The Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages saw the battle for maximum Championship points in the Pirelli Motorsport UK Welsh Forest Rally Championship go right down to the final stage. The outcome also means that the overall drivers’ title, along with many of the other Championship awards, will not be decided until November and the final round of the series, the Wyedean Stages Rally.
With competitors heading out from Ludlow Racecourse to tackle five special stages, it was a short-lived event for Championship contenders Matt Hirst and Declan Dear, their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX succumbing to engine problems on the opening stage.
As the cars emerged from that opening stage it was Scott Faulkner and Gareth Parry who led the way ahead of Russ Thompson and Andy Murphy, with Richard Hill and Steffan Evans third among the Championship runners.
When the cars returned to service after two stages, Thompson and Murphy had moved ahead of fellow Evo IX runners Faulkner and Parry with Hill and Evans still third in their Subaru Impreza. Faulkner and Parry were quickest on stage three by a single second, but Thompson and Murphy retained their lead.
Another quick run through stage four saw Faulkner and Parry head into the final test in Radnor Forest with a three second advantage. A spin for them on that stage, however, meant that when the cars returned to the finish at the Racecourse it was Thompson and Murphy who took the win by 13 seconds, Hill and Evans finishing in third place behind Faulkner and Parry.
The overall Championship points table for drivers still shows Tom Llewellin with the highest points tally in his Mark II Ford Escort but, with competitors only allowed to count their top six scores from the eight Championship rounds, the amended totals show Thompson with a fifteen point lead over Llewellin while Hirst and Faulkner third and fourth respectively. As a result of this, Russ Thompson and Andy Murphy win the free entry on Wales Rally GB National Rally, provided by Motorsport UK as part of their Road to Wales initiative.
While Tom Llewellin cannot now catch Thompson, both Hirst and Faulkner can still do so depending on the outcome of the Wyedean Rally.
Tom Llewellin may have lost the opportunity to take the outright title but there was no small consolation for the youngster as he secured the overall two wheel drive title, sponsored by lightninghouse.co.uk to add to the junior title, backed by onthepacenote.co.uk and the RAVENOL Welsh Challenge for drivers, which he had already claimed. With his two-wheel drive victory comes a made-to-measure HRX Tutor race suit provided by lightninghouse.co.uk.
The overall co-drivers’ title is now a three-way fight between Andy Murphy, Declan Dear and Gareth Parry while in Group N, the drivers’ title is a straight two-way fight between the current points leader Wug Utting in his Subaru Impreza and second placed Russ Thomson with their respective co-drivers, Bob Stokoe and Andy Murphy
While Tom Llewellin has secured the overall two-wheel drive award, the separate awards for front and rear wheel drive have still to be resolved. Among the co-drivers in two-wheel drive cars, just six points separate Tom Murphy and Jim Lewis with the destination of the HRX race suit that comes with that title still to be settled.
The fight for runners up spot among the junior drivers is a close one with just a single point separating Zak Hughes and Gethin Price. Tom Murphy holds a fourteen point lead in the junior co-drivers’ standings but three others still hold at least a mathematical chance of taking the title.
Andy Fox or Josh Taylor could still claim the runner up spot in the RAVENOL Welsh Challenge and while the Woodpecker saw Tom Murphy clinch the RAVENOL Welsh Challenge for co-drivers there are six other co-drivers who could yet finish as runner-up to him.
The final round of the Pirelli Motorsport UK Welsh Forest Rally Championship is the Wyedean Stages Rally on November 9th. There is more information about that event of the official web site, wyedeanstages.co.uk and about the Championship on wnrc.wamc.org.uk, on the Championship Facebook page and on Twitter, @WnRC.
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Issued by Peter Hughes Media on behalf of the Pirelli Motorsport UK Welsh Forest Rally Championship