The 2016 Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship got off to the most exciting start possible as Rhuddlan’s Luke Francis and co-driver John H Roberts took outright victory on the Cambrian Rally by the narrowest possible margin.
2015 was a bumper year for Wales’s premier rally series and registrations are at an even higher level at this early stage of the season with over 40 championship contenders lining up at the Llandudno start.
The opening stage of the 8 stage event saw Yorkshireman Charlie Payne, co-driven by Carl Williamson take an early lead in their Ford Fiesta ahead of Scotland’s Euan Thorburn and Paul Beaton in their Peugeot 208. With former Welsh champion Connor McCloskey, co-driven by Damien Duffin holding third place in their Mini Cooper S, Francis and Roberts lay fourth, 12 seconds off the lead.
Francis quickly responded, however, moving up to the third at after stage 2 and taking the lead at the end of stage four. Payne struck back, regaining the advantage but after eight stages and 45 competitive miles it was Francis who took the victory by a single second.
Second place among the championship contenders went to Mancunian Steve Simpson, while third was Thirsk’s Peter Stephenson. With Karl Simmons from Southwell finishing in fourth place, his co-driver Mark Glennister finishing second among the registered contenders, top honours in the Group N category went to Worcester duo Paul Davy and Roger Allen ahead of Roland Llewellin of Haverfordwest.
Less fortunate was Shaun Gardener, making a welcome return to the ranks of the championship contenders. He and co-driver Ben Innes were forced to retire their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo with turbo failure on the second stage. Also forced out of the event, but on the penultimate stage, were last year’s championship runners up Dylan Davies of Llanon and Caernarfon’s Llion Williams who had reported problems with the steering on their Subaru Impreza earlier in the day
Victory in the two wheel drive category went to the Ford Escort of John Rowlands from Ffestiniog and his co-driver, Machynlleth man Glen Latham who finished 16 seconds ahead of another Escort driven by Gavin Edwards from Caernarfon and co-driven by Penmachno’s Caron Tomlinson.
In the junior category for competitors under 25, top honours among the drivers went to Pwllheli’s Andrew Jones as he finished ahead of Derry driver Jordan Hone while among the co-drivers, Chris Davies took maximum points ahead of Ludlow’s Keaton Williams.
Ludlow driver Dave Brick took the joint lead in the Ravenol Welsh Challenge which carries an end of season prize fund provided by the hi-tech lubricant supplier and valued at £3000. The challenge is determined by the driver’s performance within their class and currently sharing that lead are John Rowlands and Luke Francis.
TV coverage of the championship opener, produced by the Special Stage team, is scheduled to appear on Motors TV on March 2nd while the next round is the Mid Wales Stages based in Newtown which takes place on March 6th. You can find out more about that event on their website, http://www.midwalesstages.co.uk, and about the championship on www.wnrc.wamc.org.uk, on the Championship Facebook page and on Twitter @WnRC.
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Issued 16th February 2016
The 2016 Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship gets underway this weekend with the Llandudno based Cambrian Rally. Last year was a bumper one for the championship with strong entries and close, exciting battles throughout the season. Early indications are that 2016 should match, if not exceed it.
With reigning champion Bob Ceen stepping back from the sport for the time being, 2015 runner up Dylan Davies, from Lampeter and co-driver Llion Williams of Caernarfon will be keen to lay down an early marker in their Subaru Impreza as they get their 2016 campaign underway. They can expect a strong challenge. However, from Abergele’s Luke Francis partnered once again by John H Roberts from Colwyn Bay who finished third in the Championship last year in the Bob Francis Crane Hire Mitsubishi Evo IX. They took maximum championship points on this event last year.
Worcestershire duo Paul Davy and Roger Allan in their Subaru Impreza will be out to defend their Group N title for less modified cars but they will be looking forward to a resumption of their season long battle with Haverfordwest’s Roland Llewellin, the Genpower Mitsubishi co-driven on this event by Mark Perryman.
Hugh Hunter only appeared on four rounds of the championship last year but took top Championship honours on two of those events so the Ruthin driver, co-driven by Cheshire’s Andy Marchbank should be well in the mix this weekend.
Others to look out for include Peter Stephenson in the Ford Focus, the Mitsubishi Evos of Shaun Gardener and Simon Rogers, both from Shropshire and the relatively rare Evo X of West Country pairing Martyn and Dawn England.
Having won last year’s junior title for drivers, Morgan Handford, from Pencoed is ineligible for that award this season but can look to defend his Class 3 title in his Volkswagen Polo. Meanwhile reigning champion junior co-driver Caron Tomlinson will be in action in the Mark II Escort of Gavin Edwards.
Runner up in last year’s junior driver battle Meirion Evans meanwhile will be in action in his Fiesta R2T while third placed Thomas Bayliss, from Newtown, returns in his Nissan Micra. Watch out too for the Proton Satria of Jordan Hone. The Derry driver finished fourth in the junior battle last year.
As well as welcoming back Pirelli as title sponsors, the Championship plays host for a second year to the RAVENOL Welsh Challenge, won last year by Dylan Davies. The Challenge sees points awarded throughout the season to championship contenders based on performance within classes and has an end of season prize fund worth £3000 provided by the high performance lubricant manufacturers.
This year also sees fuel and motorsport apparel suppliers Vital Equipment sponsoring the Junior Championship. As well as providing a prize fund, the Pontrilas based company are also working closely with the Championship organisers to develop other initiatives, including a training day for the younger drivers.
Meanwhile, the Pirelli Welsh Hyundai Genpower awards will see vouchers worth a further £3000 handed out to competitors from across the championship classes which can be used to purchase a Hyundai generator or power washer.
The first car on the event will leave Llandudno Promenade at 08:01 on Saturday morning and is due to return at 15:28. You can find out details of spectator points and how to spectate safely on the event website, www.cambrianrally.co.uk, and about the championship on www.wnrc.wamc.org.uk, on the Championship Facebook page and on Twitter @WnRC.
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Issued 8th February 2016
Note to Editors: The attached photograph should be credited to Rallysportmedia.com
Issued by Peter Hughes Media on behalf of the Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship
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A leading Welsh company has added its support to the Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship. Pembroke Dock based Genpower are multi-brand distributors of generators, pressure washers, water pumps, air compressors and garden machinery.
In a sponsorship package valued at £3000 Genpower will give vouchers against the purchase of any of the Hyundai equipment for which they are distributors to the top 3 in a different class on each of the first seven rounds of the championship while on the final round of the championship, every class winner will receive a voucher.
Company Managing Director Roland Llewellin is a regular championship contender himself and took the Group N runner up spot and a class win in the 2015 championship driving a Mitsubishi Evo IX. Confirming his company’s support for the 2016 championship, Roland said, “We are very pleased to be involved with the Pirelli Welsh National Forest Championship again. This series is made up of some of the best events in the UK and this year we have a prize voucher scheme that covers all classes.”
Welcoming the sponsorship, championship co-ordinator Dave Evison commented, “It’s great to have this support, especially coming as it does from a leading Welsh company. As the country’s premier rally championship we are keen to establish links with as many Welsh companies as we can to promote not only Wales but also its businesses.”
The opening round of the Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship is the Cambrian Rally. The Llandudno based event takes place on February 13th.
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Issued 2nd February 2016
Issued by Peter Hughes Media on behalf of Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship
January 26th: The Championship Regulations and Registration form are now live for 2016. They can be found by clicking on the "Documents" Tab.