Luke Francis took maximum points on Saturday’s Plains Rally to claim the lead at the mid-way point of the 2016 Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship.
There was disappointment, meanwhile for early season leader and junior front-runner Andrew Jones.
With the Welshpool based event run in glorious sunshine, Rhuddlan driver Francis and co-driver John H Roberts, from Colwyn Bay, outpaced their Championship rivals on the first of the rally’s seven stages to establish an advantage that the Mitsubishi Evo 9 crew would not surrender all day.
In contrast, Jones and co-driver David Iwan Jones suffered a puncture on the first hairpin of the opening Gartheiniog stage and were forced to retire on stage 2, Dyfi East.
The main opposition to Francis and Roberts came from the S2000 specification Ford Fiesta of Manchester’s Steve Simpson and Swindon co-driver Mark Glennerster who would survive a puncture on the final stage, Pantperthog, to take second place points and move up to sixth in the overall championship standings.
Andy Davies and Max Freeman took their Subaru Impreza to third place among the Championship contenders as well as winning the Group N category for less modified cars. The pairing move up to second place in the overall standings and lead Group N. Paul Davy and Roger Allan recorded their first finish since the season opening Cambrian Rally. The Worcestershire duo are second in Group N.
Despite his non-finish, Andrew Jones continues to lead the Vital Equipment Junior Welsh Championship for drivers as well as the two wheel drive category. James Williams took top junior driver honours on the event and lies second in the championship standings ahead of Jake McKenna. Ulster’s Jordan and Paul Hone meanwhile retired their Proton Satria on Stage 4. Top junior co-driver is Max Freeman.
Top two wheel drive placing on the event went to flying Kiwi Boyd Kershaw, earning the Escort driver a £150 prize courtesy of Genpower and moving him in to third place in the two wheel drive championship standings (left).
Second in the standings and on the event went to another Escort driver, John Rowlands but there was disappointment for Ieuan Rowlands when he was forced to retire after shearing the wheel studs on his Ford Escort on the second stage of the rally.
There was a shake-up in the standings for the £3000 Ravenol Welsh Challenge, based on the competitors’ performance within class. Just five points separate the top five drivers with Luke Francis moving into the lead ahead of John Rowlands. Jake McKenna and Boyd Kershaw are tied for third place with Andy Davies completing the top 5.
The next round of the championship is the Rallynuts Motorsport Severn Valley Stages on 4 June, based in Builth Wells and organised by Midland Manor Motor Club. You can find out more about that event on their website and about the championship on www.wnrc.wamc.org.uk, on the Championship Facebook page and on Twitter @WnRC.
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