Luke Francis finally got his bid for the 2015 Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship underway last weekend, the Abergele driver following a non-start and a non-finish on the opening two rounds by claiming maximum points on round three, the North Wales Rally Services and Weir Laundry Equipment Rally North Wales.
While overall victory on the rally went to unregistered Scotsman David Bogie, Francis and his Colwyn Bay co-driver John H Roberts took their Mitsubishi Evo 9 to second place. Despite saying that their progress felt slow on the early stages and having concerns about a noisy prop shaft, the duo came home just two seconds ahead of junior World Rally Championship star Osian Pryce, the Machynlleth driver partnered by regular co-driver Dale Furniss of Llanfyllin.
While Francis’s victory moves him to ninth place in the championship standings, Malvern driver Bob Ceen tops the table after taking his Subaru Impreza World rally car to second place among the championship contenders for the second time this year.
Ieuan Rowlands from Llan Ffestiniog and Bala co-driver Emyr Hall brought their Ford Escort home in third place, and top two wheel drive car, despite briefly going off the road on stage 3. They finished one place ahead of top Group N crew Roland Lewellin and Jamie Edwards who also had an off course excursion on the same stage. Llewellin, from Haverfordwest and Edwards remain in second place in the Group N standings behind Worcester duo Paul Davy and Roger Allan while Wrexham based Edwards moves to fourth place in the overall co-driver standings.
With Davy moving up to second place in the overall driver standings, early season leader Hugh Hunter slips to third position, the Ruthin driver opting not to contest this event. Jamie Jukes from Llandysul lies in fourth place overall while also topping the two wheel drive standings in his Suzuki Swift along with co-driver Dave Williams of Llanferres.
Llanwrda driver Meirion Evans claimed top points in the Junior category for drivers under 25 in his Citroen DS3, taking the category lead from Cardiff driver Morgan Handford who didn’t contest the event while Caron Tomlinson from Penmachno who was partnering Welshpool driver James Watkins in their Nissan Micra moves to the top of the junior co-driver standings.
The innovative RAVENOL Welsh Challenge, which sees drivers from across the classes vying for a prize pool valued at over £3000, is headed from Jamie Jukes, two points ahead of Paul Davy with Ellesmere driver John Baker and Bob Ceen tied for third place.
After a busy start to the season, competitors now have a short break before round four of the eight round championship, the Plains Rally. The Welshpool based event, organised by Knutsford and District Motor Club, takes place on 16 May.
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