Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship 



Matthew Hirst/Declan Dear put in another stunning performance in their Delta Salvage/Witham Motorsport Ford Fiesta R5 to score maximum Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship points on the Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages (Saturday 13 April).


Such was the pace of the defending champions that they would have finished sixth overall in the British Rally Championship section, despite having to alter their driving style to overcome an engine misfire during the long afternoon loop of stages.


The Doncaster driver's performance was all the more impressive given the challenging and constantly changing conditions - which featured heavy rain, a very wet and slippery surface, thick low clouds and even a bit of sunshine and dry patches at times. And sometimes a bit of everything in the same stage!


"The morning loop went well and we had a good push in the fog - that was really challenging, but we've done a lot of work on our pace notes and that paid dividends," said Hirst.


"We had to nurse a bit of a misfire in the afternoon, which was a bit distracting at times. When we left the start line of stage five I thought it was all over, but we managed to overcome the issue by driving a bit differently. It wasn't ideal, but the result doesn't show that. We had a cracking day and enjoyed the stages - it's just been a bit stressful.


"We had a good overall result too. There are some very quick drivers in the BRC and against the likes of Osian Pryce, Chris Ingram, William Creighton and Keith Cronin we didn't embarrass ourselves and showed that the pace in the Pirelli Welsh Championship is very strong."


Former Pirelli Welsh Junior, Challenge and class W13 champion Rob Wilson had another fantastic run in his Mitsubishi Evo 7. Co-driven by Martin Haggett, the Herefordshire youngster pushed hard in the fog in the morning and another big push on the final stage saw him seal a second-place Pirelli Welsh result, finishing 1min 35secs behind Hirst/Dear.


Russ Thompson held second until a costly spin on SS5 saw him lose a place and drop 9.1 seconds behind Wilson. Together with Stephen Link, the Dunnow Plant Mitsubishi Evo 9 driver launched a big push on the final stage but had to stop to make sure the crew of the crashed car running ahead of them were okay. It wouldn't have made any difference, as Wilson's counterattack would have confirmed the podium positions anyway and Thompson was nonetheless pleased with third-place on his return to the series.


James Giddings followed up his third-place finish on the opening Get Jerky Rally North Wales round with fourth this time in his Fordpad/Enva/Sar Metals Mitsubishi Evo 9. Early understeer didn't help, it was his first experience of rallying in fog too, while a spin at a hairpin in Hafren in the afternoon didn't cost too much time. Ably guided by Aled Davies, it was another fine performance by the Carmarthen driver which sees him move up to second in the overall standings.


Experience is key in such tricky conditions, and that certainly paid dividends for Wug Utting/Bob Stokoe, who took home fifth-placed Pirelli Welsh points in their Geoff Jones Motorsport-prepared Subaru Impreza N12b. Having used part-worn tyres in the morning, some fresh rubber was deployed for the afternoon - which was an inspired choice given the trickier polished conditions.


Peter Baylis couldn't quite believe the overheating issues with his Artificial Lawn Company Mitsubishi Evo 9 had returned, meaning that he had to turn the anti-lag system off on the longer stages. Co-driven by Paul Godden, the Gravesend driver managed the situation extremely well and scored an impressive eighth-placed Pirelli Welsh points finish, although the problem cost him at least one if not several places.


David Tomlin's event began with a spin on SS1 and a bit of caution in the fog. Co-driven by Ian Beamond, the Worcester driver enjoyed another good run in his Axon Ford Fiesta R5 to take home ninth-placed points.


Having broken a driveshaft on Rally North Wales, Colin Griffiths/Marc Morgan recorded their first Pirelli Welsh finish of the season in their Jamtech Motorsport-prepared Subaru Impreza STi, despite a time-consuming problem on the penultimate stage.


Several of the drivers expecting to challenge for maximum Pirelli Welsh points failed to finish the event.


Dan O'Brien/Mark Glennerster retired their O'Brien Group Ford Fiesta RS WRC with turbo failure on the opening stage, Perry Gardener/Jack Bowen had brake failure in their TNT AGRI Fiesta R5 and called it a day after SS3, Simon Rogers/Ade Williams had started well but retired their MacWhirter Motorsport Mitsubishi Evo 6 with transmission failure on SS4 and Steve Hollis/Tim Currie didn't complete the morning loop in their Volkswagen Golf V R32 either. 


Daniel Moss/Sammy Allen arrived too late into midday service in their Hurst Haylage Mitsubishi Evo 10 and went OTL, Rob and Ashley Aslett retired their Rigfone Electric Contractors Subaru Impreza with transmission problems on SS3, Geoff Cottrill/Nathan Crewe had gearbox issues in their Mitsubishi Evo 9 on SS3 and stopped before it failed completely, and the smart Plant Speed Subaru Impreza STi driven by Paul Lomas/Mark Leader caught fire on SS6.


Colin Minton didn't have an engine in his Tutts Clump Fiesta R5 two days before the event, but Ignition Motorsport did a great job to make sure he was able to make the start. Unfortunately, he and co-driver Tim Green had rear diff problems on SS1, a sticking throttle on SS4 and no handbrake and eventually went OTL.


And poor Martyn Andrews/Steve Greenhill didn't start the event. The 2023 Welsh Challenge champions had remapped their Opie Oils Subaru Impreza engine's ECU, but discovered a turbo installation problem that was unable to be fixed in time.


Rudi Lancaster/Guy Weaver were once again on sensational form, winning the Pirelli Welsh Historic W9 class for a second time this year in their Woolacombe Bay Holiday Parks Escort RS18000 Mk2. It wasn't a completely trouble-free run, as they lost 30 seconds on SS2 after putting the car off on a built up section of road and having to reverse out of a ditch. Despite this and continued brake bias issues, they scored sixth-placed overall Pirelli Welsh points as well.


John Morgan had no clutch and a misfire in his Fairfield Motor Co Escort Mk2 in the morning, but with Llinos Jones-Edwards by his side the Bridgnorth driver finished second in class W9 - while defending class W9 champion Lyn Davies (co-driven by Aled Richards) came home third in his Jonesport-prepared 57 Tyres Escort RS1800 Mk2 to maintain his second place in the class standings.


Peter Jones/Gareth Davies (Escort Mk2) had a good run to fourth in class, finishing ahead of Jeremy Wells/Martin Saunders, who had swapped their usual Wells Masonry Solutions Escort Mk1 for an underpowered Mk2, which they normally only use for course car duties. 


It was exactly a year ago that Steve Chaplin contested his first rally, finishing an incredible second in class W9. This was his first rally since last year's Wyedean and co-driven by Rich Suter the Gloucester driver finished sixth in class in his Dave Jenkins Motorsport-built Escort Mk2.


Robert Gough hasn't finished a rally since last year's Nicky Grist Stages and was hoping for a change of fortune in his Escort RS1800 Mk2. Partnered by Jez Rogers, he admitted to feeling a little rusty first thing, before a misfire hampered progress on SS4 and he stopped mid-way through the afternoon loop of stages.


Jonathan Brace/Paul Spooner bounced back from their retirement on Rally North Wales to win the Historic class W8 this time in their Dave Jenkins Motorsport-run Brace's Bakery Ford Escort RS1600 Mk1. Gary Smith/Clive Jones (Escort RS1600 Mk1) finished second and still lead the class, while Andrew Stokes/Jonny Tad Evans (Stokes Rally Team Ford Escort RS1600 Mk1) finished third and remain second!


Eddie Lewis' switch from a Fiesta R5 to an Historic spec BDA-engined Mechanical Solutions Escort Mk2 was a successful one, as he and co-driver Sion Cunniff won class W7. Peter Hinton finished second in his Escort Mk2 and (partnered by Lewis Sim) continues to lead the class, while Graham Thatcher was an excellent third in his Pembridge Vehicle Management TR7 V8 - which is enough for Tim Samuel to remain at the top of the co-drivers' class category.


Josh Carr/Osian Owen opened their Historic class W6 account with victory in their East Coast Bearings Escort Mk1.


The top three finishers in each Historic class at the end of the season will be put forward for the David Stokes Historic Challenge award for drivers and the Guy Weaver award for co-drivers.


Despite a misfire on the final stage, Iwan Roberts Jnr reigned supreme in the Hockly Motorsport-supported 2WD category. Co-driven by Daniel Jones, the Roberts of Ffestiniog Ford Escort G3 driver also took home seventh-placed overall Pirelli Welsh points. 


The star drive on Rally North Wales came from Chris Richmond Hand, and the road rally ace put in another truly remarkable performance this time as well. Co-driven by Ryan 'Sheep' Jones, the Llandysul driver mastered the slippery conditions in his DC Motorsport Escort Mk2 to finish second in the 2WD section - which maintains his lead in that and in the 57 Tyres Welsh Challenge. He also scored another top 10 Pirelli Welsh result to move up to sixth in the overall drivers' standings!


Rob Dennis/Andy Boswell finished third 2WD in their Team Dennis Escort Mk2, while the Swindon driver also leads class W11.


Geoff Phelps/Colin Jenkins lost time when the throttle started to stick open on SS3 and they ended up in a ditch on SS4, but they kept their class W11 title hopes alive with third in class in their Hartpury Farms Escort Mk2.


The windscreen wiper motor failed on Richard Warne's Escort Mk2 and having worked fine for 45 years it's not a spare part that he carries in the service van. He and co-driver Chris Deal had a nightmare final two stages but finished fifth in class - just behind Scott Walton/Craig Nelson (Avia Autos/Mid Glamorgan Escort Mk2).


Defending W12 champions Andrew Fox/Jaime-Lee Fox have taken the class lead after victory in their Xwatch Safety Solutions BMW 325, while David Jones/Glyn Price came home second in their Tanners Arms/GJ Price Transport BMW E30.


Alan Desbois (co-driven for the first time by Lucie Gutteridge) scored an impressive class W10 victory in his Peugeot 306 RWD, beating defending champions Martin Walters/Marie Fletcher (Digger Parts Direct Honda Civic). 


Michael Jenkins/Jordan Joines had no power coming out of hairpins in their Tutts Clump Fiesta R2, which was a problem they also suffered on Rally North Wales. They were lucky that the final stage was red flagged and they weren't able to drive through it at speed, as by then the car had also developed a severe vibration (possibly a loose engine or gearbox mount) and driveshaft issues. They were pleased to reach the finish, scoring third in class W10.


Greg Mills admitted to a slow start in his 1.6-litre Toyota-engined Escort Mk2, although he and co-driver Andrew Sankey were to later retire with head gasket failure. Damian and Joshua Thomas also failed to make it to the finish in their Weaver Motorsport/Thomas Design Peugeot 206 S1600.


Ashley Francis Adams/Mark Ammonds stormed to a convincing class W2 win in their T2 Fabrication Nissan Micra. Paddy Homan was contesting his first gravel rally for five months and got delayed behind a car that had spun in front of him on the opening stage. Things got a lot better for him and co-driver Sam Spencer as the event progressed and despite losing the rear brakes on the final stage and putting all the bias to the front, he picked up second-place class W2 points in the smart Gallant Building Services Ford Puma. Dylan Fowler-Bishop/Dan Evans damaged the front of their Restruct Nissan Mirca early in the day and were unlucky to retire on the final stage.


Eddie Lewis continues to lead the OnThePaceNote / Restruct Welsh Junior drivers' standings, although it was Lewis Hooper (co-driven by Rhys Edwards) who won the Welsh Junior section on the day after a fine drive in his Hooper Sport Fiesta R2. Just two points separate them at the top of the table, while Jack Bowen still leads the Junior co-drivers' section, despite his DNF.


Sam Mason finished third in the Juniors (and second to Hooper in class W4) after early understeer issues in his SM Autocare Ford Fiesta. Co-driven by James Seymour, the Bewdley youngster lowered the tyre pressures to see if that would help and pressed on hard in the tricky conditions to net a very good result.


The live streaming coverage from the Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages remains available to view on the Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship and Special Stage TV Facebook pages.


Round 3 of the Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship is the Plains Rally on Saturday 18 May. Organised by Knutsford & DMC, the event is based in the picturesque south Eryri National Park town of Bala, which is celebrating the 700th anniversary of being awarded a town charter by King Edward III. As part of the celebrations, all rally cars will carry the Y Bala 700 logo. 


During the 2024 season, the Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship will be raising awareness of its official charity partner The Osborne Trust (


For details about the Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship and how to register visit:



2024 Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages - top 10 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship finishers:
1. Matthew Hirst/Declan Dear (Ford Fiesta R5).......1hr 02mins 33.1secs
2. Rob Wilson/Martin Haggett (Mitsubishi Evo 7).......1hr 04mins 08.1secs
3. Russ Thompson/Stephen Link (Mitsubishi Evo 9).......1hr 04mins 49.9secs
4. James Giddings/Aled Davies (Mitsubishi Evo 9).......1hr 05mins 46.8secs
5. Wug Utting/Bob Stokoe (Subaru Impreza).......1hr 10mins 07.9secs
6. Rudi Lancaster/Guy Weaver (Ford Escort Mk2).......1hr 10mins 22.2secs
7. Iwan Roberts Jnr/Daniel Jones (Ford Escort G3).......1hr 10mins 41.5secs
8. Peter Baylis/Paul Godden (Mitsubishi Evo 9).......1hr 10mins 44.4secs
9. David Tomlin/Ian Beamond (Ford Fiesta R5).......1hr 11mins 16.2secs
10. Chris Richmond Hand/Ryan 'Sheep' Jones (Ford Escort Mk2).......1hr 11mins 54.6secs



2024 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship
Overall drivers' points after Round 2:
1. Matthew Hirst.......60pts
2. James Giddings.......49pts
3. Rudi Lancaster.......46pts
4. Peter Baylis.......43pts
5. Wug Utting.......43pts
6. Chris Richmond Hand.......37pts


For more information, please contact: 

Dave Evison

Secretary, Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship

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Pictures by Paul Mitchell. Please credit 'Paul Mitchell Photography' if used.

Paul Evans

Press Officer, Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship

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