Saturday’s Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages is the penultimate round of the Pirelli MSA Welsh Rally Championship with the fight for the title going to the final round, the Wyedean Stages on 10 November, writes Peter Hughes.
The destination of at least one major award will be settled on this event, as the driver leading the series at the end of the rally will receive a free entry to Wales Rally GB, which takes place from 4-7 October.
The award is provided by IMS, the promoters of the World Rally Championship, as part of their Road to Wales initiative and going into today’s event, no fewer than nine drivers retain at least a mathematical chance of taking the lucrative prize. The same nine drivers could also yet be crowned Welsh champion.
Two drivers are currently tied at the top of the Championship standings with Llanon’s Dylan Davies and Surrey driver Wug Utting (above) both on 107 points. Their respective co-drivers, Llion Williams and Bob Stokoe also share the lead in their Championship category.
Utting and Stokoe also top the Group N standings for less modified cars ahead of Ron Hall and Phil Spilsted.
Third among the drivers is Llysfaen’s Matt Edwards (right). The British Rally Championship front-runner is 11 points back but has taken maximum points on three out of the four championship rounds that he has so far contested.
With competitors dropping their two worst scores, Matt and co-driver Darren Garrod remain well in contention.
Fourth place is held by Matthew Hirst and the Doncaster driver also leads the under 23 category, eight points clear of Treorchy’s Kalvin Green. Welshpool’s Zak Hughes holds third place in the junior category.
|Lying fifth overall, Max Utting also tops the two-wheel drive category. In his front wheel drive Ford Fiesta, Max currently heads the ranks of rear wheel drive machinery, among them the BMW Compact of Hereford’s Colin Griffiths and Barry Jordan’s Avenger.
Llangefni’s Keith Parry holds sixth place overall ahead of former Champion Luke Francis while Scott Faulkner and Osian Pryce also remain in contention for top honours.
The innovative RAVENOL Welsh Challenge recognises the performance of competitors who have yet to finish in the top 10 overall of a Championship round. With prizes worth more than £3000 available, it too is being fiercely contested. Max Utting leads the driver standings from Matthew Hirst with Colin Griffiths in third place.
Declan Dear leads the RAVENOL Welsh Challenge for co-drivers from Mike Ainsworth and Geraint Thomas.
|Competitors on the event, organised by Sixty and Worcestershire Motor Club, will cross the start ramp at Ludlow Racecourse from 08:31 on Saturday morning, returning there from 16:45. Spectators are welcome at two locations, Haye Park near Ludlow and Radnor Forest in mid Wales. Access to the spectator car parks costs £10 per car and includes a Programme and Entry List.
The Haye Park car park entrance is on the minor road between Ludlow and Wigmore (OS Map 137 / 474732, post code SY8 2HE). Catering, toilet facilities and a commentary will be available. The cars visit twice, with first car due for SS1 at 08:45 and first car due for SS4 at 12:45. Please arrive and leave the car park from the Ludlow direction NOT via the Wigmore road.
The Radnor Forest car park entrance is on the A488 between Knighton and Penybont (OS Map 148 / 189683, nearest post code LD7 1PA). Parking is on forest tracks. The cars visit Radnor Forest twice, with first car due for SS3 at 10:20 and first car due for SS6 at 15:05
The Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages Rally was chosen as the best event in the 2017 Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship and, with so much still to be settled in 2018 including the destination of many of the class awards, a strong contingent of Championship contenders are once again relishing an epic battle.
Copyright images by RallySport Media.