Pirelli Motorsport UK Welsh Rally Championship 

MID WALES

  • Callum Black flies to Championship honours on the Nicky Grist Stages

     

     

    Callum Black and co-driver Jack Morton took victory on the opening round of the 2021 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship, the Nicky Grist Stages, winning the Interclub Rally section of the event and finishing an incredible seventh overall in their Ford Fiesta R5.

     

    In his first rally outing for almost two years, and his first in an R5 car for three and a half years, Callum, the 2017 Pirelli Welsh National Rally champion, drove brilliantly to score maximum points on the 44 stage mile event, held on the classic mid-Wales forest stages of Llyn Login, Monument, Halfway and Crychan.

     

    Despite a handling problem in the morning, caused by a broken anti-roll bar, and a spin on SS2, the 586 Sports team driver finished 21 seconds ahead of Ian Bainbridge/Will Atkins, who were delighted with the set-up changes they’d made to their Škoda Fabia R5 during lockdown. Ian was a lot faster in the afternoon, when all four stages were repeated – a full 20 seconds faster through Crychan the second time in fact.

     

    Third place went to George Lepley/Tom Woodburn in their AMS-tuned Mitsubishi Evo X. After a very good start, they found the afternoon loop was much more challenging, but did well to stay in touch with the R5 cars. They were also top Welsh Junior crew home – Lepley staking first claim to the top end-of-season prize of a test in a PCRS Rallysport-prepared Hyundai i20 R5, courtesy of OnThePaceNote.

     

    It’s the same Junior prize that Tom Llewellin won in 2019, and the former Welsh Junior champion appeared this time in a Mitsubishi Mirage. Together with co-driver Ross Whittock, he made a fantastic four-wheel drive competition debut, and never put a foot wrong as he got valuable miles under his belt on his way to fourth.

     

    Scotland’s Garry Pearson/Niall Burns picked up points for fifth in their Mitsubishi Evo IX. Richard Hill and Elgan Davies were paired together for the first time in their Mitsubishi Evo IX, and the new driver/co-driver partnership worked so well that they caught the car ahead of them on SS4. Their speed continued in the afternoon, coming home sixth, while Gareth Mimnagh/Barry McCarney had a good run to an untroubled seventh place in their Mitsubishi Evo VI – and topped the RAVENOL UK Welsh Challenge category.

     

    2019 Pirelli Welsh National Rally champions Matthew Hirst/Declan Dear had a nightmare of an opening loop, with an engine misfire on SS1 and 2 and a broken driveshaft on SS3 and 4 in their Mitsubishi Evo IX. Despite this, they showed their class with a brilliant recovery in the afternoon, which rewarded them with 11th at the finish.

     

    Also struggling was the 2019 championship runner-up Russ Thompson, who snapped a pair of driveshafts on his Mitsubishi Evo IX upon landing after a jump on SS2. Having missed two stages, he completed the afternoon’s loop of stages – both for testing and to get seat time with new co-driver Peredur Davies.

     

    Andy Davies/Ian Beamond were having a good run before a TCA broke on their Subaru Impreza.

     

    Bob Morgan’s first rally for three years was hampered a little with his super-smart and self-prepared Škoda Fabia struggling to launch off the start lines. Co-driven by Adrian Williams, the Winner Garage boss was to retire in the afternoon with brake problems.

     

    Wug Utting was sporting a new hip, having had a replacement operation only a month ago. He and co-driver Bob Stokoe were on fine form in their Subaru Impreza STi N12, completing the event without drama. It was also a good debut for Martyn and Dawn England, who, after many years in their Ford Fiesta R5+, had purchased a Mitsubishi Evo X just four days before the event. And they got to the finish without an issue.

     

    It was also great to see Nik Elsmore return to the sport, having only contested three rallies in the last 12 years! On his first event since the 2015 Wyedean Stages Rally, he and co-driver Craig Drew were quickly back up to speed in a Mitsubishi Evo IX, getting used to a sequential gearbox and route notes after a long time away. Elsmore joked that, “it’s a good opportunity to blow plenty of cobwebs away, although the event doesn’t have much faith in us, seeding us at ninety-one.” And he was correct, for he was a second per mile quicker through the stages in the afternoon and came home ninth registered Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship contender.


    David Crossen won the Restruct-sponsored Two-Wheel Drive category, the Irishman finishing eighth with Aileen Kelly on the notes in an Escort Mk2.

     

    Paul Barrett/Gordon Noble were almost a minute behind in their Escort Mk2 – but were nonetheless overjoyed to win the hotly contested Historic class.

     

    Frank Kelly, co-driven by his daughter Lauren, had a tyre come off the rim on SS2 – but their afternoon was a lot better as they came home third 2WD in their famous Baby Blue Escort Mk2. Owen McMackin/Lee Taylor and Ashley Davies/Sam Fordham finished fourth and fifth in the 2WD section in their Escort Mk2s.

     

    Having very kindly donated 500 packets of fabulously moreish Brace’s Welsh Cakes for all the volunteer marshals, Jonathan Brace had a good start to the event – despite picking up a puncture in SS2. Sadly for him and co-driver Paul Spooner, his immaculate Escort Mk2’s engine cut out a mile into the final stage and refused to restart.

     

    Ben Friend/Cliff Simmons also had high hopes of a good result, but their run ended after their Escort Mk2 broke its differential on landing after a crossroads junction.

     

    Paul Street/Ian Jones finished second in the Historic section in their RS1800 Mk2. 2000 Pirelli Welsh National Rally champions Pete Littler/Andy Marchbank and Michael Mcdaid/Daniel Petrie came home third and fourth in a pair of Escort Mk2s, while Tom Coughtrie/Ian Fraser were fifth Historic home in their Mitsubishi Galant VR4.

     



    Gary Smith/Clive Jones won the private RS1600 Mk1 battle, beating Andrew Stokes/Jonny ‘Tad’ Evans and David Kirby/Martin Corbett. They might have been seeded in the 200s, but you’d be hard pressed to find a more competitive group of drivers – and that battle is set to rage all season.

     

    Also enjoying themselves were Julian Birley/Steve White. They won the RallySport championship 40 years ago in a Talbot Sunbeam Ti, and have returned this year in a 1600cc Sunbeam – having rebuilt the engine, gearbox and rear axle during lockdown. Their preparation efforts paid off, as they recorded a trouble-free W6 class win.

     

    Ioan Lloyd/Sion Williams enjoyed a fantastic run in their Peugeot 208 R2, a spin on SS2 not getting in the way of a well-earned W4 class victory. Jonathan Jones/Alan Walker were second in their Fiesta R2, while Charlie Todd/Glyn Thomas completed the top three Welsh Juniors in their Fiesta R2T. Jonathan Lee Jones/Lewis Griffiths gently rolled their Fiesta R2T in Halfway, but sadly a holed radiator meant that they could go no further.

     

    James Dunkley/Dan Sayce won the W2 class in their Vauxhall Corsa. Steve Black/Paul Morris (Suzuki Swift S1400) beat David and Toby Brick (Vauxhall Nova) to the W3 class trophy.

     

    Robi Wood/Osian Davies (Escort Mk2) won the new Road Rally (W5) class, with Ricky Crone/Daniel James (Escort) finishing second and Graham Thatcher/Tim Samuels (Peugeot 206) completing the top three.

     

    David Edwards/Paul Dolby (Escort Mk2) beat Neal James/Kevin Jones (Escort) to the W7 award, while Dan and Cyril Jones (Vauxhall Nova) won W10. On their first forestry rally and their first event outside Ireland, Jason Black/Karl Egan won the W11 class in their rear-wheel drive Toyota Starlet.

     

    “It’s been three and a half years since I last drove an R5 car and almost two years since I’ve done a rally, so it’s been a very enjoyable event and I’m delighted with the result,” said Callum Black.

     

    “It was good to just be back in a rally car – and I was surprised to be right up there and leading the very strong Welsh National Rally Championship section after stage one. Between stage one and two, I noticed that the anti-roll bar had snapped, so I had to disconnect it on the road section. The stability was compromised and the car was trying to get away from me on the faster sections after that, so stages two, three and four were a bit of a challenge.

     

    “The team fixed the car at midday service and after giving it a good go on the first two stages in the afternoon, we decided to bring the car home safely and get through the last two stages without any heroics and take home maximum championship points. I’m very happy with the result and I’m already looking forward to the next event.”

     

    While the Nicky Grist Stages was a non-spectator event, fans could watch live streaming with Howard Davies and Eifion Jones interviewing crews from strategic points along the route. Sideways Media was there to film the action, and it is producing a 30 minute programme dedicated to the Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship, which will be uploaded onto social media channels as early as possible.

     

    After a 518-day enforced break caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, it truly was a fantastic opening round to the 2021 Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship.

     

    The series continues on Saturday 4 September with the Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages.

     

    Further details on the 2021 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship, together with registration information, can be found online at: wnrc.wamc.org.uk




    Picture captions
    Top: Callum Black/Jack Morton (Ford Fiesta R5) – 1st overall, Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship, 2021 Nicky Grist Stages.
    Bottom: Ian Bainbridge/Will Atkins (Škoda Fabia R5) – 2nd overall, Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship, 2021 Nicky Grist Stages.
    Top Middle: George Lepley/Tom Woodburn (Mitsubishi Evo X) – 3rd overall and 1st Junior, Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship, 2021 Nicky Grist Stages.
    Middle : David Crossen/Aileen Kelly (Ford Escort Mk2) – 1st Two-Wheel Drive, Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship, 2021 Nicky Grist Stages

    Please credit ‘Chris Huish, RallySport Media’ if reproduced.

     


     

  • Garry Pearson and Callum Black go head-to-head for 2021 Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship title on the Rallynuts Stages

    Press release: 5 November 2021 

     

     

     

    Garry Pearson, pictured, and Callum Black will go head-to-head in the battle for the Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship title as the 2021 series reaches an exciting climax on the Rallynuts Stages Rally (Saturday 13 November).

     

    Having scored maximum points on the previous two rounds, the Eventsigns Woodpecker Rally and Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally, Garry takes a six-point lead into the final round.

     

    With a score to drop towards the final points tally, if Garry and co-driver Niall Burns win again it will give the Asset Alliance Škoda Fabia R5 crew a perfect three maximum score result and their first Welsh title.

     

    If Callum wins and Garry finishes second, they would be tied on points – with Garry winning the tiebreak.

     

    Whilst Callum is currently third in the overall drivers’ standings, the 2017 Pirelli Welsh champion could win the title again – but he must finish first or second.

     

    Co-driven by Jack Morton, Callum was the early leader of the Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship after taking victory on the opening Nicky Grist Stages. He kept his title hopes alive with a second-place finish in his Pallas Connections-backed Ford Fiesta R5 on the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally, but his retirement on the Woodpecker could come back to haunt him, especially in a tiebreak situation.

     

    Neither driver has rallied in Myherin, Sweet Lamb and Hafren forests for several years. Callum was last there on the 2017 Wales Rally GB, while Garry hasn’t seen them since the 2014 WRGB.

     

    George Lepley, pictured, arrives at the Rallynuts Stages lying second in the overall drivers’ standings. But with a second and two thirds the WD-40 Mitsubishi Evo X driver can only add five points to his current total (when taking the lowest score to drop into account) and is therefore unable to win the overall title. Together with Tom Woodburn, George is more than capable of winning the event, especially as the fast and flowing mid-Wales stages will suit his car, and he has already claimed the Pirelli Welsh Junior title and the magnificent prize of a test in a PCRS Rallysport-prepared Hyundai i20 R5, courtesy of OnThePaceNote.co.uk

     

    Work commitments prevented Ian Bainbridge, pictured, from contested the last round, but he and co-driver Will Atkins are looking forward to returning to the Welsh forests in their Gypsum Group Škoda Fabia R5. The 2018 Rallynuts Stages was Ian’s first forest rally, where he was seeded at number 90 in a Subaru Impreza. His rapid rise through the rallying ranks, particularly since he acquired the Fabia, means that another good result could secure him the Pirelli Welsh runners-up spot.

     

    It’s certainly not been the season Matthew Hirst (Delta Salvage Mitsubishi Evo IX) and Russ Thompson (Dunnow Plant Mitsubishi Evo IX) had been hoping for, so the respective 2019 Pirelli Welsh driver champion and runner-up will be aiming to end 2021 on a high. Matthew has been co-driven by Declan Dear all season, while Russ will have Tom Murphy alongside him this time, his third co-driver of the season.

     

    The 2018 Pirelli Welsh driver champion Dylan Davies hit a rock and lost a wheel on the Cambrian Rally and, together with Mark Glennerster on the route notes, will be hoping for better luck this time in his Subaru Impreza.

     

    Perry Gardener/Jack Bowen, who had a fantastic run to fourth on the Woodpecker, return in their Ford Fiesta R5, as do Wug Utting/Bob Stokoe (Subaru Impreza STi N12b), Nik Elsmore/Craig Drew (CDS Taxis Mitsubishi Evo IX) and Martyn and Dawn England (SW Motorsport Mitsubishi Evo X).

     

    Richard Hill/Patrick Cooper (RH Motors Mitsubishi), Saleh Hijazi/Stephen Landen (The Pallet Company Subaru Impreza STi), Keith Jones/Jonny ‘Tad’ Evans (Grooms Garage Subaru Impreza), Martyn Andrews/Steve Greenhill (Opie Oils Subaru Impreza) and Fraser Martin/Dylan Bargate (Slideways Motorsport Mitsubishi Evo 6) will all be aiming to finish the season in style, whilst after a good debut in their new car Bob Morgan/Adrian Williams will be another crew to watch in their Winner Garage Škoda Fabia R5.

     

    David Tomlin, who retired his Axon Ford Fiesta R5 with clutch problems on the Cambrian, will be co-driven by Ian Beamond as his regular navigator Keith Ashley is otherwise engaged as Rallynuts Stages Clerk of the Course and Chief Safety Officer.

     

    There is a good battle for the RAVENOL UK Welsh Challenge, with several drivers still in contention for the title.

     

    Owen McMackin, pictured, (co-driven by Lee Taylor) currently leads the points standings in his McMackin Plant Hire Escort Mk2, although Ashley Davies (co-driven by Sam Fordham) in his G&B Finch/Burton Power Escort Mk2 and David Crossen (co-driven by Aileen Kelly) in his Crossen Engineering Escort Mk2 could still win the title.

     

    Maxx Bradshaw/Liam Whiteley have travelled from the Isle of Man for every round of this year’s Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship and after finishing fourth in the Challenge category on the Cambrian the Manx men will be hoping to end the season with a podium finish in their Renvo8/DB Autos & Sons Mitsubishi Evo III.

     

    There is also a close fight for the Restruct-sponsored Two-Wheel Drive title.

     

    Owen McMackin leads that category as well, with Ashley Davies,pictured, and David Crossen, pictured below, also able to win. In fact, the latter could win the title with a perfect score of 90 points, having won the class on the Nicky Grist and the Woodpecker.

     

    Having given his immaculate Wales Motorsport-built Restruct Escort Mk2 its debut on the Woodpecker, Two-Wheel Drive class sponsor Ron Morgan will contest the Rallynuts with Marc Clatworthy once again in the co-driver’s seat.

     

    Retirement on the Cambrian Rally means that Ioan Lloyd is unable to win the Two-Wheel Drive title, although the fact that he’s been challenging for that trophy in his West Wales Rally Spares Peugeot 208 R2 highlights what a talented youngster he is. Co-driven by Sion Williams, the teenager’s priority was always the class W3 title, although he is in a race against time to repair his car after hitting a rocky outcrop and breaking a strut last time out.

     

     

    Paul Street/Ian Jones,pictured, lead the highly competitive Pirelli Welsh Historic Cup after a win, a second and a fourth-place finish in their Escort RS1800 Mk2. They can only be beaten to the title by Paul Barrett (Escort Mk2).

     

    Ben Friend/Cliff Simmons finished second in class on the Woodpecker and will be looking to end the season with a Pirelli Welsh Historic Cup win in their Allglass Escort Mk2, although winning the title is beyond them.

     

    Jonathan Brace/Paul Spooner (Brace’s Bakery Escort Mk2),pictured, Charles Hopkinson/Alan Jones (Black Antler Design Escort RS1800 Mk2), Neal James/Kevin Jones (Mosley Rolling Road/Cwm Engineering Escort Mk2) and Michael McDaid/Declan Casey (McDaid Pharmacy Escort RS1800 Mk2) will also be hoping to end their Pirelli Welsh Historic Cup season with a good result.

     

     

    Robi Wood/Osian Davies must win the Pirelli Welsh Road Rally class in their NIBS/SWG Escort Mk2 to have any chance of winning the title. Leaders Ricky Crone/Daniel James (Escort Mk2),pictured, have one hand on the trophy, after two wins and a second this season and don’t even have to finish if Robi doesn’t win the class to be crowned champions.

     

     

    Graham Thatcher/Tim Samuel (Pembridge Vehicle Management Peugeot 206GTi),pictured, and Mark Lennox/Rhodri Evens (Lennox Engineering Escort Mk2) have both enjoyed a good season and excelled in the Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship’s newest class.

     

    Adrian and Matthew Walk will be aiming to secure the W2 title in their PartBOX Ford Ka, having already won the class twice this year.

     

    Steve Black is already the class W3 champion and, co-driven by Paul Morris, the 586 Sports team driver will be out for a bit of giant-killing fun in his rapid Suzuki Swift 1400.

     

    To highlight the vast array of cars that are welcomed into the Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship’s inclusive class structure, other registered competitors contesting the Rallynuts Stages include Paul Walker/Geraint Thomas (Subaru Impreza), James Dunkley/Dan Sayce (JD Auto Services Vauxhall Corsa), Richard Jordan/James Smith (MG ZR), Conor Tolson/Dylan Thomas (Powerhouse Turbo Garage Ford Fiesta R2), Kevin Metcalfe/Ian Jones (BMW E30), Rob Wilson/Martin Haggett (Ravenol Ford Fiesta R2), Harry Hunt/Steve McPhee (Ford Escort), Robert Bradley/Kevin Booth (Browns Furniture Ford Escort Mk2), Andrew Fox/Jaime-Lee Fox (Fitzgerald Plant Services BMW 325), Paul Lomas/Mark Leader (Plant Speed Ford Escort), Bob Morris/Dil John (Subaru Impreza), Simon Dalton/Jamie Vaughan (Subaru Impreza STi N12b), Steve Hollis/Tim Currie (Volkswagen Golf R), Tom Naylor/Tom Bishop (Ford Fiesta ST), Alan Desbois/Peter Littlefield (RWD Peugeot 306) and Simon and Alex Stanbury in their MG ZR.

     

    Experienced motorsport broadcaster Sideways Media will be at the Rallynuts Stages to capture all the action for a multi-film edited highlights package, dedicated to registered Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship contenders in every class and broadcast on the Championship’s Facebook and YouTube channels in the week after the event. In addition, Howard Davies and Eifion Jones will position themselves at passage controls and at the finish where the two former esteemed co-drivers will broadcast live driver interviews and give expert analysis online.

     

    Postponed from its original date in April, this year’s Rallynuts Stages Rally on Saturday 13 November will be the 47th running of the event. Voted the best Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship round in 2018 and ’19, the Midland Manor Motor Club organised event will follow its now traditional format with six stages and 44 stage miles in Myherin, Sweet Lamb and Hafren forests. Rally HQ, the start, midday service and finish will be at the Royal Welsh Showground in Llanelwedd.

     

    Spectators are welcome at specific stage locations (but not the service area) and more information can be found on the event’s website: rallynutsrally.co.uk.

     

    Further details on the 2021 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship can be found online at: wnrc.wamc.org.uk.

    Words Paul Evans
    Images Paul Mitchell & Chris Huish. 

     


     

  • Garry Pearson wins the 2021 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship drivers’ title on a tiebreak

    Press release: 14 November 2021

     

     

    Garry Pearson is the 2021 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally champion after a stunning fightback on the final two stages of the Rallynuts Stages Rally (Saturday 13 November) saw him clinch the title by the smallest of margins and winning on a tiebreak.

     

    Co-driven by Niall Burns, Garry lost 17 seconds on the opening stage through Myherin when the power steering failed on his Pirelli-shod Asset Alliance Škoda Fabia R5. A nut on the top of the reserve reservoir had come loose which had also caused the windscreen to mist up.

     

    Down in fifth overall and fourth Pirelli Welsh contender, Garry set the fastest time in Sweet Lamb and Hafren to take the Pirelli Welsh lead by the time crews reached mid-day service at the Royal Welsh Showground in Llanelwedd, two seconds ahead of Callum Black and 18 seconds ahead of Ian Bainbridge.

     

    The title looked his, until a right rear puncture halfway through the repeat of Myherin cost Garry almost a minute.

     

    Now 45 seconds behind Callum and 27 seconds behind Ian, Garry needed to finish second to win the Welsh title and with just 13.47 stage miles remaining he launched an incredible fightback.

     

    Garry set the fastest time on SS5 (Sweet Lamb 2) taking 17 seconds out of Ian to set up a thrilling final run through Hafren 2.

     

    In a title or nothing final stage charge, Garry was then 12 seconds faster than Ian to overtake him on the event leaderboard and take second place Pirelli Welsh Championship points by just two seconds – which with Callum taking a maximum score was what Garry needed to be crowned 2021 champion.

     

    It was also cause for celebration for the 2018 Pirelli Welsh driver champion Dylan Davies, who owns, prepares and runs Garry’s 2021 title winning Fabia R5.

     

    “It’s been one of my most challenging days of my rallying career, from the power steering problem in the morning, driving half of stage four on a puncture and then a fightback on the last two stages in the afternoon,” said Garry.

     

    “I took it one event at a time and it’s the best year I’ve ever had in rallying. I’m speechless.

     

    “Credit to Dylan Davies Rallying because they’ve prepared a good car for us all season. And thanks to Asset Alliance, Pirelli, George Anderson Builders and all the people in the team for pulling together and getting us here.”

     

     

     

    Callum, pictured,  needed to score maximum points on the Rallynuts to have a chance of winning the Pirelli Welsh drivers’ title for a second time, and 2017 champion did that in spectacular style and also finished second overall on the event.

     

    Co-driven by Tom Woodford, a wrong tyre choice in the morning cost Callum time, particularly on SS2 when the Pallas Connections Ford Fiesta R5 understeered badly through Sweet Lamb. It may have cost Callum the overall rally win, but with Garry picking up the Pirelli Welsh points he needed the rally result didn’t cost Callum the Welsh title.

     

    Ian, pictured, drove very well, although the work commitments that restricted his pre-rally preparations ultimately prevented him from setting the stage times that he knew he could. Co-driven by Will Atkins, Ian still finished on the Pirelli Welsh podium in his right-hand drive Gypsum Group Škoda Fabia R5, which was just reward for his gritty performance, particularly through Myherin and Sweet Lamb which he thoroughly enjoyed. The result also sees him finish third in the overall drivers’ standings.

     

    Perry Gardener/Jack Bowen finished fourth Pirelli Welsh crew on the Eventsigns Woodpecker Rally, which is where they also finished this time on only their second event in a Ford Fiesta R5.

     

    Russ Thompson (co-driven by Tom Murphy) left his best until the last round and finally enjoyed a trouble-free event (save for an issue with a fuel pump on a road section) in his Dunnow Plant Mitsubishi Evo IX to come home fifth.

     

    He was followed home by Matthew Hirst, pictured below, who also finished a difficult season on a high when he and co-driver Declan Dear enjoyed a clean run, albeit surviving a near roll on the penultimate stage, to the finish in their Delta Salvage Mitsubishi Evo IX.

     

    Matthew finishes fifth in the overall drivers’ standings, just behind Welsh Junior George Lepley who didn’t start the Rallynuts.

     

    Dylan Davies just missed out on a top 10 Rallynuts finish in a Subaru Impreza he’d only bought the day before the event. In an extraordinary performance, he and Mark Glennerster finished 11th overall in a car that he’d not even had the time to put the characteristic Dylan Davies Rallying team yellow and black coloured decals on!

     

    Bob Morgan is still getting used to his new Winner Garage Škoda Fabia R5 – so much so that when the windscreen wipers came on in Sweet Lamb he couldn’t find the switch to turn them off. Despite the distraction, he and co-driver Adrian Williams had a great run and finished 18th overall.

     

    Nik Elsmore finished one place behind in his CDS Taxis Mitsubishi Evo IX. It’s been many years since he’d rallied on such slippery stages and the part worn tyres that he was using didn’t help him find the required grip. Nevertheless, he and co-driver Rob Flagg enjoyed a good run and a top 20 finish.

     

    Maxx Bradshaw/Liam Whiteley were pleased with their pace and admitted they couldn’t have gone any faster over the afternoon stages to record a good finish in their Renvo8/DB Autos & Sons Mitsubishi Evo III.

     

    Martyn and Dawn England lost time with a puncture in the morning but recovered well to score a good result in only their second rally in their SW Motorsport Mitsubishi Evo X,

     

    Wug Utting/Bob Stokoe lost a considerable amount of time on the morning loop with a puncture in Sweet Lamb and another in Hafren, but brought their Subaru Impreza STi N12b home for a strong finish

     

    Despite retiring after multiple punctures on SS2, Owen McMackin, pictured, clinched the RAVENOL UK Welsh Challenge title, thanks to Ashley Davies (co-driven by Sam Fordham) retiring his G&B Finch/Burton Power Escort Mk2 after the penultimate stage.

     

    David Crossen’s chances of winning the title took a dive when he hit a rock, punctured a tyre and bent the steering on his Crossen Engineering Escort Mk2 on SS1. Co-driven by Aileen Kelly, his title hopes finally came to an end when a throttle cable problem saw him take a stage maximum on SS4 and he skipped the last two stages.

     

    Owen also wins the Restruct-sponsored Two-Wheel Drive title, which gives his navigator Lee Taylor the co-drivers’ class trophy.

     

    Paul Street/Ian Jones are confirmed as Pirelli Welsh Historic Cup champions after a great season in their Escort RS1800 Mk2.

     

    Nick Elliott/Dave Price won the category on the day in their Escort Mk2, beating Ben Friend/Cliff Simmons, pictured, who had put gravel suspension on their asphalt Allglass Escort for the event – hence appearing in a white Mk2, rather than their more familiar red Ford.

     

    Michael McDaid enjoyed a good run on his first appearance in the classic mid-Wales forests, with he and co-driver Declan Casey taking a Pirelli Welsh Historic Cup podium in their McDaid Pharmacy Escort RS1800 Mk2 to finish third in the class at the end of the season.

     

    Jonathan Brace/Paul Spooner also ended the season on a high in their Brace’s Bakery Escort Mk2, while Charles Hopkinson/Alan Jones (Black Antler Design Escort RS1800 Mk2), Neal James/Kevin Jones (Mosley Rolling Road/Cwm Engineering Escort Mk2) and Ron Morgan/Marc Clatworthy (Restruct Escort Mk2) all survived the tricky and often changeable road conditions to score good results.

     

    Ricky Crone/Daniel James (Escort Mk2) are the Pirelli Welsh Road Rally class champions after taking maximum points on the Rallynuts Stages. They had understeer problems on the first loop in their Escort Mk2 but survived to finish the season with a perfect score of 90 points.

     

    Robi Wood/Osian Davies retired their NIBS/SWG Escort Mk2 mid-way through the afternoon, thus ending their title aspirations.

     

    Mark Lennox/Rhodri Evens had a gear linkage problem on the opening stage in their Tec-Nic Motorsport/Lennox Engineering Escort Mk2, but fortunately the problem cured itself. They weren’t quite out of the woods, as a problem with the limited slip differential in the afternoon was cause for concern, although they battled on to finish second in class and secure third in the final Pirelli Welsh Road Rally standings.

     

    Graham Thatcher/Tim Samuel hit a compression on SS1 which caused gear selection problems thereafter and despite starting the afternoon loop they retired their Pembridge Vehicle Management Peugeot 206GTi.

     

     Ioan Lloyd/Sion Williams, pictured,  focused on getting a finish and in doing so clinched the W4 title in their West Wales Rally Spares Peugeot 208 R2. In a truly wonderful season the talented teenager also finished fifth in the Welsh Challenge drivers’ standings and fourth in the Two-Wheel Drive points table.

     

    Conor Tolson/Dylan Thomas finished runners-up in class W4 after a strong season and a good first visit to Myherin, Sweet Lamb and Hafren forests in their Powerhouse Turbo Garage Ford Fiesta R2.

     

    A perfect score of 90 points also secured Adrian and Matthew Walk the class W2 title in their PartBOX Ford Ka.

     

    It also wasn’t the easiest condition for a Corsa, but James Dunkley/Dan Sayce did extremely well to finish second in class in their JD Auto Services Vauxhall, despite having to ease off on the final stage when the sumpguard came loose.

     

     Steve Black put his sensible head on and was also driving for a finish. Co-driven by Paul Morris, the 586 Sports team driver’s tactics were rewarded with the class W3 title in his Suzuki Swift 1400.

     

    Elsewhere Simon Dalton/Ryan Griffiths had a good run in their Blendline Subaru Impreza STi N12b, having hit a rock on the inside of a corner on SS3 and narrowly avoided being flung off the road.

     

    Andrew Fox/Jaime-Lee Fox had a worrying noise coming from underneath their Fitzgerald Plant Services BMW 325 as they suspected a dislodged propshaft guard, but they survived to reach the finish.

     

    In only his second event after coming out of a six year rally retirement Chris Gittins reached the finish in his 2.8-litre BMW Compact, ably guided by Daniel Jones.

     

    Paul Walker/Geraint Thomas were happy to finish after they hit a hole a mile from the end of the final stage which bent a wheel in their Green Power Subaru Impreza.

     

    Meanwhile Keith Jones/Jonny ‘Tad’ Evans (Grooms Garage Subaru Impreza), Harry Hunt/Steve McPhee (Ford Escort) and Rob Wilson/Martin Haggett (Ravenol Ford Fiesta R2) were equally delighted to cross the finish line of what had been a very demanding event.

     

    David Tomlin/Ian Beamond broke a wheel on the opening stage and then a tyre came off the rim on SS2. Their afternoon wasn’t much better either and they were forced to retire when the power steering on their Axon Ford Fiesta R5 failed on SS4.

     

    Paul Lomas/Mark Leader (Plant Speed Ford Escort) and Alan Desbois/Peter Littlefield (Peugeot 306 RWD) both retired on the morning loop, while despite hitting a rock on SS2 and stopping to change a puncture David Jones/Gwyn Price retired their Tanners Arms BMW E30 in the afternoon.

     

    Further details on the  Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship can be found online at: wnrc.wamc.org.uk.

     

    2021 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship

    Provisional points after Round 4:

     

    Overall driver

    1. Garry Pearson….87pts
    2. Callum Black….87pts
    3. Ian Bainbridge….77pts
    4. George Lepley….77pts
    5. Matthew Hirst….63pts
    6. Owen McMackin….52pts
    7. Perry Garender….48pts
    8. Ashley Davies….48pts
    9. Russ Thompson….47.5pts
    10. Richard Hill….45pts

     

    Overall co-driver

    1. Niall Burns….90pts
    2. Will Atkins….84pts
    3. Declan Dear….74pts
    4. Jack Bowen….71pts
    5. Lee Taylor….66pts
    6. Ian Jones….54pts
    7. Liam Whiteley….53pts
    8. Adrian Williams….48pts
    9. Cliff Simmons….48pts
    10. Sion Williams….44pts

     

    Class winners:

     

    Pirelli Welsh Junior

    Driver: George Lepley

    Co-driver: Will Atkins

     

    RAVENOL UK Welsh Challenge

    Driver: Owen McMackin

    Co-driver: Jack Bowen

     

    Restruct Two-Wheel Drive

    Driver: Owen McMackin

    Co-driver: Lee Taylor

     

    Pirelli Welsh Historic Cup

    Driver: Paul Street

    Co-driver: Ian Jones

     

    W2 (2WD, 1001cc to 1400cc 8v naturally aspirated)

    Driver: Adrian Walk

    Co-driver: Matt Walk

     

    W3 (2WD, 1001cc to 1400cc 16v naturally aspirated)

    Driver: Steve Black

    Co-driver: Caron Tomlinson

     

    W4 (2WD, all R2 homologated cars / FIA 1000cc turbo and 1600cc)

    Driver: Ioan Lloyd

    Co-driver: Sion Williams

     

    W5 (2WD, Road Rally cars)

    Driver: Ricky Crone

    Co-driver: Daniel James

     

    W6 (2WD, Historic Cat  including up to 1600cc category 2, 3 and 4a)

    Driver: Julian Birley and Chris Hellings (tied)

     

    W7 (2WD, Historic 1601cc and over 8v single cam (category 2, 3 and 4a)

    Driver: Neal James

    Co-driver: Kevin Jones

     

    W8 (2WD, Historic 1601cc and over 16v multi valve (category 2, 3, 4a and 4b up to 1600cc)

    Driver: Paul Street

    Co-driver: Ian Jones

     

    W9 (4WD, Historic category 4b over 1600cc)

    Driver: Tom Coughtrie

     

    W10 (2WD, 1401cc to 1600cc naturally aspirated)

    Driver: Dan Jones

    Co-driver: Cyril Jones

     

    W11 (2WD, 1601cc to 2000cc naturally aspirated)

    Driver: Robert Wilson

    Co-driver: Martin Haggett

     

    W12 (2WD, 2001cc and over)

    Driver: Owen McMackin

    Co-driver: Lee Taylor

     

    W13 (4WD, all four-wheel drive cars, excluding class W14 and W9)

    Driver: George Lepley

    Co-driver: Declan Dear

     

    W14 (4WD, WRC/R5/S2000/RCC cars)

    Driver: Callum Black

    Co-driver: Niall Burns

     

    Pirelli Welsh Over 50

    Driver: Paul Street

    Co-driver: Ian Jones

     


     

  • Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship roars back into action.

     

    After a 518-day enforced break caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship roars back into action next weekend. The Nicky Grist Stages (Saturday 10 July) will feature one of the largest fields of championship contenders ever gathered, all gunning for points in pursuit of title success.

     

    Covid-19 restrictions have seen motorsport in Wales halted, barring a few exceptions, since the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally on 8 February 2020.

     

    But now, finally, rallying in the Welsh forests is returning – with an unprecedented demand for places on the start list. This level of interest has produced a quality field of drivers and co-drivers and a vast array of cars unlike anything seen for many years.

     

    The inclusive Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship class structure features an incredibly wide range of cars driven by former champions, old rivals, newcomers and juniors. The list features the strongest ever contingent from England, Scotland, Ireland, and the Isle of Man, aiming to beat the proudly patriotic and famously fast Welsh home grown rally talent.

     

    Former Pirelli Welsh National Rally champions preparing for battle are 2019 (and defending) overall title winners Matthew Hirst/Declan Dear in their Mitsubishi Evo IX. They are joined by the 2018 driver champion Dylan Davies/Mark Glennerster (Škoda Fabia R5), the 2017 driver champion Callum Black/Michael Gilbey (Ford Fiesta R5) and the 2000 champions Pete Littler/Andy Marchbank (Ford Escort Mk2).

     

    These champions will be under pressure from the likes of Ian Bainbridge/Will Atkins, who scored maximum Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship points on the 2020 Cambrian Rally and won last December’s Rali Adfer Coedwigoedd Cymru test event in a Škoda Fabia R5. 2019 championship runners-up Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy (Mitsubishi Evo IX), Wug Utting/Bob Stokoe (Subaru Impreza STi N12) and Nik Elsmore/Craig Drew (Mitsubishi Evo IX) will join the fray. Meanwhile, Martyn and Dawn England have swapped their Ford Fiesta R5+ for a Mitsubishi Evo X.

     

    Also in a new car for this year is the 2019 Welsh Junior champion, Tom Llewellin. Tom, co-driven on this occasion by Ross Whittock, makes his competition debut in a four-wheel-drive Mitsubishi Mirage. Elsewhere in the field, Paul Walker/Geraint Thomas have exchanged their Mitsubishi for a Subaru Impreza.

     

    With great rallies to learn their skill and the lure of a magnificent prize of a test drive in a PCRS Rallysport-prepared Hyundai i20 R5 (courtesy of OnThePaceNote), the Junior category is buoyant again this year. George Lepley/Tom Woodburn will compete in their Mitsubishi Evo X, Ioan Lloyd/Sion Williams will move up from the Formula 1000 Junior Championship (and a few great road rally results) to a Peugeot 208 R2, and Zak Hughes/Ian Beamond bring their Renault Twingo R2 Evo.

     

    Other Under-25-year-old hard chargers to look out for include Aoife Raftery/Dylan Doonan (Ford Fiesta), Charlie Todd/Glyn Thomas (Ford Fiesta) and Gethin Price/Matthew Baddeley (Nissan Micra). Lining up alongside will be Jason Black/Karl Egan (Toyota Starlet) and Maxx Bradshaw/Liam Andrew Whiteley, who travel from the Isle of Man in their Mitsubishi Evo III.

     

    The ever-popular Restruct-sponsored Two-Wheel Drive category has received one of its strongest entries. Nick Elliott/Dave Price, Jonathan Brace/Paul Spooner, Steven Ormond-Smith/Matty Daniels and Frank/Lauren Kelly (to name but a few) are all in Ford Escort Mk2s. Andrew Davison/Tom Murphy bring their Talbot Sunbeam, Alan Desbois/Peter Littlefield wheel out their Peugeot 306 RWD, while David Jones/Glyn Price and Kevin Metcalfe/Ian Jones both appear in BMW E30s.

     

    More than 50 crews are eligible for the RAVENOL UK Welsh Challenge, which rewards drivers and co-drivers who have yet to finish in the top 10 overall of a Championship round and is open to any competitor in any class.

     

    The Historic classes are very well represented this year, with many of the front-running Two-Wheel Drive category crews in contention for this title as well. In addition to those Escort Mk2 crews already mentioned, others will be piloted by Paul Barrett/Gordon Noble, David Edwards/Paul Dolby, Paul Street/Ian Jones, Phil Clarke/Steve Pugh, Ryan Barrett/Paul McCann, Robert Gough/Keaton Williams, Rob Dennis/Andy Boswell, Richard Lane/Jez Rogers, Michael Mcdaid/Daniel Petrie, Neal James/Kevin Jones and Ben Friend/Cliff Simmons. Gary Smith/Clive Jones, Andrew Stokes/Jonny Tad Evans, and David Kirby/Martin Corbett appear on the opening round in Escort Mk1s, while Julian Birley/Steve White wheel out a Talbot Sunbeam Ti.

     

    The new class for Road Rally spec cars has sparked a lot of interest, with the likes of Graham Thatcher/Tim Samuels (Peugeot 206) and the Escort Mk2 duo of Ricky Crone/Daniel James and Rob Wood/Osian Davies battling for early class honours.

     

    Such is the inclusive class structure of this year’s Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship that a driver and co-driver are likely to be eligible for multiple awards. David and Toby Brick are a great example of this, as the giant-killing Vauxhall Nova crew will be battling for honours in the Overall, RAVENOL UK Welsh Challenge, Two-Wheel Drive and Over 50s categories!

     

    “What a fantastic Nicky Grist Stages we have in prospect,” says Dave Evison, Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship Secretary.

     

    “With just a few days to go, perhaps it’s time to reflect on the massive undertaking by all stakeholders involved in making this happen. Events of this stature under normal circumstances take up to eighteen months to organise. Add in a pandemic, and the timeframe is the same, but the commitment required over the same period is immeasurable.

     

    “The rally fraternity, though, has responded as only they can with a fantastic entry received in an unbelievable fifteen minutes.

     

    “Event organisers want entries in quality and quantity – they have it! Competitors want competition – they have it! They want fantastic roads – they have them! I can’t wait to see the outcome.”

     

    The Nicky Grist Stages contains 44 stage miles spread over eight stages – with a loop of four gravel tests through Llyn Login, Monument, Halfway and Crychan forests in the morning and repeated in the afternoon following a midday service halt at the Royal Welsh Showground in Llanelwedd.

     

    Spectators are not permitted to watch in any of the stages nor the service area. Instead, the Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship will broadcast live from the event on its Facebook page. Experienced motorsport broadcaster Sideways Media will be filming the action, with driver interviews and expert analysis from Howard Davies and Eifion Jones.

     

    After each round, a 30 minute edited highlights package will be produced, dedicated to the Welsh National Rally Championship runners, and broadcast on the Championship’s Facebook and YouTube channels.

     

    The Plains Rally, which was scheduled to take place on Saturday 14 August, has been cancelled – meaning that the 2021 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Championship will now consist of five rounds, with the best four scores to count. Round 2 will now be the Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages on Saturday, 4 September.

     

    Further details on the 2021 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship, together with registration information, can be found online at: wnrc.wamc.org.uk

     

    2021 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship calendar

    10 July….Nicky Grist Stages

    4 September….Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages

    16 October….Winner Garage ŠKODA Wyedean Rally

    30 October….Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally

    13 November….Rallynuts Stages Rally




     

  • Record-breaking pre-season entry for the Championship


     
    Record-breaking pre-season entry for the Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship
     
    This year’s Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship has received a record-breaking number of pre-season registrations – with 155 competitors already lined up to contest the six gravel round series in 2021.
     
    There is a strong entry in all 14 classes, including the Juniors (with a top prize of a test in a PCRS Rallysport-prepared Hyundai i20 R5, courtesy of OnThePaceNote) and the Restruct sponsored Two-Wheel Drive category. The battle for the overall title is poised to be more intense than ever, with 31 powerful W13 class (formerly B13) four-wheel drive cars and six W14 class (WRC/R5/S2000/RCC) cars registered.
     
    The RAVENOL Welsh Challenge, which recognises the performance of competitors who have yet to finish in the top 10 overall of a Championship round, remains popular with over 50 crews registered.
     
    The opening round of the 2021 Welsh National Rally Championship is the Nicky Grist Stages on Saturday 10 July, where over 80 registered drivers have had their entries accepted.
     
    Dave Evison, Welsh National Rally Championship Secretary since 2010, says that the currently level of interest is the result of many years of work to develop the series.
     
    “We’ve seen the Welsh National Rally Championship grow year on year from around thirty two registrations a decade ago to well over a hundred now,” says Dave.
     
    “In 2020 Will Rogers joined the team as we looked forward to raising the Championship profile further and it’s all thanks to the hard work of the Welsh Association of Motor Clubs, the individual events and the support we’ve received the from our long term sponsors Pirelli and RAVENOL UK.
     
    “Over sixty per cent of this year’s pre-season registrations are from returning competitors, which is very pleasing because it shows that we are doing a lot of things right because the competitors have enjoyed the Championship so much that they’ve come back for more. We’re also delighted to see so many new competitors come to the series this year, all of whom have been attracted by the fantastic calendar of events, incentives and the class structure – not least our very buoyant two-wheel drive and junior categories, plus the new road rally class.
     
    “To see so many competitors registered before the first round, and eighty-four Welsh National Rally Championship registered crews with their entries accepted for the Nicky Grist Stages, is unprecedented. We used to get excited and were very pleased when we had fifty crews contesting a rally, so we are confident that this year’s competition will be the best ever. And given the rich history of the Welsh National Rally Championship, that is really saying something.”
     
    Some of the drivers registered for this year’s Welsh National Rally Championship include four former champions – Matthew Hirst (Mitsubishi Evo 9), Callum Black (Ford Fiesta R5), Dylan Davies (Škoda Fabia R5) and Paul Walker (Subaru Impreza).


     
    Also registered is the winner of last December’s Rali Adfer Coedwigoedd Cymru test event and maximum Welsh National Rally Championship points scorer on the 2020 Cambrian Rally, Ian Bainbridge (Škoda Fabia R5), 2019 runner-up Russ Thompson (Mitsubishi Evo 9), Wug Utting (Subaru Impreza STi N12B), Nik Elsmore (Mitsubishi Evo 9), Bob Morgan (Škoda Fabia), David Tomlin (Ford Fiesta R5), Martyn England (who has swapped his Ford Fiesta R5+ for a Mitsubishi Evo 10) and the 2019 Junior champion, Tom Llewellin (who returns in a Mitsubishi Mirage R5).
     
    There is a strong contingent of two-wheel drive competitors, with Nick Elliott, Ben Friend, Rob Dennis, Pete Littler, Gavin Edwards, Owen McMackin, Philip Clarke, and Jonathan Brace, to name a few, driving Escort Mk2s, while Andrew Davison (Talbot Sunbeam), David Jones (BMW E30), Alan Desbois (Peugeot 306 RWD), Kevin Metcalfe (BMW E30) and Gary Smith (Ford Escort Mk1) are also on the list, while Road Rally experts Ricky Crone and Robi Wood join for the first time.
     
    The Welsh National Rally Championship has received 13 entries from Ireland, including the exciting Frank Kelly, Paul Barrett, Andrew Bustard and David Crossen who will all drive Escort Mk2s. There are also two registrations from the Isle of Man – Max Bradshaw (Mitsubishi Evo) and Steven Ormond-Smith (Mitsubishi Evo IX).
     
    There are plenty of quality drivers in other classes too – including Juniors George Lepley (Mitsubishi Evo 10), Ioan Lloyd (Peugeot 208 R2) and Zak Hughes (Renualt Twingo) – who will be looking to improve on his second place finish in the Juniors in 2019. Dave Brick is also back and aiming for more giant-killing performances on his Vauxhall Nova.
     
    The co-driver registrations are also brimming with experience and talent. Declan Dear, the 2019 champion, is returning, as it Andy Murphy who narrowly missed out on winning the title last time out. Multiple champion Andy Marchbank returns, as does Paul Spooner, Mark Glennerster, Dawn England, Craig Drew, Cliff Simmons, Steve McPhee, Andrew Sankey, Dave Price and many more.
     
    Further details on the 2021 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship, together with registration information, can be found online at: wnrc.wamc.org.uk.
     
    2021 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship calendar
    10 July….Nicky Grist Stages
    14 August….Plains Rally
    4 September…. Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages
    16 October…. Winner Garage ŠKODA Wyedean Rally
    30 October….Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally
    13 November….Rallynuts Stages Rally
     



    For more information, please contact:
    Paul Evans
    07710 743167 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


    Picture captions
    Top: Matt Hirst/Declan Dear, 2019 Pirelli Welsh National Rally champions (Mitsubishi Evo 9). Picture by Chris Huish.

    Middle left: Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy, 2019 Pirelli Welsh National Rally runners-up (Mitsubishi Evo 9). Picture by Paul Mitchell.
     
    Middle right: Nicky Grist Stages podium: 1st Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy;
    2nd Matt Hirst/Declan Dear; 3rd Andrew Davison/Tom Murphy (Talbot Sunbeam) – all three crews are returning to the Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship in 2021. Picture by Paul Mitchell.

    Bottom left: Dylan Davies/Mark Glennerster testing their Škoda Fabia R5.
     
    Bottom right: Paul Walker/Geraint Thomas testing their Subaru Impreza.