Matthew Hirst and Declan Dear made a flying start to the defence of their Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship title by winning the opening round of the 2023 series, the Get Jerky Rally North Wales last weekend.
Using a new Pirelli tyre compound to excellent effect, especially in the morning’s wet and muddy conditions, the 2019 and 2022 champions established a healthy lead after the first loop of four stages through Dyfnant, Gartheiniog, Big Ray and Dyfi forests, despite admitting to a few moments in their Delta Salvage Ford Fiesta R5. They then extended their advantage over the afternoon’s repeat run through the stages to a very impressive 3min 39sec winning margin.
It was the third time that they had won Rally North Wales – and both previous victories have led to them claiming the Welsh title!
“When you’ve built up a nice gap at the top of the leaderboard by the middle of the event it’s yours to lose from then on, so we’re pleased to have reached the finish here in Welshpool’s town centre,” said Hirst.
“We underestimated the grip levels on the opening stage and then had a couple of moments when we were pushing after that, but everything has gone really well all day.”
There was a fierce family battle in the Welsh Juniors between the Presteigne Tyre Services supported Ford Fiesta ST driving brothers Callum and Liam Griffiths. Both had great runs, although this time it was Callum (co-driven by William Lewis) who finished ahead of Liam (co-driven by Daniel James).
Having done a lot of work to his Talbot Sunbeam over the winter, Bala’s Julian Birley said the car was the best it has ever been as he and co-driver Emyr Hall romped home to Historic class W5 victory.
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