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.