Tag Archives: LLion Williams

S’No’w Stopping Evans on BRC Opener

An impressive late charge after an unfavourable early road position saw Welsh duo, Elfyn Evans and Craig Parry, overhaul the similar Fiesta of Fredrik Ahlin and Morton Erik Abrahamsen to claim a hard fought Mid Wales Stages victory; the opening round of a rejuvenated British Rally Championship.

Evans_MW16

After years in the doldrums culminating in a 1 year break, the British Rally Championship was back with a bang in 2016.  The Newtown based Mid Wales Stages was a completely new event to the BRC calender but appeared to have captured the imagination of the nations best drivers.  An impressive entry list topped by current M-Sport WRC2 crew Elfyn Evans and Craig Parry but also including a whole host of leading British crews proof, if ever it were needed, that the R5 headlined BRC was most definitely back on track.

68 stage miles lay ahead of the crews, with 2 classic tests in Hafren and Myherin on the Saturday evening to kick off proceedings; talk about jumping in at the deep end!  This, combined with the sprinkling of snow on higher ground, is precisely the kind of challenge that should exist in a top level national series.

BRC1

Whilst still on M-Sport’s books, Evans was unlucky to lose his full time WRC drive at the end of 2015 and would head into the opening round as a huge favourite for the event win.  And true to form the DMACK Fiesta R5 man was electric out of the blocks to set a time that was 18 seconds quicker than anyone else through the slippery 16 miles of Hafren Sweet Lamb.

Anyone who thought the Welshman would have it all his own way was however silenced on stage 2 when Swede and fellow Ford man, Fredrik Ahlin, topped the time sheets, cutting the overall deficit to 17 seconds at the overnight halt.  With the mountainous Myherin/Pikes Peak stage seeing more of the snow fall, could it be that the Swedish native had a better set up for the white stuff? …

Ahlin_MW16

It certainly seemed that way on the morning of day 2 as the impressive Scandinavian, whilst benefiting from a good road position, was able to set fastest time on both stages 3 and 4 to claw back all of the time lost to Evans and jump into a 3.5 second lead by the mid-day service halt.  But whilst thoughts of an upset may have crossed onlooker’s minds, Evans would no longer be sweeping the roads.  With snow and Ice now few and far between on stages already passed once, the rapid Welshman was able to fully attack the event’s final 23 stage miles.

As was the case on stage 1, no one could live with Evans’ pace through Hafren Sweet Lamb; Ahlin losing 16.4 seconds and ultimately the rally victory as Evans showed what the Ford WRC team were missing.  Their loss however is most definitely the British Rally fans gain as the number 1 seeds rounded off a fantastic fight back with their third stage win of the rally to wrap up victory by just 17 seconds; a much closer battle than many would have imagined pre event.

Behind, despite both David Bogie and Tom Cave enduring difficult starts to the event, it was they who would find themselves challenging for the final podium position.  A puncture had dropped Cave and co-driver, James Morgan, behind the Fabia of Bogie and Kevin Rae overnight, but a quick time on the very tricky opening Saturday morning stage, coinciding with an off for Bogie, would promote the young Welshman back up to third.

Cave_MW16

However, Bogie definitely had the pace, and after stringing together 2 impressive times in Myherin and Hafren found himself within touching distance of Cave’s Fiesta as they entered the final 8 miler.  But whilst Cave was able to set 3rd quickest time on stage, a differential problem would end Bogie’s charge, causing the recent Red Kite Stages victor to settle for a hard fought 4th.

DMACK JUNIOR BRC

Having not paid much attention to the junior ranks prior to the event, the front running crews turned out to be some of the stars of the Mid Wales Stages.  Who said FWD’s don’t go sideways?!  In what turned out to be a Ford/Vauxhall/Renault battle, it was the little Twingo of Norwegians’ Sindre Furuseth and Goril Undebakke who held an 8 second overnight lead after a blistering 11th quickest time overall on a tricky stage 2!

Furuseth_MW16

However, lying second at the start of day 2, Gus Greensmith and Alessandro Gelsomino increased their pace on the Saturday morning stages and stole the class lead on Pikes Peak before another quick time on stage 4 would see them hold a 3 and 11 second advantage respectively over Furuseth and the Vauxhall Adam of Robert Duggan and Gerard Conway at the mid-day service.

And despite fastest class times going the way of Furuseth and another Vauxhall junior driver in the form of Matthias Adielsson over the final 2 stages of the rally, it was Greensmith’s consistency which earned him and Gelsomino the well earned maximum class points.  I for one cannot wait to see this battle continue as the season progresses!

Greensmith_MW16

NATIONAL A CLASS RESULTS

Matt Edwards and Will Rogers were in a class of their own in the Swift Caravans backed Mitsubishi Evo 9.  The pair were never outside the top ten stage times to claim BRC2 victory by more than 5 minutes with a fantastic 7th position overall.  Along the way setting 4th quickest time on the very tricky stage 2; one of the highlights from a quite brilliant drive.

Edwards_MW16

Gee Atherton and Keaton Williams would end the day on top of the class BRC4 pile after a consistent drive saw them claim class victory by almost 2 minutes with 23rd position overall.

Atherton

Recent Top Gear addition, Chris Harris, co-driven by Brynmor Pierce suffered many a problem on the Mid Wales Stages but still managed to claim BRC3 victory in their glorious Toyota GT86 with 30th position overall.

Harris

NATIONAL CUP

Due to a lack of homologation, the trio of Mitsubishi Mirage R5’s were disappointingly forced to take part in the 68 mile National Cup instead of the full on National A event.  Whilst covering the same tracks as the BRC, the National Cup competitors would not be party to the Friday Recce of the stages.  And with this in Mind, Osian Pryce and Dale Furniss’ time of 16:46.8, good enough for fourth overall on combined times, on the opening Friday night stage was even more impressive.

Pryce_MW16

In fact by the end of the event the rapid Welshman was only beaten by Evans, Ahlin, Cave and Bogie on combined times as he and Furniss absolutely dominated the National Cup to take victory by a mammoth 8 minutes!  Such a shame that the Mirage is not eligible for the main BRC as a full recce may well have seen Pryce in a theoretical podium position!  A sublime performance.

CLUBMANS STAGES

Dylan Davies and Llion Williams were the class of the Clubmans field, setting fastest time on all but 1 of the 4 stages to claim victory by 55 seconds from another Subaru in the hands of Andy Davies; claiming maximum Welsh Rally Championship points in the process.

Davies_MW16

Elsewhere, 6th overall was enough for Stanley Orr and Guy Weaver to claim maximum HRCR Old Stager championship points.  The MK1 Pinto pairing getting the better of the similar powered MK2 Escort of Ben Friend and Cliffy Simmonds to take top spot by 20 seconds.

Orr_MW16

NATIONAL A RESULTS
NATIONAL B RESULTS
CLUBMANS RESULTS
THOUGHTS

Night stages, sleeping in the car, good access for spectators and the addition of a little snow made for a fantastic weekend.  There was a definite feeling that the BRC was back to its best!

We can only hope that the remaining rounds of the season can attract such strong entries as the Mid Wales and that Evans’ joker inflated maximum points haul does not deter leading crews from entering rounds later in the season.  Surely the BTRDA best 6 scores from 8 rounds concept would be a better way of maintaining interest for longer?  As it stands, Evans, clearly the favourite for the crown anyway has a monumental lead that is now unlikely to be challenged.

That aside, from a standalone event perspective you cannot fault what has been put together in 2016.  I never imagined for one moment that some of the best action would come from the junior ranks.  Furuseth, a much deserved Spirit of the Rally winner, and all 3 Vauxhall Junior drivers were an absolute delight to watch; I had forgotten just how quick these machines can be in the hands of top driving talent.  And up front the quality was just as good, If some time ago you would have told me that the Mid Wales entry would include previous BRC and SRC champions as well as two current WRC2 competitors I would never have believed you.  Roll on the Pirelli in April, my anticipated next slice of the BRC action …

All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)

paul.commons@yahoo.co.uk for any enquiries

Advertisement

Nicky Grist Win Blasts Bird into Title Contention

Paul Bird and Aled Davies ended David Weston’s BTRDA winning streak by taking Nicky Grist Stages victory for the second consecutive year; as a result putting themselves firmly back in the title fight.

Winners_NG15

A Mammoth 169 car entry had been compiled by Quniton Motor Club for the 35th running of the Nicky Grist Stages rally, where David Weston and Kirsty Riddick were looking to claim their fourth consecutive BTRDA victory of the season.  However, the Scottish duo would face tough opposition in the form of 2014 victors, Paul Bird and Aled Davies, and 2015 Malcolm Wilson Rally winners Euan Thorburn and Richard Cooke.

While there was little to choose between the three main protagonists on stages 1 and 2, the longer stages 3 and 4 proved decisive.  In the space of 13.5 miles, Bird and Davies had leapt from third to first, taking a 19 second advantage into the Builth Wells service halt; the Cumbrian setting a particularly impressive time in Crychan to go 9 seconds quicker than anyone else.

Thorburn set about closing the gap straight after lunch with a very quick time in Monument reducing the gap to 15 seconds, but braking issues in Route 60 dropped the Scotsman to third; his push for victory fading as he sat 29 seconds adrift of Bird and Davies with just 2 stages remaining.  And while they were back in form on Halfway 2, ultimately the Amigos sponsored Focus crew would end the day on the final step of the podium.

Weston meanwhile was setting a strong pace over the afternoon stages; joint quickest on Route 60 promoting the championship leader to second while a sensational time in Crychan 2 secured the runner up spot.  Weston and Riddick ended the event just 14 seconds behind the winners; a story which may have been very different had they not lost 18 seconds to Bird over the first pass of Crychan and Halfway.

Behind, Charlie Payne, Stephen Petch and Jamie Anderson all started the day well; Payne and Petch joint fastest on stage 1 while Anderson claimed stage 2 victory to leave Payne and co-driver Carl Williamson in the lead of the event after the first pass of Route 60.  But while Bird set Crychan alight, Payne, Petch and Anderson began to lose touch; Payne sitting 24 seconds behind the Focus pilot at the Builth Wells service halt, while Petch and Anderson were 9 and 11 seconds further back respectively in 5th and 6th.

Whilst both Petch and Anderson were quicker than Payne on certain stages of the afternoon loop, their inconsistency ultimately allowed the Amigos Fiesta to wrap up 4th position.  Anderson had gone into the final stage just five seconds adrift of the Yorkshire man, but instead of challenging Payne, a slow time relegated the Mitsubishi driver back to 6th.  Petch had earlier fallen behind Anderson courtesy of a couple of overshoots in route 60, however 4th and 5th quickest times in stages 7 and 8 were enough to re-gain 5th by the time the cars arrived back at Builth Wells.

Further back, 10th overall would secure Dylan Davies and Llion Williams top spot in class B13, beating the older specification Subaru of Sara Williams and Mark Glennerster to class honours by 51 seconds.

B13_NG15

All this leaves David Weston and Kirsty Riddick sitting pretty at the top of the BTRDA points table with a whopping 173 points from their first 6 events of the season.  However it is not over yet as three wins for Bird over the final three events would guarantee the Gold star crown.

HYUNDAI GENPOWER PRODUCTION CUP

Ever a close battle, the Nicky Grist Stages proved no different with the Mitsubishi Evo 9s of Roland llewellin, Tom Naughton and Patrick Naylor fighting it out for event honours in the top show-room class.

While regular front runners, Russ Thompson and Andy Murphy appeared off the pace, Roland Llewellin and Jamie Edwards were most defintiely not; recording 10th and 11th quickest times overall on the opening two tests to open up a 2 second class lead over the chasing pack.  And while Naughton was able to fight back in Halfway, Llewellin and Edwards were faster in Crychan leaving them returning to Builth Wells with a 3 second lunch time lead.

Llewellin was again quicker on stage 5, but Naughton took stage 6, leaving the pair separated by just 2 seconds with 13.5 miles remaining.  The great battle would however come to a premature end in stage 7 as Llewellin and Edwards left the road in Halfway, sadly bringing to an end what had been a great performance.

As a result the path was clear for series stalwarts Tom Naughton and Andi Mort to claim victory by 11 seconds from the chasing Pat Naylor and Ian Lawrence.  Russ Thompson and Andy Murphy meanwhile made up for their slow start to the event, recovering to claim third in class by the finish.

N4_NG15

After a morning battle with Tony Simpson, Ben Crealey and Phil Hall dominated class N3 in their Fiesta ST, climbing 22 positions over the afternoon loop to finish the event in 61st overall, taking class honours by 1 minute and 17 seconds.

N3_NG15

RAVENOL SILVER STAR

In a packed 2 wheel drive field it was the front wheel drive Citroen DS3 of Callum Black and Paul Wakely who got the better of their rear wheel driven rivals to claim the Nicky Grist Stages Silver Star honours.

B12_NG15

Rudi Lancaster had started the event well and found himself leading the Silver Star category after stage 1.  However a quick time for Black in Crychan left the DS3 driver with a 10 second lead at the the Builth Wells service halt.  In fact Lancaster, accompanied by George Gwynn, had an up and down day in terms of stage times but ended on a real high to jump from 4th to 2nd on the final stage of the event; claiming top historic honours in the process with 24th position overall.

H3_NG15

Meanwhile Black and Wakely were consistently the quickest 2 wheel drive machine over the second half of the event, taking 19th position overall and extending their Silver Star lead to almost 1 minute by the end of the rally.

Fourth place in the Silver Star section went to Max Utting and Mike Ainsworth in their Fiesta ST.  After a day long battle with the MK2 Escort of Boyd Kershaw, Utting and Ainsworth claimed class B11 honours after turning around a 27 second deficit on the final stage; Kershaw and co-driver Bryan Hull unluckily suffering from a double puncture on the longest stage of the event.

B11_NG15

It was all Ford affair in class B10, as Mike Harris and Steven Davey overturned a 10 second lunch time deficit to claim a 4 second victory over championship class leader Rhys Yates.  28th quickest time on the final stage, 7 seconds quicker than Yates, rounded off a great afternoons work for the Southern England based crew.

B10_NG15

Meanwhile, within the Historic cup, David Lloyd Roberts and Dei Jones defeated the fellow Escort crew of Neal James and Kevin Jones by 16 seconds to claim class H2; a lead grasped on stage 2 and never relinquished although a slow time on stage 8 somewhat narrowed the final class margin.

H2_NG15

And last but not least, Barry Jordan and James Gratton-Smith claimed top spot in class H1, bringing their Hilman Avenger home in a very credible 63rd position overall, a result that would have been even better but for a slow time on the final stage.

H1_NG15

KICK START 1400

Ash Slights and Alex Lee claimed a very well deserved first ever 1400 category victory on the Nicky Grist Stages, bringing their Toyota Yaris home in 30th position overall, 4th two wheel drive across the line.

1400S_NG15

David Bennett and Alistair McNeil would have been many observers pre event favourites, however the Vauxhall Corsa crew were out of contention before the event had really gotten started, suffering from drive Shaft issues as early as stage 1.

Instead it was Dave Brick and Ryan Weston who mounted the main challenge, with both crews in front of the Yaris after 3 of the morning stages.  However, as with many of the classes, Crychan was the turning point as Slights leapt into the category lead with 24th quickest time overall.

From then on, the York man never looked back, setting fastest class time on all remaining stages to take 1400 victory by 26 seconds.  Weston in his Proton meanwhile had the beating of Brick’s Nova over the afternoon loop to claim 2nd in class and cement his place at the top of the championship points table.  This could yet turn out to be a very good year for the Weston family.

Fourth position overall in the 1400 class represented yet another fantastic result for Keith and Mairi Riddick in their 1400C specification MG ZR; the Scottish duo claiming class victory by a massive 2 minutes and 41 seconds!

1400C_NG15

VITAL EQUIPMENT RALLY FIRST

Nick Carr and Joe Sturdy claimed overall rally first victory in their 1400cc VW Lupo, beating 1600cc class victors, Matthew Thompson and Charlotte Banner by 24 seconds.  Meanwhile John and Duncan Freeman claimed top spot in the 1 litre class with their Nissan Mica.

RF14_NG15

RF16_NG15
RF1_NG15
RESULTS

1. Paul Bird / Aled Davies | Focus 07 WRC (B14) | 0:46:14
2. David Weston / Kirsty Riddick | Impreza WRC (B14) | +00:14
3. Euan Thorburn / Richard Cooke | Focus WRC02 (B14) | +00:27
4. Charlie Payne / Carl Williamson | Fiesta (B14) | +00:41
5. Stephen Petch / Ian Windress | Fiesta R5+ (B14) | +01:01
6. Jamie Anderson / Jon Scott | Mitsubishi WRC05 (B14) | +01:01
7. Dave Wright / Michael Wilkinson | Focus WRC01 (B14) | +01:19
8. Desi Henry / Liam Moynihan | Skoda Fabia S2000 (B14) | +01:26
9. Bob Ceen / Andy Bull | Impreza S9 WRC (B14) | +01:27
10. Dylan Davies / Llion Williams | Subaru Impreza (B13) | +02:07

FULL RESULTS

The Ludlow based Woodpecker Stages is next up for the BTRDA crews, where Bird must win again to keep the pressure on David Weston.  Having claimed Woodpecker victory in 2014, the prospects look good for the Focus WRC man …

IMAGES

Standard prints are available HERE

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

All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)