The result lifts Edwards to second in the championship standings behind Dylan Davies, who decided to miss this round.
Some overnight rain eased dust concerns and led to almost perfect conditions as 117 competitors left the Welshpool start to visit four stages in Dyfnant and Garth before a lunch break in Dolgellau followed by a repeat of the mornings tests.
Matt Edwards, Llysfaen, with Co-driver Darron Garrod, Pwllheli, set fastest times on seven of the eight tests. It did not all go to plan, however, on the opening test a puncture resulted in a destroyed wheel which left Edwards in thirteenth place, 28 seconds off the lead.
The lead was held by Rhuddlan’s Luke Francis, who with Co-Driver John H Roberts, Colwyn Bay, had stormed through the first test in their Fiesta WRC. Francis held onto that lead until just after the rest halt. Edwards, though, was on a charge and claimed the lead on the second test of the afternoon run and then went on to win by a margin of twenty seconds.
Meanwhile the remaining podium place was keenly contested between Bury’s Tom Naughton Mitsubishi Evo 10 and the Volvo powered Escort of Ffestiniog’s Ieu Rowlands. Tom Naughton and Co Driver Will Rogers held the upper hand into the lunch halt but on the opening afternoon test the pair rolled heavily near the stage finish stopping the stage.
Ieu Rowlands and Co Driver, Emyr Hall, Bala, who had been in the top four all day were now third whilst Llangefni’s Keith Parry and Co Driver Eryl Evans, Lampeter, pushed their Subaru through the final test to finish fourth, just one second ahead of the Mk 2 Escort of Nick Elliott and Dave Price. The result lifts Parry into third place in the championship standing on equal points with Doncaster’s Matthew Hirst.
Hirst, who had rolled his Mitsubishi Evo 9 out of contention on the previous round, was more than happy with his days’ work and together with Co-Driver Declan Dear, the pair have now built a seven point lead in the RAVENOL Welsh Challenge which is aimed at drivers who have not previously claimed a top 10 finish. Colin Griffiths, Worcester, lies in second place whilst Surrey’s Max Utting is third.
In the Group N category for less modified cars, Kalvin Green, Treorchy, has seen a consistent run of results in his Fiesta ST lift him to the top of the standings, ahead of the more powerful Subaru of Surrey’s Wug Utting who has one less score.
On the day Scott Faulkner, Solihull, together with new Co Driver Gareth Parry, Aberystwyth, took maximum points and at the finish declared himself very happy with the car’s set up. Championship regulars Tom Naughton, Bury, and Co driver Will Rogers, Ross, were heading the standings until a very heavy roll on the fifth test resulted in Tom Naughton needing medical assistance.
Kalvin Green’s consistency means he leads the Junior category as well though Matthew Hirst claimed his third maximum score on the Plains. In the Co-drivers, Osian Owen, Rhyl, heads Ludlow’s Keaton Williams.
The very well supported Two Wheel Drive category has seen four different drivers take maximum points on the opening four rounds. This time it was the turn of Ffestiniog’s Ieu Rowlands and Emyr Hall to take top score. Meanwhile it was Surrey’s Max Utting and Co-Driver Mike Ainsworth who now head the category standing. Their front wheel drive Fiesta ST heads an impressive line-up of rear wheel drive machinery. Colin Griffiths is on equal points in his BMW whilst an impressive list of Escorts includes Rob Dennis, Owen McMackin, John Rowlands, Nick Elliot and Ieu Rowlands will see this category “go to the wire”. Rudi Lancaster, Woolacombe, with Guy Weaver, Wolverhampton, also put down a marker taking fourth in the category on the day.
Meanwhile in the RAVENOL Freelander Category, Alex Howard, Colchester, with George Fleming, Chelmsford, have enjoyed some excellent results and tops the category from Ian Linford Stevenage, who together with Demelza Scholes, achieved their first finish on the Plains.
The next round of the Pirelli MSA Welsh Rally Championship is the Red Kite Stages and the Neath based event, organised by Amman and District Motor Club, takes place on Sunday 24 June.
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