JD Tyres Welsh Tarmacadam Championship – Round 9
After the challenges of closed road rallying on the previous round, Rali Ceredigion, contestants in the Championship made their way North for the penultimate round of the 2023 series, the Harlech Stages at LLanbder Airfield.
On only their second Championship run this year, Robert Tout/Terry Martin made a welcome return in their Ford Fiesta R5 and showed no signs of rustiness as they posted the fourth fastest time on the first of the five special stages. They followed this up with third fastest time on SS2 moving up to third overall as a result, before finishing with a flourish, setting second fastest time on the final two stages to finish the day in second place overall and taking maximum Championship points.
With four stages completed, Chris Simmons was Tout’s nearest challenger, holding fourth position in his Darrian T90 GTR, only to complete an additional lap of the following stage in error, dropping him to 11th place at the finish.
A couple of Darrian crews having more luck were Richard Merriman/Kath Curzon and Russell Davies/Richard Suter who were the leading two crews in the up to 2 litre class. At the end of the day, the pair took the top two class positions with Merriman finishing in fifth overall whilst Davies went well on the later stages to move up from eighth place overall to sixth position at the finish.
Another crew returning to the Championship on their first round for some time were Chris Berry/Merfyn Williams, who finished in a fine tenth position in their Ford Escort.
Leighton Smith/Karen Phelps took another Championship class win, finishing in fourteenth place in their Peugeot 205 GTi, two positions ahead of Christian Howells/Dan Evans who had enjoyed the slippery early conditions as they took a class win in their Vauxhall Nova.
Co-driving for Tom Evans in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 on this occasion, Fiona Crump did her Championship hopes a power of good, as their third in class finish sees her move level with Lucie Gutteridge to hold joint first place in the Co-drivers section. On the Harlech, Lucie accompanied Andrew Owen, the pair finishing third in class in their Vauxhall Nova. Finishing just behind in the class was Sam Weller, who was co-driving Mark Walker in a Citroen C2R2 Max.
Jonathan Davies/Dylan Davies were next home in their Peugeot 206 GTi 180, as Kevin Davies/Sion Rowlands rounded off the Welsh finishers in their Peugeot 207, as former Champions Neil Jones/Alan Thomas retired their Vauxhall Astra.
JD Tyres Welsh Tarmacadam Championship – Round 8
The eighth round of the J D Tyres Welsh Tarmacadam Championship provided contestants with arguably their toughest challenge to date this year as they attempted the Rali Ceredigion. Based in Aberystwyth, the crews faced fourteen special stages on closed roads in the surrounding area spread over two days, which included two evening stages along Aberystwyth promenade.
With Championship leader Chris Simmons absent once again, Mark Kelly took maximum drivers points for the second time, on only his second outing in the series this year. Up against some of the top tarmac drivers in the UK, Kelly ended the event inside the top ten in his Skoda Fabia R5.
Thoroughly enjoying the event, Mathew Curzon was full of praise for the organisers and marshals who had put on “an amazing rally with incredible stages.” With his Ford Escort Mk 2 working well, Curzon took his best points finish of the year as he finished second in his class on the event.
Finishing just twenty seconds behind Curzon were Jonathan Davies/Sion Rowlands whose Peugeot 207 was slowed with alternator problems on the first day. With the faulty component replaced overnight, day two was problem free and resulted in Rowlands taking maximum co-driver points.
Meanwhile, the other Jonathan Davies, competing with Dylan Davies alongside was next of the finishers following a good run in their Peugeot 206.
It would be a long night for brothers Chris and Mark Jones after the first day of rallying, as the brothers both had clutch issues on their respective Gilberns. The pair worked through the night to repair their respective Invader and Genie, before finishing the event as fifth and seventh drivers in the J D Tyres series, winning the Spirit of the Rally award for their efforts.
Splitting the two Gilbern drivers were Paul Jenkins/Lucie Gutteridge who had a few encounters with sheep on the roads on the first day. The second day started well, and the pair were set for a good finish before a disastrous last stage when the throttle cable snapped on their Ford Escort Mk 2. As a result, Jenkins was forced to make a temporary repair to get the car through the stage before replacing the item. Despite this, Lucie continues to lead the co-driver’s section.
Competing with John Bray for the first time, Fiona Crump closed the gap to Lucy in the co-driver’s section, taking second points in the category after a good run in Bray’s Lotus Elise, the pair overcoming an early spin on day one.
Not surprisingly given the challenging nature of the event a number of the Welsh Tarmacadam Championship crews failed to make the finish. Mike Pugsley’s Ford Escort RS 2000 Mk 1 suffered with points issues, Keith Daniels overcame early clutch issues before retiring his Vauxhall Corsa later in the first day with engine failure, whilst Sean Jones’ Vauxhall Astra GTE succumbed to clutch issues.
Unfortunately, Wayne Jones/Rhys Jones retired after putting their Darrian T90 GTR into a fence, whilst co-driver Dylan Thomas thought the event had been one of the best he had competed on, but he didn’t finish after the car he was in also left the road.
JD Tyres Welsh Tarmacadam Championship – Round 7
Just a month after the previous round, contestants in the J D Tyres Welsh Tarmacadam returned to Epynt for round 7, The Mewla Rally.
With Championship leader Chris Simmons not competing on the event, Ian Godney seized the opportunity to close the gap at the head of the series. Driving his Suzuki Swift, Godney settled down after a couple of spins early on, and despite late engine concerns he ended the day winning his class and as first contender to finish. As a result, he moves up to second in the Championship.
Finishing one place behind Godney, was Fiona Crump, who was co-driving for Jersey driver Jez Baudains who finished in the top ten on Epynt for the first time in his Ford Escort. Following her maximum points haul, Crump maintains the second placed position in the Co-drivers section, narrowing the gap to leader Lucie Gutteridge.
On this occasion, Lucie was accompanying Clive Thomas in a Mini Cooper, and with the driver getting used to using slick tyres on the car for the first time, she took maximum points in the 1600cc class.
With their Peugeot 205 GTi running perfectly all day, Leighton Smith/Karen Phelps took their fourth class win of the year to maintain their dominance of this category, as Phelps maintains a top three placing in the co-driver’s category.
Third of the drivers to finish was Jonathan Davies who, partnered by Sion Rowlands enjoyed a good run in their Peugeot 207 and maintains his Championship class lead. They finished one place ahead of class rivals Christian Howells/Dan Evans in a Vauxhall Nova, who had a good run, with Andrew Owen finishing third in this class in another Nova.
Making a return to the Championship was Sam Weller who accompanied Ian Taylor in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, and following a good run took second place in the co-driver’s section.
For once, the Darrian drivers, who are normally at the head of the leading contenders, weren’t the ones to beat, with Wayne Jones/Rhys Jones retiring their Darrian T90 GTR near the chicane at the Quarry on stage two, with Richard Merriman/Kath Curzon retiring their T90 nearby. Also having a short run was Terry Martin, who was co-driving for Phil Turner, whose Ford Escort suffered engine problems on the second loop of stages.
Sadly the alternative plan for the Patriot Stages in 2023 hasn't been possible so therefore it will not take place.
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