Tag Archives: Wales

Ahlin & Petch Claim Nicky Grist Spoils

Since my last visit in 2015, the mid Wales based Nicky Grist Stages has gained British Rally Championship status, and with it, an additional day of action of the very fast Tarmac roads of Epynt; uniquely making the event the only multi surface fixture on the 2017 BRC Calendar.

The 2017 British Rally Championship hasn’t quite attracted the same level of interest as it’s re-birth year however and thankfully the modest 28 international entries were swelled somewhat by a healthy 102 national B competitors taking part in the Saturday only BTRDA round; a pivotal round 6 of 8 in the 2017 championship.

There are few better views in British rallying than that offered by Route 60 and from our vantage point between junctions 5 & 6 it was easy to see why Osian Pryce and Dale Furniss had taken an early lead in their Spencer Sport Fiesta R5.  Their commitment over the infamous crest was second to none with this moment alone making the 7 hour round trip worthwhile!

But, having been quickest on 5 of the 8 gravel stages and having built a lead of just over 19 seconds by the overnight halt, things would all go wrong for the Welsh pairing as the event headed for the Tarmac.  Disappointingly, having played their joker, the pre-event championship leaders would initially pick up a five second penalty before being forced into retirement on stage 12 with fuel pump failure.

This left the door wide open for Fredrik Ahlin and Torstein Eriksen to claim their 3rd win of the year.  Just eight seconds in arrears heading into SS12, the Swedish/Norwegian pairing were more than worthy winners and will look to consolidate their championship lead over the final 2 Asphalt rounds of the season.

Whilst not able to benefit from the same pre-event recce as the BRC competitors, the action at the front of the BTRDA field was just as fierce; a three way fight for the event win soon developing between the WRC fiesta’s of Peter Taylor and Stephen Petch and the R5+ machine of Callum Black.

Two early stage wins for Peter Taylor, co driven by Andrew Roughead, had seen the Carlisle man take an early lead before a puncture in SS4 would drop them back to third.  Taylor would fight back during the afternoon loop however, claiming 3 of the 4 stage wins, but the overall victory proved just out of reach.

Whilst consistency had been the key for Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson to emerge as leaders following Taylor’s problems in stage 4, it was a turn of pace in stage 7 that would ultimately seal victory.  Callum Black and Peter Taylor were just a respective 5 and 6 seconds in arrears heading into the second running of the Halfway stage, however a clear fastest time overall for the Bishop Auckland man ensured he and Wilkinson would take a relatively comfortable 9 second margin into the Crychan finale.  And whilst Taylor claimed his fifth stage win to snatch second from Black, Petch maintained his nerve to record an 8 second victory.  A victory which puts him right back in the title hunt with just the Woodpecker and Trackrod to run.

The production based Group N machines excelled in the dry and dusty conditions with eventual class winners, Sacha Kakad and James Aldridge, finishing the day in an excellent 5th position overall.  Kakad didn’t have it all his own way however; the evo X driver first having to fend off a fast starting Patrick Naylor and later an afternoon charge from the vastly experienced Richard Hill.  Naylor and Hill’s victory challenges would end with time losses in SS4 and SS7 respectively however, leaving the consistent Russ Thompson and Andy Murphy to claim second, just 5.7 seconds in arrears.  An apt result given Kakad and Thompson shared fastest time overall on the days third test.

Class B13 honours would go the way of Subaru crew,  Toni Carannante and Simon Coates, with 11th position overall; a class which Dylan Davies and LLion Williams had dominated before retiring with power steering failure in SS6.  Davies’ unfortunate demise did however throw the battle for class victory wide open with just 4 tenths separating Carannante and the Mitsubishi Evo 6 of Simon Rogers as they approached the final 2 stages.  And despite Rogers, with Wyn Davies alongside, recording a time 6.5 seconds quicker in the Crychan finale, Carannante and Coates would take class victory courtesy of a super quick pass through Halfway.

With 13th position overall, Richard Sykes and Simon Taylor claimed an excellent Silver Star victory in their Citroen DS3; the Black Country/York based pairing dominating proceedings in both class B12 and the two wheel drive category to take victory by almost 50 seconds.

Second in category, and 16th overall, was the MK2 Escort of B11 class winners Owen McMackin and Lee Taylor.  Strong performances in both runs of Halfway and Crychan the deciding factor as they headed home another MK2 in the hands of Nick Dobson and Steve Pugh and the Andy Davison/Tom Murphy piloted Sunbeam.

Just one place further back in 17th were 1400 victors Dave and Toby Brick.  The “Flying Farmer” was at his flamboyant best over the morning run of Route 60 and would find himself locked in a day long battle for class victory with the Talbot Sunbeam of Chris Powell and Jim Lewis; the duo separated by just 4.2 seconds as they headed into the final stage.  Unfortunately for Powell however, the Herefordshire Raceway backed machine would not emerge from stage 8 leaving Brick to take a very hard fought victory.

Bob Vardy and Keaton Williams fought off a healthy gathering of B10 rivals to claim class victory in their Ford Fiesta R2.  Lying second at the mid point service, Barry Jordan and James Gratton-Smith had closed the gap to just 2 seconds after the second running of Route 60 but would ultimately drop to third behind another R2 in the hands of Jordan Reynolds.  Neither of whom quite had the pace to catch Vardy and Williams as the pairing registered a 12.9 second class victory with 22nd position overall.

Steve Ward and Mike Crawford enjoyed a strong run over the Mid Wales gravel to claim overall Historic and class H2 honours with 33rd position overall.  Josh Browne had taken an early lead in a similar MK2 Escort but was forced into retirement after stage 4 leaving the way clear for Ward to take victory from the H3 class winning Ford of Paul Gunter and Jack Walby.  Meanwhile Class H1 would go the way of Ken Davies and Alan Jones in their Volvo Amazon.

Elsewhere, Joe Evett and Matt Fowle would claim 1400C honours with a superb 35th whilst Sam Bilham and Cameron Fair would record class N3 victory with 38th position overall.  Bart Lang and Sinclair Young meanwhile defied their seeding with a dominant Rally First victory in 53rd position overall!

FULL BRC RESULTS

FULL BTRDA RESULTS

CLASS WINNERS GALLERY

Having not managed to attend any BTRDA events in 2017 prior to the Nicky Grist it soon became apparent what I had been missing.  The variety of machinery is the key, made even better by the inclusion of the BRC competitors; the extra commitment of whom, probably aided by the recce, was at times simply breathtaking!

The addition of the BRC certainly helped bolster entry levels too; something which the Trackrod Rally in late September will be hoping to replicate as the event closes out the season for both the BTRDA and BHRC championships.  With many events struggling for entries in 2017, maybe searching for more ways to entwine the 3 major UK championships is the answer …

All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)

Hill Triumphs as Rivals Hit Trouble

While early front runners Nick Elliott and Matthew Robinson both hit trouble late on, Richard Hill and Iwan Jones judged their pace to perfection to take the Severn Valley spoils.

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Round 4 of the British Historic Rally Championship saw the crews head to Mid Wales for the Builth Wells based Severn Valley Stages, with the 97 car field facing 8 classic stages within the Crychan and Halfway forest complex.

Pleasant Spring sunshine greeted the cars as they headed for the morning loop of stages and it was Nick Elliott and Dave Price who picked up where they left on the Pirelli, stealing 4 seconds from their rivals over the relatively short Cefn opener.  As was the case in Kielder, Matthew Robinson and Sam Collis would again face the tough challenge of chasing down the traditionally fast starting Cheltenham crew.

Indeed, while Robinson was able to fight back in Crychan to half the deficit, Elliott went on to take three seconds back in Halfway.   The Ford duo then tied the final stage of the morning loop, leaving the lead battle poised at 5 seconds in favour of the current RAC champions by the mid rally service halt.

Behind the leading two, Ben Llewellin and Ross Whittock had had a very good morning and were lying just 5 seconds behind Robinson in third.  Meanwhile, Pirelli giant killers, Paul Barrett and Dai Roberts were at it again, defying the odds to sit fourth; 1 second up on Hill and Jones and 8 in front of Pritchard and Clarke courtesy of some very impressive stage times.

Other leading contenders coming into the Severn Valley did not fare so well however.   Joe Price and Chris Brooks had been expected to feature but unfortunately fell foul of the infamous ‘Bell Hairpin’ in Crychan, while Meirion and Steffan Evans were again out of luck, retiring with Engine problems in Halfway.

The afternoon loop was an exact replica of the morning with a further 22 competitive stage miles providing ample opportunity for the aforementioned top 6 to shuffle positions.  With no interim service, and potentially rougher stage conditions on the second pass, the podium positions were far from settled.

By stage 6, it was clear that the afternoon tests were suiting both Hill and Pritchard as each recorded a fastest time to move up to third and fourth respectively.  This in part due to Ben Llewellin’s unfortunate demise in Crychan; the young Welshman forced to retire having bent a steering arm at junction 12.  Whilst not quickest Historic, Elliott was getting the better of Robinson; he and Price managing to increase the lead gap to 12 seconds.  With just two stages remaining the championship leaders appeared on course for a third straight victory …

Nothing is certain in rallying though and the second running of Halfway was where it all began to unravel for the 3 time Severn Valley victors; the glorious red, white and blue Escort developing a clutch problem which caused them to lose four seconds and make a rolling start to the Gwibedog finale …

But cruelly, just as Robinson and Collis could sense their maiden 2015 BHRC victory the pendulum had swung back in favour of Elliott and Price as the chasing Escort was forced to retire with alternator failure just three miles from the finish.  Thoughts of Elliott making it three in a row were over less than a mile later however as the pre event championship leaders joined them on the retirements list courtesy of a heavy roll after clipping a bank.  In one stage the shape of the event had changed completely!

Lying fifth at the halfway point, Hill was much quicker over the afternoon loop of stages but couldn’t ever have imagined that 3 of the cars in front would all fail to make it to the finish.  As the old adage goes, “to finish first, first you have to finish” but it was not as though Hill was taking it steady as he and Jones fought off the fast charging Jason Pritchard to take BHRC victory by 10 clear seconds.

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 CATEGORY 3

Second place in the National A Historic Rally for Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke was rewarded with class F2 honours; the Red Kite winners finishing 48 seconds clear of Tomas and Eurig Davies in their similar MK2 Escort.

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Paul Barrett and Dai Roberts were yet again in a class of their own.  For the second rally in succession they were amongst the BDA machines, finishing the National A Historic event in a fantastic third position overall to claim class D3 by an enormous 1 minute and 40 seconds!  The mind wonders what could be achieved in a D5 specification machine …

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Chris Skill and Captain Colin Thompson may have been the only crew to complete the event in class D2, however, 21st National A Historic home represented a good result for the 1600 MK2 pairing.

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CATEGORY 2

David Stokes and Guy Weaver went into the Severn Valley Stages looking for their fourth straight category victory and leapt into an early 9 second lead after the first 2 stages of the event.  John Perrott and Keaton Williams however, having run Stokes close on the Pirelli, were soon up to speed and had cut the gap to 5 seconds by the Builth Wells service halt.

Whilst the morning belonged to Stokes and Weaver, the afternoon sunshine was certainly shining on Perrott and Williams; Crychan being the pivotal stage as the orange MK1 Escort turned a 5 second deficit into a 5 second lead.  A gap which turned out to be the winning margin for the Hereford man, bringing an end to Stokes’ and Weaver’s fantastic run of class C5 victories.

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James Slaughter and Keegan Rees were again dominant in class C3, ending up just 1 win short of a second successive clean sweep of class stage victories.  The MK1 Escort crew finished the National A Historic event in a very creditable 16th position overall to record a 55 second class victory.

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Class C2 turned out to be a duel between the MK1 Escort crews of Dave Watkins and Tom Jordan and Robin Shuttleworth and Ronnie Roughead.  And while Watkins jumped into a 5 second lead on the opening Cefn stage it was Shuttleworth who seemed to have the greater pace throughout the day; taking the class lead on the opening stage of the afternoon loop and ultimately taking class victory by 18 seconds.

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CATEGORY 1

The MSA’s running order regulations seem to be having more of a negative impact on the category 1 machines with each passing event, with just 6 cars appearing on the Severn Valley Historic Stages entry list.

Bob and Dale Gibbons in their MK2 Cortina GT had been quickest on stage 1, but Paul Mankin and Malcolm Rich in their respective MK1 Cortina and Ford Anglia were the front runners by the halfway point; Gibbons forced to retire with a blown engine at the start of stage 4.

Paul Mankin and Desmond Bell held the category lead in the early part of the afternoon, but the Halfway stage proved decisive as Malcolm Rich and Jonathan Hawkins registered a time which was 20 seconds quicker.  The Anglia pairing were then fastest again on the final stage to claim category honours by 21 seconds, taking class B3 in the process.

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Class B4 victory the consolation prize for Mankin and Bell …

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Meanwhile Phil Harris, this time aided by Paul Price, was the third category 1 car home; the Morris Mini Cooper crew ending the day 33rd overall in the National A Historic event and top of class B2.

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RAC CHAMPIONSHIP

Phil Burton and Mal Capstick were again amongst the National A front runners before losing over four minutes on the second running of Crychan.  Thus paving the way for James Potter and Bob Duck to claim class BD2 and the overall National B Historic victory; themselves setting a strong pace to defeat the stunning Lotus Sunbeam of Gary Cooper and Jon Riley by over 1 minute.

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Graeme Standen and Jane Edgington were the third crew home in the National B event, taking class BD1 in the process; a great result in their 1600cc Escort.

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Elsewhere, Vince Bristow and Tim Sayer made up for their off on the Pirelli to record victory in class BC1 while ex Volvo Amazon pilot Graham Waite, with Mike Reynolds on the notes, took the BH1 win in his Toyota Corolla.

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Following Burton’s time loss, Barry Stevenson-Wheeler and John Pickavance looked odds on for BH2 victory, however they too suffered a significant time loss on the very next stage which put them back behind the Lancastrian crew.

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Meanwhile Robert Rook and Miles Cartwright claimed class BC2 with 8th position overall in the National B Historic event.

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MODERN

Whilst on paper Bob Ceen and Andy Bull may have had the faster machinery, many would have expected the rapid pairing of Luke Francis and John H Roberts to bring home the bacon in their B13 specification Evo 9.  However Ceen and Bull put in a stellar performance in the aging WRC Subaru to register overall rally victory by 24 seconds and claim maximum points in the Welsh Championship.  Meanwhile Dylan Davies and Llion Williams rounded out the podium positions in their Subaru Impreza.

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COMBINED RESULTS

1. Bob Ceen / Andy Bull | Subaru Impreza WRC (M6) | 0:47:35
2. Luke Francis / John H Roberts | Mitsubishi Evo 9 (M5) | +00:24
3. Dylan Davies / Llion Williams | Subaru Impreza (M5) | +01:10
4. Roland Llewellin / Jamie Edwards | Mitsubishi Evo 9 (M6) | +01:45
5. Paul Davy / Roger Allan | Subaru Impreza (M6) | +01:55
6. Andy Davies / Dale Bowen | Subaru Impreza (M6) | +02:30
7. Richard Hill / Iwan Jones | Ford Escort MK2 (D5) | +02:42
8. Jason Pritchard / Phil Clarke | Ford Escort MK2 (F2) | +02:52
9. Paul Barrett / Dai Roberts | Ford Escort MK2 (D3) | +03:00
10. Rudi lancaster / George Gwynn | Escort MK2 (D5) | +03:22

FULL RESULTS
TALKING POINT

Leading BHRC Championship Contenders after Round 4
Stokes / Weaver – 225
Pritchard / Clarke – 203
Elliott / Price – 188
Robinson / Collis – 182
Perrott / Williams – 170
Barrett / Roberts – 168
Hill / Jones – 145

Will Elliott and Price live to regret that off on the final stage?  With six scores from the eight BHRC rounds counting towards the end of year standings, the Cheltenham duo now have two scores that they would prefer to dispense with, meaning another non finish would seriously hamper their title challenge.

With 3 of the remaining 4 rounds being fought out on the black stuff, arguably asphalt expert Jason Pritchard may now be favourite for the title.  The cancellation of the Neath Valley Stages combined with Elliott’s lack of tarmac experience potentially swinging the pendulum away from the current RAC champions.

Pre dropped scores, it is David Stokes and Guy Weaver who now lead the championship chase and they cannot be ruled out.  Nor should Robinson, Barrett or Hill, although the Severn Valley Stages winner will need to approach the remaining events with caution having effectively already registered two non scores.  It is therefore with much anticipation that we look forward to round 5, The Harry Flatters Rally, on the undulating and unforgiving tarmac military roads of Epynt.  See you there in late July.

IMAGES

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All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)

WRGB 2014 – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

My penultimate event of the year was a big one; heading to the forests of Mid and North Wales for Wales Rally GB.  My 29th visit and 18th in a row to the annual World Rally Championship finale may have bore little resemblance to my first taste of the “RAC”; confined to a small part of Wales as opposed to traversing the length and breadth of the UK in years gone by but there was however a lot to like about this years event.

Day 1

Tempted by Maesnant, but not by the required extra early start, we headed instead to the infamous Sweet Lamb complex knowing that parking would be less of a problem.  In fact parking was no issue at all, with an arrival 2.5 hours before first car buying us a third row spot and ample time for a cuppa!

Up over the top and the fast tricky section towards the old mine was our first point of call; the downhill section heading down the mountainside the scene of one or two large offs in years gone by including none other than the late great Colin McRae.

By the time the cars reached us, 2014 champion, Sebastien Ogier had already opened up an 8.9 second lead over teammate Jari-Matti Latvala.   The Finn however managed to pull back a couple of precious seconds on the Hafren Sweet Lamb test suggesting this was by no means a foregone conclusion.  The third VW in the hands of Andreas Mikkelsen though was already out of contention having damaged the suspension of his car following an off in Dyfi.

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The wet conditions of the morning were replaced with a dry and sunny afternoon; the blue skies a positive shock to the system as the cars headed back out of Deeside for the afternoon loop of stages.  Continuing to avoid “The Bowl” we moved to the hillside above the main spectator area to a very fast open 90 right which did not disappoint ….

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Whilst the two VW’s continued to trade times and pull away up front, the battle behind was really hotting up.  Mads Ostberg had held third at lunch, but was caught and passed by the Ford of the outgoing Mikko Hirvonen and Citroen teammate Kris Meeke.  And by the end of the day there was just 20 seconds covering Hirvonen in third and the sixth place Hyundai of Thierry Neuville, with local man Elfyn Evans not far behind in seventh.

Lengthly queues heading out of Sweet Lamb meant canning plans for Deeside, replaced instead by a stop for chips in Welshpool and an early night in Dyfnant forest.

Day 2

After a surprisingly good nights sleep and a bacon sandwich we made the long trek from spectator car park N to junction 18 of Dyfnant; the fourth stage of the day.

As the fog started to clear it emerged that Latvala’s chances of victory were over having become stuck in a ditch in on the mornings first stage of day, Clocaenog East.  This eased the pressure on Ogier as he now had a more than comfortable lead of 1m 10 seconds over Hirvonen’s Fiesta.

In part due to the Frenchman’s relaxed pace, Super-Rally returnee Andreas Mikkelsen set out to prove a point as he went on to set fastest time on all 4 of the morning stages.  Not that it meant a great deal though as he was left languishing in 52nd place and ruing his first stage mistake!  Latvala’s demise had allowed home hero Kris Meeke to move up to third overall, the Northern Irishman now just a couple of seconds behind Hirvonen.

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Unfortunately we would only see the top fifteen cars at a competitive pace through Dyfnant 1 as a result of an injury to a volunteer Marshall.  I hope he/she is well on the road to recovery.

With the break in proceedings we decided to head back up the stage to watch the National rally at a tightening 90 left.  It was good to see a wide variety of cars in the event, including the glorious Stratos of Steve Perez, taking part as a warm up for the highlight of my season in just under 1 weeks time (The RAC), and the awesome Vauxhall Firenza in the hands of Jimmy McRae.  The event turning out to be an all Scottish Mitsubishi affair with the victory going the way of Mike Faulkner and Peter Foy.  The podium rounded off by the similar machines of Andrew Gallacher and Barry Groundwater.

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It seemed a much longer walk back to the car following the completion of the stage by the National Rally competitors.  In fact it was an absolute monster of a walk and only left us with an hour to sit down before heading to Junction 13 for the second running of Dyfnant, this time in complete darkness.  The spectator area at this open hairpin right was a little limiting for photographs but the spectacle was still a good one.

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Stage 13, Chirk Castle, had seen a surprise winner in Henning Solberg and the second running of Clocaenog East brought a cheer from the home support as Kris Meeke’s stage victory moved him up to second place overall.  This would not last long though as Hirvonen’s fastest stage time in Clocaenog Main reversed the positions with the order subsequently remaining the same throughout the remainder of the day.

Elfyn Evans had had a great day behind the wheel of his Fiesta and was now lying in 6th place, just 8 seconds behind the Hyundai of Thierry Neuville, himself just three seconds behind the second Citroen of Mads Ostberg.  This trio had however been unable to match the pace of the immense fight for second place and were now 40 seconds further back.  Meanwhile Ogier had not taken a single stage win all day as the double champ casually went about his business, leaving his VW teammates to each take a stage victory on the final 2 tests of the day.

A rather uninspiring trip to Deeside followed, but did at least provide dad the opportunity to purchase the obligatory over priced merchandise!

Day 3

The thought of a second night in the car was not an exciting prospect and although we ended up in a nice spot by the side of Llyn Brenig in car park R we did have the misfortune of being only 5 cars down from the inhabitants of a white van/motor home who were adamant on keeping everyone else awake!  The “music” still going on when our 5am alarm went of!

At 6am, not entirely sure of where we were on the map we decided to head across the road into Alwen through car park S to junction 7, have a look at 8 and 3, but eventually end up at the tight uphill hairpin of junction 6.  Knackered we awaited the first car.

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While Ostberg set fastest time on both the opening Brenig and Alwen tests, home heroes Meeke and Evans were both closing in on their rivals.  Mikkelsen’s up and down rally on the other hand came to an end on the morning loop of stages, the Norwegian failing to make it to the end of the Alwen test.

With a significant amount of tree growth since the last time we visited Alwen, it was not the spectacle we remembered and so there was no alternative but to head back across the road and dam into Brenig for the second loop of stages. While dad couldn’t go further than the dam without a sit down, I somehow managed to muster the energy to have a look at the twisty section above junction 14 before finally settling on a very muddy slight right just after 13.  And fortunately the action here was good …..

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Disappointingly Meeke’s exceptional drive was now starting to unravel, a mistake causing the Northern Irishman to lose 51 seconds in Alwen and a further 44 in Brenig, dropping him to 6th by the end of the rally.   A slight excursion had caused damage to two tyres, and with just the single spare there was no alternative but to nurse the car through the remaining tests.

On a more positive note, Welshman, Elfyn Evans was rewarded for a great effort on his home event with a phenomenal 5th overall, setting some great stage times along the way.  I really hope he keeps his drive for next year.

Latvala was clearly focused after lunch; following up his fastest time in Alwen with ‘Power Stage’ victory in Brenig; a nice way to finish off his championship year but disappointingly only finishing the rally in 8th place overall. The spectators were robbed of any real fight for victory following his off on Saturday morning, which left teammate Sebastien Ogier to literally cruise to victory by 37.6 seconds.

With the VW’s being in a class of their own, Mikko Hirvonen will have been absolutely delighted with 2nd place; a great way to end his WRC career.  And Mads Ostsberg’s battling performance to third place was enough, when combined with Meeke’s 6th position, to seal the runner up spot in the Manufacturers championship for Citroen.  While Thierry Neuville was the first Hyundai home in 4th position which represented yet another mighty impressive performance by the Belgian; surely a future champion.

Further back, Ott Tanak finished a credible 7th in his Ford, while Martin Prokop finished 9th in his privateer Fiesta.  Hayden Paddon brought his Hyundai i20 home in 10th, while the flambouyant Robert Kubica was 11th.  Jari Ketomaa put in a strong performance to take the WRC2 victory with 12th overall in his Fiesta R5 and was rewarded with the runner up spot in the WRC2 championship.

With the rain starting to come down a little more persistently we made the long walk back across the dam to the car and surprisingly the car parks had cleared pretty quickly, allowing for a relatively quick journey home and time for that much needed toilet stop!

The Good, the Bad and the damn right Ugly

I decided there is no better way to sum up the rally than to categorise my views into these three headings:

Good

  • £65 for three days of world level motorsport is very good value for money.
  • The fantastic Marshals were much friendlier and more relaxed than previous years allowing for easier access into the stages.
  • Genuine variety of machinery at the sharp end of the field.
  • Nice to see a proper night stage in Dyfnant 2.
  • Full stage maps provided to the spectators via the event program!
  • The parking in the joined up Alwen/Brenig stages worked incredibly well.

Bad

  • Many will disagree but I am still not sure the current specification of WRC car is as exciting/breathtaking to watch as previous generations.  They definitely lack the grunt of their elder siblings.
  • A winning time of just over 3 hours, with no stage longer than 24 kilometres?  Call me old fashioned but a world rally championship event should be more about endurance than a sprint.
  • Parking in Dyfnant was a shambles.

Ugly

  • Sleeping in the car!  After what must be 20 previous occasions of doing so I will categorically never do it again.  There comes a time when a man just needs a good nights sleep and a clean toilet!
  • The amount of litter left around by some of the absolute scumbags that the WRC attracts.  The picture below is what was left by the very same people who kept us awake all night in the Llyn Brenig car park!

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Whilst this was an enjoyable three days in Wales it was by no means the best Rally GB.  There is a chance that the memory of Jari Matti Latvala winning the Power Stage whilst also collecting his Christmas tree will remain long in the memory ….

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But it does not compare to seeing McRae destroy all opposition and stage furniture in Dyfi forest in 1997, the iconic images of the same man throwing battered Ford’s through the British forests in the late 80’s and early 90’s or indeed the absolute delight at seeing my sporting hero take the 1995 championship crown.  I am praying that one day our great sport will again reach these incredible heights but for now I am happy in the knowledge that in a health and safety mad world it at least appears to be heading in the right direction.

For digital images, professional prints or any other requirements please email me at paul.commons@yahoo.co.uk.

All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)