Saturday’s Builth Wells-based Rallynuts Stages gives competitors in the Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship their third opportunity of the year to pick up points in the series, says Peter Hughes.
Amongst the end rewards on offer are a free entry on the National Rally of Wales Rally GB, provided by the organisers of the World Championship event, IMS, as part of their Road to Wales initiative. That prize will go to whoever leads the Championship after the eighth round.
Currently leading the series overall after tackling the first two rounds in two very different cars are Osian Pryce and Dale Furniss. They claimed maximum points on the season opener, the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally, in the Spencer Sports Mitsubishi Mirage R5.
The Machynlleth driver and his co-driver, from Llanfyllin, followed this up with third place points on Rally North Wales, competing in an historic specification Mark II Escort. While the series leaders are not scheduled to take part in this event, the duo who took top points on the last round will be in action. Nick Elliott and Dave Price made their Championship debut on that event, taking their Mark II Escort to outright victory.
Narbeth’s Julian Reynolds and co-driver Patrick Walsh, who took second place points on the Cambrian Rally, will be out once again this weekend in their R5 specification Ford Fiesta while Ruthin driver Hugh Hunter and Rob Fagg, who finished third on that event in their WRC spec Fiesta, also return to the championship.
Three former champions are also out. Luke Francis, from Rhuddlan, is teamed up as always with Colwyn Bay’s John H Roberts in their Fiesta WRC while Irish man Connor McCloskey is partnered by John Rowan in the R5 Fiesta. Llysfaen’s Matt Edwards and Darren Garrod of Pwllheli return to the Championship after crashing their Fiesta out of an early lead on the season opener.
It’s Dylan Davies from Llanon and Caernarfon co-driver Llion Williams (right), who currently lie second in the Championship standings and they will be looking to close the gap on the absent Pryce and Furniss.
Also chasing outright honours will be West Country husband and wife pairing Martyn and Dawn England in their Fiesta R5+ as well as Yorkshireman Matthew Hirst and Declan Dear, from Woking, currently lying fifth and fourth in their respective championship standings in their Mitsubishi Evo IX.
Former Group N Champions Paul Davy and Roger Allan currently lead that category once again but the seasoned campaigners from Worcester face strong opposition including from two young competitors lying in second place. Kalvin Green, from Treorchy, campaigns a Fiesta ST while second placed Group N co-driver Tom Wood, from Cwmbran, will once again be in the passenger seat of Welshpool driver Zak Hughes’s similar car.
Others chasing points in the category for near showroom specification cars will include currently third placed Wug Utting and Bob Stokoe in their Subaru Impreza and 2017 Champions Andy Davies and Max Freeman who failed to finish Rally North Wales in their Impreza.
John Rowlands from Ffestiniog and Glenn Latham of Machynlleth are leading the two-wheel drive category in a modern specification Mark II Escort but their absence this weekend should allow some of their rivals to narrow the gap. Among them are 2017 two-wheel drive champions Andy and Jamie-Lee Fox, competing in a BMW 325 as well as Colin Griffiths in his BMW Compact. Also out to make a mark will be David and James Young. The Ford Escort mounted duo travelled all the way from Norfolk for Rally North Wales only to be side-lined by mechanical problems before the start of the event.
The RAVENOL Welsh Challenge is aimed at competitors who have not previously finished in the Top 10 of a National B status rally. Matthew Hirst currently lead the driver standings from David Lloyd Roberts, Colin Griffiths and Kalvin Green.
In the co-driver category it’s Declan Dear who tops the table with Dei Jones and Aled Edwards tied on points ahead of Tom Wood.
Competitors will leave the start at the Royal Welsh Showground from 08:30 and spectators can see them in action twice on the Crychan stage, from 09:18 and again from 14:34 as well as on the Radnor stage from 12:09. They are scheduled to return to the showground from just before 16:00.
You can find out more about the event at www.rallynutsrally.co.uk and about the Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship at wnrc.wamc.org.uk, on the Championship Facebook page and on Twitter, @WnRC.
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