.

Rowlands_Alwen

John Rowlands, with Glenn Latham on the notes, was not as dominant as you may have imagined however.  In fact, number 53 seeds, Gavin Edwards and Caron Tomlinson kept the Welsh crew on their toes throughout the day.  And by the Llandudno finish were just 35 seconds in arrears in 16th position overall.

Meanwhile, 2015 RAC Championship winners, Phil Burton and Mal Capstick, had turned their attentions to the BTRDA series for 2016 and, whilst not able to match the pace of the aforementioned B11 Fords, were able to capitalise on the unfortunate retirement of Ieuan Rowlands; The Morecombe man going on to claim top spot in class B12 and 3rd place in the Silver star category with 18th position overall.

Burton

Elsewhere, BRC hopefuls, Josh Cornwell and Dai Roberts claimed class B10 honours with 30th position overall in their Fiesta R2, whilst the top scoring BTRDA registered crew were Bob Vardy and Sarah Ceen in 42nd position.  The latter pairing getting the better of Vauxhall Nova crew, James Hutchings and James Hood by a mere 8 seconds!

Cornwell

THOMAS PANELS BTRDA 1400

Whilst the entry list may have lacked 2015 champion David Bennett and fellow front runner Ash Slights, the expected FWD/RWD battle between Dave Brick and Josh Powell was tough to call; the latter having claimed a brilliant second in class back in October.  Disappointingly however the battle was over before it had really begun; the Sunbeam of Powell and Jim Lewis ending the day on it’s roof less than 1 mile into stage 1.

Despite his main opposition out, Brick, with 2015 BHRC champion Phil Clarke alongside, was never going take it easy; the Ludlow man going on to set fastest time on every stage bar the last to claim a commanding 1400 class victory with 22nd position overall.  A final position which may have been stronger were it not for a slow time over the Great Orme finale.

Behind, Jordan Hone finished second in class with 27th position overall; a strong result for the Proton Satria convert, whilst Matt Jackson and Claire Williams rounded out the podium positions in their Nissan Micra.  Rory Jones and Tom Hughes would claim 1400C top spot with 51st position overall in their MG ZR.

BTRDA HISTORIC CUP

Whilst Matthew Robinson and Sam Collis made all the headlines pre event by swapping their formidable MK2 Escort for an RSD prepared Fiat 131, it was Jerry Bailey and Graham Lacey who emerged from the Gwydyr opening stage with the category lead.  A lead which the Ford Escort pairing were able to build to as much 15 seconds by the end of stage 3.

From then on in though it was all about Theo Bengry and Les Forsbrook.  The vastly experienced Leominster man leaping into the class lead on the super-fast Alwen test before going on to record a 37 second Historic and class H3 victory.

BengrySS1

Bengry_Alwen

In class H2, it was David Dobson and Steve Pugh who were leading the way before taking a wheel off in Clocaenog East.  This left Dave Forrest and Steve Ward to battle it out for class honours over the remainder of the event.  Ward held the advantage over the morning stages but the tables turned on stage 6; a slow time allowing Forrest, with Charlie Carter on the notes, to slip into the class lead.  And from then on in the Yorkshire based crew never looked back; claiming 4th in the historic category with 40th position overall.

Forrest

Like Ward, H1 Winners, Robin Shuttleworth and Ronnie Roughead had been in front of Forrest for much of day but a slow time on the second running of Gwydyr allowed the Eaton Yale Escort to close in and ultimately take the position on the final stage.  Still, 5th in category, and 1st in class H1 was a great result for the MK1 Escort crew.

Shuttleworth

VITAL EQUIPMENT RALLY FIRST

And finally, the MSA running order regulations have not been kind to the rally first crews; a noticeable drop in entry numbers as a result.  However, Dominic Hodge and Stefan Arndt put in a great performance to claim category and RF1.4 victory in their Nissan Micra with a fantastic 44th position overall, beating several 1400C class cars in the process.  Meanwhile, Roger Lovatt and Osian Owen claimed RF1.0 honours and Des Fletcher and Bridge Carey were the first RF1.6 crew home.

FULL RESULTS

From our point of view the Cambrian Rally proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable start to the 2016 season and I personally prefer it’s new position in the calendar.  Photography was tough as always on this event but thankfully the weather remained dry, and despite cold temperatures, viewing on the Orme turned out to be unexpectedly pleasant.

If we learned anything from last weekend it is that Luke Francis and John H Roberts may well be the fastest Mitsubishi Evo 9 crew on the British Isles and if the pace of Rhys Yates, Hugh Hunter and Euan Thorburn is anything to go by, this year’s BRC will be an absolute belter!

Next up is the Red Kite Stages, see you in Mid Wales …

All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)

 

 

Cambrian Crown reward for Bogie Brilliance

David Bogie and Kevin Rae were in a class of their own during the 60th running of the Cambrian Rally; claiming victory by 54 seconds after 45 competitive stage miles.

Bogie_Cambrian2015

Despite the overall Gold Star title being wrapped up, the final round of the 2015 BTRDA rally championship had attracted one of the highest quality entries of the season, headed by Scottish Championship regular David Bogie and joined by the likes of Sam and Josh Moffett in WRC Fiestas, Jonathan Greer in an R5 Citroen and Osian Pryce in the brand new R5 Mitsubishi Mirage.  And whilst the top prize had been claimed, it was all to play for in the 1400, Silver Star and Historic categories as the BTRDA regulars headed to Llandudno for the 60th anniversary running of the Cambrian Rally.

GOLD STAR

It was clear from the outset that it would take some drive to defeat number 1 seeds David Bogie and Kevin Rae in their Fiesta R5+; the Scotsman opening up a 20 second lead after setting fastest time on the first three stages of the day.

With such a strong class B14 entry list however it was with some surprise that Luke Francis and John H Roberts were lying in second place overall at the halfway point in their ageing B13 specification Evo 9.  The local man clearly had the bit between his teeth and it was he who halted Bogie’s run of stage victories with a stunning time in Penmachno South, trimming the overall lead to 18 seconds at the Glan y Gors service halt.

Francis_Cambrian2015

2 stages later however we were looking at a very different leaderboard.  Outgoing BTRDA Gold Star champion, Steve Perez had being lying 3rd at service, but lost over a minute on the second running of Crafnant when the turbo pipe became detached, before ending the day in the Llyn Elsi scenery after trying to make up the lost time.  Meanwhile the fast starting Luke Francis dropped 43 seconds in the same stage, demoting the North Wales man to third and splitting the two WRC Fiestas of Josh and Sam Moffett.   As a result Bogie now held a commanding 57 second lead.

With just 2 runs through Penmachno followed by a loop of the Great Orme remaining you could have forgiven Francis for consolidating his third place overall and class B13 lead.  However Francis is blessed with an all or nothing attitude; the deficit to Josh Moffett reduced to 4 seconds with just 2.95 miles of tarmac to go.

And whilst local knowledge is a big advantage on the Orme, no one would have expected Francis to set a time 8 seconds quicker than anyone else, especially given the traction of some of the newer machines!  This had been a phenomenal drive by the Mitsubishi pilot; B13 rally victory also enough to claim the BTRDA class championship glory and end the year fifth in the Gold Star rankings.

The victorious Bogie had done all of the hard work early on and once Francis had dropped back in stage 6, the victory was never really in doubt; a leisurely run over the Great Orme finale reducing the winning margin to just under 1 minute by the time the crews arrived at the Llandudno finish.  This had been a mature and accomplished drive by the Scotsman on the tight and twisty North Wales stages; surely a BRC championship contender in 2016 should he appear on the entry list.

HYUNDAI GENPOWER PRODUCTION CUP

In a category marred by the tragic loss of Andrew Mort on the previous weekends Tour of Mull, it was Patrick Naylor and Ian Lawrence who took the victory with an excellent 7th place overall in their N4 specification Evo 9.

Naylor_Cambrian2015

Having claimed category victory on both the Woodpecker and Trackrod rallies, the West Midlands based duo had already wrapped up the title and so were free to fight for class honours on the final round of the season;  Naylor and Lawrence recording N4 victory by 34 seconds from the similar machine of Russ Thompson and Andy Murphy who themselves claimed the runner up spot in the title race.

Elsewhere, In a great sporting gesture, Aaron McClure elected not to claim championship points, which had he and Elliott Edmondson finished, would have still allowed Tom Naughton and the late Andrew Mort to finish the year in third position.  It is fitting that the much loved Scotsman will be forever in the BTRDA history books.

Further back, even after suffering a 1 minute time penalty, Owain Rowlands and Caron Tomlinson claimed class N3 honours with 78th position overall in their ME Rallysport Ford Fiesta.

SILVER STAR

Callum Black was clear favourite for the Silver Star title coming into the final round of the championship, requiring just a 7th place finish to wrap up the honours.  And all was going to plan by the end of stage 5, as the Northamptonshire man held a 4 second Silver Star lead in his Citroen DS3.  But disaster struck on the second run through Llyn Elsi as he and co driver Paul Wakely were forced into retirement with a gearbox issue.

This paved the way for Boyd Kershaw to snatch the title away from Black at the final hurdle, realistically just needing to complete the 3 remaining tests to take the crown.

Kershaw_Cambrian2015

And that they did.  While local man John Rowlands, co driven by Glenn Latham went on to take their MK2 Escort to event Silver Star and class B11 victory with a strong 13th position overall, Kershaw and Bryan Hull finished in 24th, 4th Silver Star crew home; this after a very steady time on the Great Orme finale courtesy of clutch problems.  Bryan Hull may have missed out on the Silver Star title courtesy of his Malcolm Wilson Rally absense, however his points tally was enough to share the B11 championship victory with his Reading based driver.

Rowlands_Cambrian2015

After the unfortunate demise of Black and Wakely, B12 honours went the way of Meirion Evans and Jonathan Jackson with an impressive 15th position overall; the Welsh duo increasing their speed over the drier afternoon stages to climb 11 places from 26th position at the halfway point.

Evans_Cambrian2015

Meanwhile Class B10 saw one of the closest finishes of the event; Rene Torcato and Keegan Rees taking victory by a mere 2 seconds from Kit and Tim Leigh, denying the latter class victory on what was their 100th event.  The class had been expected to be claimed by Tom Cave in his Fiesta R2, however the WRC regular was forced into retirement after the second stage, leaving Josh Cornwell and Dai Roberts in a similar machine to take up the mantle.

A stage maximum in stage 7 dropped Cornwell to third however, leaving a two way battle for the class honours over the final 2 stages.  Having lost 29 seconds to Torcato in stage 2, Leigh was on an afternoon charge, cutting the gap to 21 seconds by stage 4, 12 seconds after 6 and 8 seconds as they arrived at the Orme.  61st quickest time however was enough for Torcato and Rees to keep the Fiesta crew at bay in their Citroen C2.

KICK START 1400

The championship was destined to go 1 of 3 ways heading into the Cambrian with David Bennett, Ash Slights and Dave Brick all in with a shot at the crown.

By the end of stage 2 however, the championship was looking a little more clear cut as Bennett and Alistair McNeil held a 34 second lead over Brick with Slights 7 seconds further back following a puncture after a trip into a ditch.  Chris Powell in his Sunbeam meanwhile was interrupting the championship battle as he held an excellent second.

Bennett_Cambrian2015

In fact Bennett and McNeil went on to claim the title in style by setting top 25 stage times on all of the remaining tests to finish the event in 14th overall, equal on time with top 2WD crew, John Rowlands and Glenn Latham, but losing out on 13th courtesy of a 1 second slower opening stage time.

Behind, Chris Powell and Jim Lewis put in a great performance to take second in the 1400 class, while third was enough for Dave Brick to claim the runner up spot in the title race.  Ash Slights may have had a disappointing end to the season, however he and Alex Lee can reflect on what has been a successful year, a year which has seen the Yaris become a front runner in the class and at times more than a match for the super quick Bennett.

BTRDA HISTORIC CUP

The historic category on the Cambrian rally had attracted several none registered crews and it was Simon Webster and Frank Richer who inherited the lead from Ben Friend after stage 2 and never looked back; the MK2 Escort crew taking the Historic and class H3 rally victory with 25th position overall.

Webster_Cambrian2015

Paul Street however was the first BTRDA registered points scorer home in 5th, allowing the Mansfield man to snatch the Historic cup and class H3 titles away from RX-7 pilot, Jake Scannell by just a solitary point.

Street_Cambrian2015

H2 victory went the way of David Lloyd-Roberts and Dei Jones with 38th position overall.  Meanwhile second in class was enough for Dave Forrest and Charlie Carter to claim the BTRDA class title.

Jordan_Cambrian2015

In Class H1, Barry Jordan found himself up against the similar Hilman Avenger of Gary Edgington and Kate Bannister.  Jordan and Gratton-Smith are a formidable pairing these days however, the H1 class championship winners going on to claim victory by more than 2 minutes with 48th position overall.

FULL RESULTS
THE FINAL WORD

Having not been in the forests for the best part of three months, it was great to encounter David Bogie on top form; his speed and pin point accuracy a pleasant reminder of what we had been missing! This, combined with the balls out approach of Luke Francis amongst top commitment from several other crews, made the BTRDA season finale an enjoyable day out.

Llyn Elsi is another stage to tick from the list, and maybe more new territory can be explored early next year as the Cambrian becomes the opening round of the 2016 BTRDA championship.   After a year of being in the news for all the wrong reasons we can but hope that 2016 represents a new dawn for British rallying.

IMAGES

For JPEGS or any other enquiries please get in touch via paul.commons@yahoo.co.uk

All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)

 

 

Cambrian Win for Weston as Perez Secures Title

David Weston and Kirsty Riddick put in a stellar performance to claim victory on the Llandudno based Cambrian rally.  Second place was also enough for Steve Perez to land the BTRDA Gold Star championship crown.

Weston

Wet and slippery conditions faced the crews as they headed for the forests surrounding Betws-y-Coed for 8 stages which would ultimately decide which of the 2 championship contending Focus WRC pilots would walk away with the 2014 BTRDA Gold star championship title.

Paul Bird and Aled Davies got off to the worst possible start, losing 58 seconds to their rivals following an off in the tricky opening Crafnant stage.  This was a monumental blow for the Superbike team owner as the time deficit would be almost impossible to claw back without issues for the other drivers.  Steve Perez, co driven by Paul Spooner, meanwhile could breathe a little easier, knowing that as long as he beat Bird the title would almost certainly be his.

It was however David Weston and Kirsty Riddick who managed to pull away from the pack in stage 2, their first run through Llyn Elsi being 5 seconds quicker than anyone else.  And by half way it looked like the Scottish crew were on their way to a first BTRDA win of the season as they held an 11 second lead over Perez.  In fact only Bird seemed able to go quicker than the Subaru pairing; the Ford driver winning every remaining stage bar the second running of Llyn Elsi.   The Llyn Elsi stage most definitely belonging to Weston as the S12 Impreza was yet again quickest through this test.

By the finish Bird and Davies had managed to get within 32 seconds of Weston and just 12 seconds shy of rivals Perez and Spooner. While second and third for the Focus crews left them completely tied on points, it would be the Chesterfield man who took the crown based on his 22 point haul from the Plains Rally in May.  I doubt anyone imagined the title would be decided on 7th best scores when the championship kicked off last February!

Perez

After struggling to get to grips with the S12 Impreza on the Woodpecker and then finding his feet on the second half of the Trackrod it was pleasing to see Weston on the pace from the start of the Cambrian.  He was visibly quicker than anyone else in Crafnant 2 and a deserving victory was also rewarded with 3rd place in the BTRDA Gold Star points table.

Behind the front three, Matt Edwards, with Will Rogers on the notes, showed his class by taking 4th overall in his B13 specification Evo 9.  The local man improved his pace thoughout the day, but saved the best till last; just one second slower than Bird in Penmachno North and then matching the much quicker machine on the final Penmachno South test.  Suffice to say the North Wales man took B13 victory but it would be interesting to see what he could achieve behind the wheel of a WRC machine.

Edwards

Like Bird, Welsh Championship contenders, Alex Allingham and Chris Williams endured a terrible start to the event in their Group N Subaru, losing three minutes in Crafnant following a roll which left them in 123rd position!  An excellent drive through the field however saw them climb to 13th overall, claiming the Welsh Championship in the process as main rival Luke Francis hit problems.

Allingham

In fact Luke Francis’ retirement, caused by a holed fuel tank in Penmachno South, turned out to be very costly indeed as their fourth DNF of the year meant they would also miss out on the BTRDA B13 championship honours.  A title which instead went to the Evo 6 crew of Simon Rogers and Andrew Sankey.

Cambrian Group N victory went the way of Thomas Naughton and Andi Mort in their Evo 9.  The Mitsubishi crew were regularly fastest in class and were rewarded with a fine 6th place; over a minute clear of nearest rivals Pat Naylor and Ian Lawrence.  The 20 points gained from taking class victory was also enough to leapfrog Russ Thompson and Andy Murphy to take the 2014 BTRDA Production Cup title.

Naughton

Matthew Robinson and Sam Collis rounded off their year in style by taking 7th overall in the H3 spec Ford Escort.  Even more impressive when you consider that Welsh legend Gwyndaf Evans was second in class, some 42 seconds in arrears.  It has been a phenomenal year for the Escort crew, adding BTRDA H3 and overall Historic honours to the Silver Star crown which was theirs by July.  Incredibly they also finished 6th overall in the final Gold star standings; a fantastic performance given some of the machinery they were up against.

Robinson

The other big championship battle heading into the final round was the 4 way tussle for the 1400 crown.  With just 2 short stages remaining, title favourites Mat Smith and Giles Dykes held a near 2 minute lead over the rest of field.  However the little Ka had suffered radiator damage on the second running of Llyn Elis as well as beginnings of a clutch problem.  Remarkably they somehow made it through to the end, finishing fourth in class.  And a further 2 minute time penalty was not enough to stop them taking a well deserved 1400 title.  This had been an up and down rally to end an up and down season for the Yorkshire based crew.

Smith

Instead rally honours went the way of fellow championship challengers Marcel Freling and Karen Robinson in their MG with a commendable 17th overall.  By the halfway point they found themselves behind the Peugeot 106 of Dan Gray and Matt Rogers but were able to improve their pace over the afternoon loop of stages to take victory by 26 seconds.

Freling

The wet and slippery conditions had taken their toll on the silver star field with 5 of the top ten seeded cars, and 11 in total, finding themselves on the retirements list by end of the second stage!  There were however some stand-out performances behind the already mentioned Robinson and Evans.  Indeed third 2 wheel drive crew home were Rex Ireland and Adrian Scadding with 15th overall in their H2 Ford Escort who were clearly enjoying themselves in the process …

Ireland

While the Fiesta R200 of Kit and Tim Leigh was the second front wheel drive car home in 19th overall.  This also represented top spot in class B10, beating Gary Pearson and Dave Robson’s Peugeot 208 by just 5 seconds.

Leigh

B11 class honours went the way of Simon Tuckman and Shaun Hughes in yet another Ford Escort.  26th overall was enough to claim the class victory by 40 seconds from the similar machine of Jeff Wincott and Kevin Booth.

Tuckman

Meanwhile Steve Ellis and Steve Mcphee’s BMW 325i ended the day in 29th place and top of class B12 while Saleh Hijazi and Tom Bishop were class N3 victors in 75th position.

BMW

Hijazi

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my first visit to the Crafnant stage and the tricky conditions were a suitable platform to end what has been a fantastic series.  After starting the season in the Stratos, the BTRDA title must have been completely unexpected for Steve Perez.  However the Chesterfield man has been on top form throughout the year, and although he may not always have been the fastest, he did take three outright wins and was able to keep the car on the road when it mattered most.

And that is it for my 2014 national rallying year.  I expect to see many of the crews competing on Rally GB next month and maybe a few on the RAC as well.  With Perez likely to be back in the historic class in 2015, it will be interesting to see who will be in the fight to take his title.  Roll on the Wyedean in February ….

RESULTS

1. David Weston / Kirsty Riddick – Impreza WRC (B14) – 0:49:52
2. Steve Perez / Paul Spooner – Ford Focus WRC (B14) – +00:20
3. Paul Bird / Aled Davies – Ford Focus WRC (B14) – +00:32
4. Matt Edwards / Will Rogers – Mitsubishi Evo 9 (B13) – +01:05
5. Stephen Petch / Ian Windress – Ford Fiesta R5+ (B14) – +01:39
6. Thomas Naughton / Andi Mort – Mitsubishi Evo 9 (N4) – +02:41
7. Matthew Robinson / Sam Collis – Ford Escort MK2 (H3) – +03:10
8. Pat Naylor / Ian Lawrence – Mitsubishi Evo 9 (N4) – +03:48
9. Gwyndaf Evans / Dale Furniss – Ford Escort MK2 (H3) – +03:52
10. Ian Joel / Graeme Wood – Ford Escort WRC (B14) – +04:25
13. Alex Allingham / Chris Williams – Subaru Impreza (N4) – +06:17
15. Rex Ireland / Adrian Scadding – Ford Escort MK2 (H2) – +07:41
17. Marcel Freling / Karen Robinson – MG ZR (1400S) – +08:04
19. Kit Leigh / Tim Leigh – Ford Fiesta R200 (B10) – +08:23
25. Mat Smith / Giles Dykes – Ford Ka (1400s) – +08:49
26. Simon Tuckman / Shaun Hughes – Escort MK2 (B11) – +08:50
29. Steve Ellis / Steve McPhee – BMW 325i (B12) – +09:06
75. Saleh Hijazi / Tom Bishop – MG ZR (N3) – +22:05

 Full Results

 

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