Motorsport UK Pirelli Ravenol Welsh Rally Championship 

Two wins out of two for Hirst as he extends his MSUK Pirelli Ravenol Welsh Rally Championship lead after Rallynuts Stages victory 


Matthew Hirst, picturerd, has increased his lead at the top of the 2022 Motorsport UK Pirelli Ravenol Welsh Rally Championship drivers' standings after winning the Rallynuts Stages Rally.
 
Co-driven by Declan Dear in his Pirelli-shod Delta Salvage Ford Fiesta R5+, Hirst was an incredible 24 seconds faster than his nearest championship rival over the opening 10.71-mile Myherin stage. By the time he'd reached the midday service halt at the Royal Welsh Showground in Llanelwedd after the morning loop of three stages, he had increased his advantage to 34 seconds.
 
Two more fastest stage times in the afternoon (making it four out of six in total) gave Hirst the rally win and maximum Welsh Championship points by over a minute. 
 
There is no question that Hirst has gelled with his new Fiesta R5+ magnificently well - and whilst it looked a comfortable win, he was fortunate to notice a puncture just in time to allow him to replace it before starting the final stage, while he arrived at the final control with an oil leak.
 
"It couldn't have gone any better. It's been another great event for us and a great start to the season," said Hirst.
 
"We rebuilt the suspension on the car since the opening round [WKD Trained Dogs Rally North Wales] and it made a big difference right from the word go today. We had a good first stage, but I was surprised at the time and to be leading by such a margin. 
 
"I really must thank the entire team for all the work they have done to enable us to make such a good start to the Pirelli Ravenol Welsh Rally Championship. It means everything when you get a result like this."
 

Dylan Davies, pictured, once again kept Hirst on his toes and for a second time this year finished second to maintain his second place in the overall Welsh points table. The Llanon driver struggled to find grip on the morning loop of stages, which were a little icy in places after a wintry night. Conditions were dryer and faster in the afternoon, but by then the damage had been done and the former Welsh champion and co-driver Mark Glennerster couldn't recover the earlier time lost in their Å koda Fabia R5+. 

 

 

Perry Gardener, pictured, said that he'd loved every minute of the Midland Manor Motor Club organised event as he completed the Pirelli Ravenol Welsh Rally Championship podium will an excellent third in his Ford Fiesta R5+. Overheating brakes cost the Ludlow driver and co-driver Jack Bowen time on the opening two stages, but their confidence was restored in the afternoon as they finished the event by setting the fastest time on the final 4.73-mile Cwmysgawen stage.
 


Russ Thompson,pictured, also got his Welsh title challenge off to a great start with a fourth-placed points finish in his Dunnow Plant-backed Mitsubishi Evo 9. Co-driven by Stephen Link, the 2019 Welsh Championship runner-up was back to his best and was never outside the top six fastest stage times all event.
 
The brakes on Tom Llewellin's Brace's Bakery Mitsubishi Mirage weren't biting over the morning loop of stages, meaning that the car wasn't pitching and not cornering properly. Replacing the glazed pads and discs at midday service solved the problem and he and Ross Whittock flew in the afternoon. Third equal fastest time on the final stage saw them collect fifth-placed Welsh points.
 
James Giddings enjoyed a wonderful debut in his new Group N Fordpad Mitsubishi Evo 9. Co-driven by Aled Davies, the former Fiesta ST Trophy and Citroën C2 Challenge champion started strongly and then set top 10 times on each of the afternoon stages to finish ninth overall and take home sixth place Welsh points.
 
Bob Morgan continued his great start to the year with another fine drive in his Winner Garage Å koda Fabia R5+. He and co-driver Ade Williams caught and passed a car on SS1, caught and got stuck behind a car on SS2 and flew through all the other stages to collect eighth place Welsh points - which moves him up to fourth in the overall drivers' standings and into the lead of the Ravenol Welsh Challenge.
 
Benj Ceen hit his target of scoring another Welsh Championship top 10 result in only his second rally in his Ford Fiesta R5 and his first with co-driver Caron Tomlinson. After two very strong results the former Peugeot 106 Cup driver is sixth in the overall drivers' standings and third in the Ravenol Welsh Challenge.
 
Bob Ceen has slipped from fourth in the overall drivers' standings to ninth after his Coedwigaeth Pencelyn-backed Ford Fiesta R5+ lost turbo boost halfway through the opening stage. It was impossible for the former Welsh champion and co-driver Shaun Layland to regain all the morning's time lost, but they still salvaged a points-scoring finish. Richard Ceen/Alun Hayward also had a nightmare on SS1 when they lost over three minutes when their Ford Focus WRC05's engine stalled at the first hairpin and refused to restart. Launch controls issues later didn't help either, although they did extremely well to reach the finish.
 


John Caine, pictured, enjoyed another great run in his Subaru Impreza. Co-driven by Andrew Sankey, the Phil Price Rally School owner can certainly practice what he teaches as he moves into the top 10 in the overall drivers' points table and second in the Ravenol Welsh Challenge.
 
In just his second gravel rally in his Hyundai Power Products-backed Hyundai i20 R5, Roland Llewellin enjoyed a good run - guided successfully by Jamie Edwards on their first gravel rally together for seven years.
 
Paul Walker/Dan Nieroda had another fine outing in their Green Paw Subaru Impreza, as did Wug Utting/Bob Stokoe in their Subaru Impreza N12b, although Lewers Firth/Shaun Lapper retired their Firth Construction Subaru Impreza on the opening stage.
 
Simon Rogers had a catalogue of issues on the opening loop, including a gear linkage problem that stranded his Mitsubishi Evo 6 in third gear on the opening stage, a right rear puncture on SS2 and the wipers smearing the windscreen on SS3. He was relieved to reach midday service, where most of the problems were sorted. It allowed him and co-driver James How to enjoy a much better afternoon, albeit without a dashboard display, leaving them guessing what gear they were in.
 
Dave Tomlin/Keith Ashley were going well but beached their Axon Ford Fiesta R5 on the outside of a corner on SS5, where they remained until a rescue vehicle arrived.
 
Ashley Davies/Sam Fordham, pictured below,  have taken the lead in the Welsh 2WD class after a fast and trouble-free run in their Burton Power/G&B Finch/Deranged Trucks Ford Escort RS.
 


Boyd Kershaw/Keegan Rees couldn't reproduce the form at took them to 2WD class victory last time. After a mixed day that included brake bias issues with their Flying Kiwi Escort Mk2, they picked up what could still prove to be very important points but have slipped to second in the table. 
 
Kevin Metcalfe (co-driven by Ian Jones) maintains his 2WD class challenge after another good points-scoring finish in his 3-litre BMW E30, as do Andrew Fox/Jaime-Lee Fox despite destroying the rear tyres on SS4 and having to nurse their Xwatch Safety Solutions BMW 325 over the remaining two stages.
 
Michael Sawyer lost time when he mistakenly turned the fuel pump switch off at the start line of SS1, but after that he and Gareth Price enjoyed a good run in their 2350cc Datsun 1600.
 
Tim Phelps/Elwyn Manuel also had a good run in their Britpart Ford Escort Mk2, while Geoff Phelps/Colin Jenkins retired their Hartpury Farms Escort with a broken differential on SS3. David Crossen/Aileen Kelly also failed to complete the opening loop in their Escort Mk2.
 
There was yet another magnificent battle for points in the Restruct Welsh Historic classes, with crews also fighting for a place on the end of season David Stokes Historic Challenge for drivers and the Guy Weaver Award for co-drivers' awards list.
 
Matt Edwards/Hamish Campbell, pictured below, made it two wins out of two in the highly competitive Historic W8 class. They got off to a shaky start with some untested brake discs causing the front wheels to lock up - something that Edwards only discovered when he hit the brakes for the first corner of SS1! Having cured the problem in service, the Colwyn Bay driver absolutely flew over the afternoon stages to not only win the class but also finish 12th overall on the event and seventh in the overall Welsh Championship in their Pirelli-shod RSD-prepared Fiat Abarth 131. Edwards is also an incredible fourth in the overall drivers' standings after two rounds!
 


Nick Elliott finished second, 40 seconds behind Edwards, on his first event in a Fiat Abarth 131 since the 2018 Trackrod Rally. It was a bit of a learning curve and once he'd stopped trying to drive the car like his more familiar Escort Mk2, he and co-driver Peredur Davies set some impressive times in the afternoon.

 

Meirion Evans kick-started his Historic class W8 title challenge when he and co-driver Gwynfor Jones collected third-place points in their Wales Motorsport Escort Mk2, beating stablemates Roger Chilman/Paul Morris in their Securcom Escort Mk2 - the Hereford driver maintaining third place in the W8 points table after pushing hard after midday service.

 

 
Robert Gough/Aled Edwards finished fifth in class in their Escort RS1600 Mk2, while Michael McDaid/Declan Casey admitted to feeling rusty on their first forestry rally of 2022 but picked up sixth in class after a solid run in their McDaid Pharmacy Escort RS1800 Mk2.
 
Ben Friend/Cliffy Simmons had a great morning, but their afternoon was ruined by a cracked distributor cap which left their Allglass Escort Mk2 on three cylinders, dropping them down the order. 
 
Will Onions/Dave Williams rolled their Capital Motorsport Escort Mk2 in front of the Sideways Media camera crew on SS2, but with only light damage and minimal time loss they continued to finish eighth in class, one place ahead of Rudi Lancaster/Guy Weaver in their Woolacombe Holiday Parks Escort RS1800.
 
Defending Historic class W8 champions Paul Street/Ian Jones maintain their title challenge after a solid run in their PJS Marine Escort RS1800 Mk2, as do Pete Littler/Andy Marchbank in their RED Preparation & Fabrication/Select Security Ford Escort RS1800 Mk2.
 
Alan Walker/John Connor had a great run in their JWC Financial Solutions
Ford Escort RS1800, despite the driver starting the event with a sprained ankle.

 
The first Escort Mk1 home was the Dave Jenkins Motorsport-built Brace's Bakery Escort RS1600 of Jonathan Brace/Paul Spooner. They won their class on the event by 43 seconds (different from the Historic class W8) and are now eighth in the Welsh class standings.
 
Andrew Stokes is one place behind in ninth. Co-driven by Jonny Tad Evans, he had another strong run in his Escort Mk1, while David Kirby/Martin Corbett recorded their first finish of the year, despite bending their Avenue Taxis Escort RS1600 Mk1's steering on the opening stage.
 
Stephen Ward/Philip Sandham (Escort Mk2) and Ron Morgan/Marc Clatworthy (Wales Motorsport-prepared Restruct Escort Mk2) had a good battle, the pair separated by just three seconds at the end of the event, while Philip Clarke/Richard Bonner (Escort Mk2) also picked up his second batch of good Welsh points after a strong run.
 
Neal James has taken the Historic class W7 lead after the Ammanford driver (co-driven by Kevin Jones) had a good run in his Escort Mk2. He was beaten to maximum points by David Roberts/Gerallt Davies, who bounced back from electrical problems on Rally North Wales to win the class in their Cwm Engineering Ford Escort Mk2. 
 
Having fixed the head gasket issue which stopped them on Rally North Wales, Peter Hinton/Lewis Sim survived rear suspension problems and a puncture in the morning, only to retire their Escort Mk2 on the first stage in the afternoon.

 

Chris Squires/Shaun Hughes have moved into the joint lead of the Historic W6 class after scoring maximum class points on their first ever gravel rally. The starter motor packed up as they arrived at midday service, but their Trevor Morris Engines Ford Escort Mk2 was repaired and they never put a foot wrong on the repeat loop of stages. They are tied on points with Julian Birley/Emyr Hall (Talbot Sunbeam Ti 1600) who didn't start the Rallynuts, but who will return on the Plains Rally.

 

 
Rob Wilson won the OnThePaceNote.co.uk supported Welsh Junior category on their first event in their Ravenol Mitsubishi Evo 7. Co-driven by Richard Crozier, the Herefordshire youngster was seeded at number 51 and finished a very impressive 15th overall on his first rally in a four-wheel drive car.
 
Liam Griffiths/William Lewis had to settle for second after the ABS sensor on their Discover Parks Ford Fiesta ST limited the car's speed to 50mph on all the afternoon loop of stages. They still lead the Welsh Junior points table, however. 
 
Unfortunately, Liam's brother Callum (co-driven by Daniel James) broke a driveshaft on his Presteigne Tyre Services Ford Fiesta ST on SS1 - and his event came to an end when the other driveshaft snapped on SS2. 
 
James Lepley (co-driven by Arwel Jenkins) picked up valuable Welsh Junior points, despite gearbox issues in his Escort Mk2. It was gearbox problems that forced Gethin Price/Matthew Baddeley to retire their Keith Price Haulage Nissan Micra on SS2.
 
Price continues to lead class W3, although Adrian and Matthew Walk have closed the gap after taking maximum points in their PartBOX Ford Ka, despite a loose damper on SS1. Ross Clements/Christopher Lear finished second in an MG ZR, a car which used to be Gwyndaf Evans' recce vehicle!
 
Matthew Jackson/Sasha Heriot made it two class W4 wins out of two in their Ford Fiesta R2T. Jonathan Jones is eight points behind after he and co-driver Jez Rogers lost time with overheating brakes on SS1 and a tyre coming off a rim on SS4. They finished third in class on the day to maintain their hold on second in the points table in their EDSL Sport-run Ingospec Ford Fiesta.
 
Having retired with electrical problems on Rally North Wales, Tony Simpson/Ian Bevan split Jackson and Jones by finishing second in class in their Seacon UK/Kielder Tools Ford Fiesta R2T, which puts them third in the standings.
 
Eight points behind is Yaniv Bar, who finished fourth in class - which was a great result, considering intercom problems meant that he couldn't hear co-driver Osian Owen through the morning loop of stages in his Ptravel Club Ford Fiesta R2.
 
Graham Thatcher/Tim Samuel still lead the Road Rally class despite several spins in their Pembridge Vehicle Management Peugeot 206 GTi, two of which happened on exactly the same corner in Myherin in the morning and the afternoon!
 
Brynli Thomas/Steve Griffiths took full advantage of their rival's time loss to score maximum class points and move into second, just two points behind, in their Peugeot 306 Rallye. The Peugeot Sport-built car has an interesting history and has twice contested Rally Argentina.

 
Martin Walters/Marie Fletcher have taken the lead of class W10 and are getting more acquainted to the high-revving characteristics of their rebuilt Honda Civic. They have a 22-point advantage after defending class champions Dan Jones/Cyril Jones retired their Jones Brothers/Bradley Motorsport Vauxhall Nova with a broken driveshaft. Alan Desbois/Peter Littlefield (Peugeot 306 RWD) and Michael Jenkins/Scott Dance (Peugeot 205) also failed to reach the finish.
 
Action streamed live from the Rallynuts Stages Rally is available to view at facebook.com/WELSHRALLYCHAMPIONSHIP, with commentary from the Royal Television Society award-winning Howard Davies.
 
Round 3 of the 2022 Motorsport UK Pirelli Ravenol Welsh Rally Championship is the Bala-based Plains Rally on Saturday 21 May, with stages in the Aberhirnant, Llangower, Alwen and Clocaenog forests
 
Further details on the 2022 Motorsport UK Pirelli Ravenol Welsh Rally Championship, together with registration information, can be found online at: wnrc.wamc.org.uk
 
Rallynuts Stages Rally - top 10 Motorsport UK Pirelli Ravenol Welsh Rally Championship finishers
1. Matthew Hirst/Declan Dear (Ford Fiesta R5+).......42mins 41secs
2. Dylan Davies/Mark Glennerster (Å koda Fabia R5+).......43mins 48secs
3. Perry Gardener/Jack Bowen (Ford Fiesta R5+).......43mins 54secs
4. Russ Thompson/Stephen Link (Mitsubishi Evo 9).......44mins 26secs
5. Tom Llewellin/Ross Whittock (Mitsubishi Mirage).......44mins 42secs
6. James Giddings/Aled Davies (Mitsubishi Evo 9).......45mins 51secs
7. Matt Edwards/Hamish Campbell (Fiat Abarth 131).......46mins 32secs
8. Bob Morgan/Ade Williams (Å koda Fabia R5+).......46mins 50secs
9. Rob Wilson/Richard Crozier (Mitsubishi Evo 7).......46mins 55secs
10. Benj Ceen/Caron Tomlinson (Ford Fiesta R5).......47mins 01secs
 
2022 Motorsport UK Pirelli Ravenol Welsh Rally Championship
Overall drivers' points after Round 2
1. Matthew Hirst.......60pts
2. Dylan Davies.......54pts
3. Tom Llewellin.......48pts
4. Matt Edwards.......44pts
5. Bob Morgan.......41pts
6. John Caine.......39pts
 

For more information please contact: 
Dave Evison
Secretary, Motorsport UK Pirelli Ravenol Welsh Rally Championship 
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Paul Evans
Press Officer, Motorsport UK Pirelli Ravenol Welsh Rally Championship 
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Pictures courtesy of Paul Mitchell. Please credit 'Paul Mitchell Photography' if used.
paulmitchellphotography@gmail.com