by Peter Hughes
The Plains Rally saw nearly 50 crews battling it out for points in the Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship and after six challenging forest stages it was Ruthin driver Hugh Hunter who claimed maximum points for the second time this season.
Hunter and co-driver Andy Marchbank, from Little Sutton (above) took the lead on the opening stage of the event in their Subaru Impreza World Rally Car ahead of the Mitsubishi Evo 9 of Rhuddlan driver Luke Francis, teamed up as ever with Colwyn Bay’s John H Roberts.
Ellistown driver Jamie Anderson took an early third place in his Mitsubishi World Rally Car while championship leader Bob Ceen, from Malvern and Birmingham based co-driver Andy Bull slid their Subaru off the road and into retirement on stage 2.
There were early problems too for the Ravenol Rally Team Impreza of Jim McNeil, the Leeds driver reporting a loose turbo pipe on the opening stage. Ieuan Rowlands meanwhile, managed to tip his Ford Escort early on, the Ffestiniog driver’s first roll in 17 years of rallying.
Despite picking up a puncture on stage 4, Hunter was able to hang on to the lead all the way to the finish while Jamie Anderson moved ahead of Luke Francis after three stages.
Francis had his own drama when a stray branch knocked off the emergency engine cut off switch on his Mitsubishi but managed to hang on to third place.
With Llanon’s Dylan Davies and co-driver Llion Williams of Caernarfon taking fourth spot in their Subaru, the top five was completed by Worcester pairing Paul Davy and Roger Allan in their near showroom specification Group N Subaru Impreza., the duo also taking a class win.
Second in Group N went to Haverfordwest driver Roland Llewellin partnered in his Mitsubishi by Wrexham’s Jamie Edwards while Simon Dalton of Hereford claimed third in his Impreza.
The top five finish for Davy and Allan was enough to give them their respective overall championship leads as well as Group N while Hugh Hunter’s win moves him and Andy Marchbank to second place overall, erstwhile series leader Bob Ceen slipping to third place. Llion Williams hold third place in the overall co-driver standings.
Second in Group N is held by Roland Llewellin and Jamie Edwards while Jamie Jukes of Llandysul holds on to the lead in the two wheel drive category despite retiring his Suzuki Swift with a broken wheel on stage 4.
Derry’s Jordan Horne topped the junior category for drivers under 25 on the rally but Pontyclun’s Morgan Handford reclaims the series lead that he conceded on the previous round from the absent Meirion Evans of Llanwrda.
Penmachno co-driver Caron Tomlinson holds the lead in their Junior category while Freddie Brick of Hereford moves into second place ahead of Hengoed’s Ryan Jones.
Paul Davy continues to lead the lucrative Ravenol Welsh Championship from Ellesmere’s John Baker. Hugh Hunter, Jamie Jukes and David L Roberts of Corwen are in a three way tie for third place.
The next round of the Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship is the Severn Valley Stages. Based in Builth Wells, the event takes place on 30 May.