Motorsport UK Pirelli Ravenol Welsh Rally Championship 

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  • 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 Å koda 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 Å koda 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 (Å koda 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 Å koda 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 Å koda 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 Å koda 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. 

     


     

  • Hirst Targets Four Championship Wins in a Row


     
    Matthew Hirst will be targeting his fourth straight 2022 Motorsport UK Pirelli Ravenol Welsh Rally Championship win when he contests the Nicky Grist Stages on Saturday 9 July in his Pirelli-shod Delta Salvage Ford Fiesta R5+.
     
    Co-driven by Declan Dear, Matthew became the first driver since Callum Black in 2017 to win three Welsh Championship rallies in a row when he won the Plains Rally last time out - and if he wins again he will be the first driver to win four in a row since Luke Francis in 2016. Both Callum and Luke went on to win the Welsh title in those years!
     
    "The Nicky Grist Stages is one of the events which we look forward to each year," says Matthew. 
     
    "The pace at the front of the field just seems to get quicker every year. I'd put this down to the fact that the route doesn't generally alter dramatically year-on-year, typically with just small changes here and there. That allows you to build confidence with the pace notes and generally gives a good feeling to the pre-event preparations. 
     
    "It's also the only time to compare the Pirelli Ravenol Welsh Rally Championship pace against the BRC which is an interesting opportunity, albeit on the proviso that they have had the opportunity to recce the stages beforehand. It's always good to get the excuses out early!
     
    "This will be the fifth time that we have entered the event and upon reflection we have yet to have a proper clean run. In the last three starts, we have had mechanical problems with a broken driveshaft, broken gear-lever and collapsed steering column. 
     
    "Hopefully we can get through this year with no dramas!"
     
    James Giddings finished second last time out in his Group N Fordpad Mitsubishi Evo 9 to shoot up the points table and become a real title contender. Co-driven this time by Lee Taylor, the former Fiesta ST Trophy and Citroën C2 Challenge champion has taken very little time to get used to his new car and will be one of many trying to stop Hirst's winning run. 
     
    Bob Morgan/Ade Williams are also having a fantastic season in their Winner Garage Å koda Fabia R5+. They lead the Ravenol Challenge and arrive at the Nicky Grist Stages as the top-placed Å koda crew.


     
    We've not seen the best of Dylan Davies yet this year. He's had a troubled start to the season, and that will make the 2019 Welsh champion all the more determined to score maximum points as he and co-driver Mark Glennerster contest the event in their Å koda Fabia R5+.
     
    Another former champion Bob Ceen, who won the title in 2001 and 2015, arrives in Builth Wells on top form having scored a fifth-place Welsh Championship points finish last time out on the Plains. He and co-driver Shaun Layland know the classic mid-Wales forests well and will have their sights set on another strong performance in their 'National spec' Ford Fiesta R5.

    Bob's brother Richard Ceen (co-driven by Alun Hayward) hopes to have finally sorted out the sensor gremlins which have ruined many a good stage performance this year in his Ford Focus WRC05. 
     
    Meanwhile, Richard's son Benj Ceen will be aiming to return to his fantastic early season form, as the former Renault/Alpine Formula 1 test engineer and co-driver Caron Tomlinson contest the event in their MSL-prepared Ford Fiesta R5.
     
    Perry Gardener/Jack Bowen scored a Welsh podium finish on the Rallynuts Stages and will be challenging for maximum points again in their Ford Fiesta R5+, while Tom Llewellin/Ross Whittock appear in a Brace's Bakery-backed Ford Fiesta R5, having switched from a Mitsubishi Mirage.
     
    Russ Thompson makes his second appearance of the year after recording an excellent fourth-placed points finish on the Rallynuts Stages. Co-driven by Stephen Link, another good result in his Dunnow Plant-backed Mitsubishi Evo 9 could bring the 2019 Welsh Championship runner-up right back into contention for the 2022 title.
     
    Having sorted out a few reliability issues with his Mitsubishi Evo 6, Simon Rogers enjoyed a much better run on the Plains. Co-driven by James How, he'll be hoping that it continues on the Nicky Grist Stages - while Phil Price Rally School owner John Caine returns in his Subaru Impreza and, co-driven by Andrew Sankey, will be aiming for a strong top 10 finish and more Ravenol Welsh Challenge points.
     
    Class 13 leader Paul Walker is enjoying a great season and will be out again with Geraint Thomas in his Green Paw Subaru Impreza, while Wug Utting/Bob Stokoe will also be pushing hard in their Geoff Jones Motorsport-prepared Subaru Impreza N12b.

     
    Last year's Nicky Grist Stages saw the return of Nik Elsmore, who was contesting his first rally for over six years and only his third rally in 12 years. He's done very little since, but it's great to see him and co-driver Craig Drew back in their Mitsubishi Evo IX and preparing to blow the cobwebs away in their characteristic hard-charging style.
     
    Frazer Martin/Dylan Bargate will contest the event in their Mitsubishi Evo 6, Lewers Firth/Shaun Lapper are back in their Firth Construction Subaru Impreza, Rob and Ashley Aslett wheel out their Subaru Impreza, as do Martyn Andrews/Steve Greenhill, Steven Ormond-Smith/Simon Jones and Geoff Cottrill/Nathan Crewe both appear in Mitsubishi Evo 9s, while Dave Tomlin/Keith Ashley will be hoping for a much-needed change of fortune in their Axon Ford Fiesta R5.
     
    Having scored two wins from three starts, Boyd Kershaw/Keegan Rees lead the Welsh 2WD class in their Flying Kiwi Escort Mk2. They really are enjoying a sensational season in the black Ford and will be aiming for a class hat-trick this time out. 

     

    Kevin Metcalfe (who also leads class W12) is just five points behind in his 3-litre BMW E30 and together with Ian Jones is always great to watch. And to illustrate how diverse the 2WD category is, Matthew Jackson arrives third in class in his MJ Rallying Ford Fiesta R2T. Partnered by Sasha Heriot (who is second in the co-drivers' standings), Jackson also leads class W4.
     
    Ashley Davies/Sam Fordham remain Welsh 2WD title contenders. Having won the class on the Rallynuts and finished second on Rally North Wales, another strong run in their Burton Power/G&B Finch/Deranged Trucks Ford Escort RS could put them right back into title contention - and with five scores from seven counting towards the end of season points total, they hope to be able to drop the low score they received after retiring on the Plains.




     
    Also ready to score big in the 2WD category are Philip Jones/Ryan Griffiths (Ford Escort), Andrew Fox/Jaime-Lee Fox (Xwatch Safety Solutions BMW 325), Michael Sawyer/Gareth Price (2350cc Datsun 1600) Geoffrey Phelps/Colin Jenkins (Hartpury Farms Escort Mk2), Matthew Honeyborne/James Curtis (BMW 328 Coupe), Tim Jones/Liam Whiteley (Ford Escort Mk2), Clive Price/John Fellowes (BMW Compact), Alun Horn/Ian Beamond (Ford Escort Mk2), Colin Griffiths/Lucy Wilding (BMW Compact), Richard Warne/Chris Deal (Escort Mk2), David Jones/Glyn Price (BMW E30) and Tim Phelps/Elwyn Manuel who return in their Britpart Ford Escort Mk2.
     
    The battle for the OnThePaceNote.co.uk supported Welsh Junior title is hotting up nicely, with seven under 25-year old drivers aiming for the coveted trophy. Two wins and a second sees Liam Griffiths in the lead and the Presteigne youngsters will be hoping to continue that good run when he and co-driver Daniel James take to the mid-Wales forests in their Discover Parks Ford Fiesta ST.
     
    Liam's brother Callum, co-driven by William Lewis, will be a tough competitor in his Presteigne Tyre Services Ford Fiesta ST, as will the rapid James Lepley/Arwel Jenkins in their Escort Mk2.
     
    Robert Wilson won the Junior category on the Rallynuts, which was his first event in his Ravenol Mitsubishi Evo 7 - and he and co-driver Richard Crozier will be aiming for maximum points this time again.


     
    Rudi Lancaster has the opportunity to take the Historic class W8 lead. Co-driven by Guy Weaver, he's already scored three very good results in his Woolacombe Holiday Parks Escort RS1800 Mk2 and a first or second would give him the outright class lead.

     
    However, victory could also give the defending class W8 champions Paul Street/Ian Jones the lead as they aim for top points in their PJS Marine Escort RS1800 Mk2.

     

     
    Nick Elliott has been super-fast this year, although an engine issue on the Plains Rally has dropped him to fourth in the table. But with it fixed, he and co-driver Dave Price should be right back challenging for class victory in their Fiat Abarth 131.


    Jonathan Brace has been the fastest Escort Mk1 driver all season and despite a power disadvantage is fifth in class W8. Reunited with co-driver Paul Spooner, who was away on holiday when the Plains took place, Jonathan will be out to impress in his Brace's Bakery RS1600. 
     
    Robert Gough scored his best result of the season last time out and together with Sam Collis will be aiming to keep up that momentum going in their Ford Escort RS1800 Mk2.
     
    Andrew Stokes/Jonny Tad Evans will be aiming for their fourth straight points-finish in their Ford Escort Mk1, as they start the event seventh in class, one point ahead of Roger Chilman/Patrick Walsh (Wales Motorsport-prepared Securcom Escort Mk2) and Michael McDaid/Declan Casey (McDaid Pharmacy Escort RS1800 Mk2). 
     
    Also aiming for class W8 points are Ben Friend/Cliffy Simmons (Allglass Escort Mk2), Will Onions/Dave Williams (Capital Motorsport Ford Escort Mk2), Pete Littler/Andy Marchbank (RED Preparation & Fabrication/Select Security Ford Escort RS1800 Mk2), Philip Clarke/Richard Bonner (Escort Mk2), Ron Morgan/Marc Clatworthy (Wales Motorsport-prepared Restruct Escort Mk2) and Owen McMackin/Sean Ferris in their BJT Hire Centre Escort Mk2.



     
    Neal James/Kevin Jones have a healthy lead in the Historic W7 class after three second-place finishes in their Cwm Engineering Ford Escort Mk2. They'll continue to be pushed hard by second-placed David Lloyd Roberts/Gerallt Davies, who have won twice in their Escort Mk2, and Ben Smith/Stephen Smith who took victory on the opening round in their Escort Mk2. Peter Hinton/Lewis Sim (Escort Mk2) and Gareth Lewis/Ryland James (Escort RS2000 Mk1) are also out.


     
    Julian Birley/Emyr Hall lead the Historic W6 class after taking two wins from two starts in their Talbot Sunbeam Ti 1600. Welsh Junior driver Rory McCann, co-driven by his father Paul, is second in class in his Metalways Hillman Avenger.
     
    Chris Squires/Shaun Hughes, who celebrated contesting their first gravel rally with class W6 victory on the Rallynuts, are back in their Trevor Morris Engines Ford Escort Mk2, while Mark Tugwell/Steve Pugh (Lotus Twin Cam engines Metalways Ford Escort Mk1) and Malcolm Bayliss/Siobhan Pugh (16BAO Rally Team Ford Escort Mk1) will be aiming for top points as well.
     
    In addition to valuable points, the top three finishes in each historic class will automatically be put forward for the end-of-season David Stokes Historic Challenge award for drivers and the Guy Weaver award for co-drivers.
     
    James Dunkley has a great opportunity to take the class W2 lead when he and co-driver Dan Sayce contest the event in their Opel Corsa.
     
    Gethin Price will be aiming to make a dent in Hefin Lloyd-Davies's class W3 lead as he and co-driver Matthew Baddeley contest the event in their Keith Price Haulage Nissan Micra. They'll be battling for maximum class points with Adrian and Matthew Walk (PartBOX Ford Ka) and brothers Freddy and Toby Brick (Opel Corsa).
     
    Matthew Jackson may have a good lead in class W4, but he'll have to be on his best again as Jonathan Jones/Jez Rogers (EDSL Sport-run Ingospec Ford Fiesta), Tony Simpson/Ian Bevan (Seacon UK/Kielder Tools Ford Fiesta R2T) and Yaniv Bar/Osian Owen (Ptravel Club Ford Fiesta R2) challenge for maximum points.

     
    Brynli Thomas leads the Road Rally class and together with co-driver Sion Rowlands will be aiming to extend his lead in his Peugeot 306 Rallye. Aiming to stop them will be the earlier leaders of the W5 class, Graham Thatcher/Tim Samuel in their Pembridge Vehicle Management Peugeot 206 GTi.

     
    Martin Walters/Marie Fletcher aim to strengthen their healthy class W10 lead in their high-revving yellow Honda Civic. Dan Jones led the class after the opening round and will want to return to the top step on the class W10 podium when he and Cyril Jones tackle the event in their Jones Brothers/Bradley Motorsport Vauxhall Nova. Aiming for their first finish of the season will Alan Desbois/Peter Littlefield (Peugeot 306 RWD) and Michael Jenkins/Scott Dance (Peugeot 205).
     
    The Welsh Championship's live streaming service will be even bigger and better on the Nicky Grist Stages, with even more action and interviews. Howard Davies will commentate on the live stage action and will also roam with a camera and microphone around midday service, interviewing Welsh Championship drivers and co-drivers. Everything will be broadcast live on: facebook.com/WELSHRALLYCHAMPIONSHIP.
     
    Organised by Quinton Motor Club, the 2022 Nicky Grist Stages will start from Strand Street in the centre of Builth Wells at 08.31. After a loop of stages through Llyn Login, Monument, Halfway and Crychan forests, cars will return for a midday service on the Builth Wells RFC pitch before a repeat run over the stages. After all eight stages and 45 stage miles have been completed, the podium ceremony will take place in Groe Park at 15.30, with the River Wye and the landmark 18th Century bridge in the background.

    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


    For more information please contact: 
    Dave Evison
    Secretary, Motorsport UK Pirelli Ravenol Welsh Rally Championship 
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
     
    Paul Evans
    Press Officer, Motorsport UK Pirelli Ravenol Welsh Rally Championship 
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
     

    Picture captions - top left to bottom right
    Matthew Hirst/Declan Dear (Ford Fiesta R5+)
    Bob Ceen/Shaun Layland (Ford Fiesta R5)
    Bob Morgan/Ade Williams (Å koda Fabia R5+)
    Paul Walker/Geraint Thomas (Subaru Impreza)
    Nick Elliott/Peredur Davies (Fiat Abarth 131)
    Rudi Lancester/Guy Weaver (Ford Escort Mk2)
    Peter Hinton/Lewis Sim (Escort Mk2) 
    Ashley Davies/Sam Fordham (Ford Escort Mk2)
    Ron Morgan/Marc Clatworthy (Ford Escort Mk2) 
    Matthew Jackson/Sasha Heriot (Ford Fiesta R2T) 
    Boyd Kershaw/Keegan Rees (Ford Escort)
    Freddy Brick/Toby Brick (Opel Corsa) 
    Paul Street/Ian Jones (Ford Escort Mk2) 
    Neal James/Kevin Jones (Ford Escort Mk2) 
    Rob Wilson/Richard Crozier (Mitsubishi Evo 7) 
    Brynli Thomas/Steve Griffiths (Peugeot 306 Rallye) 


    Pictures courtesy of Paul Mitchell. Please credit 'Paul Mitchell Photography' if used.
    paulmitchellphotography@gmail.com

     


     

  • 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 (Å koda 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 Å koda 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 Å KODA Wyedean Rally

    30 October.......Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally

    13 November.......Rallynuts Stages Rally