Matthew Hirst will be aiming to make it two wins from two starts when he contests Round 2 of the 2023 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship, the Rallynuts Stages Rally, on Saturday 15 April.
Co-driven by Declan Dear, Hirst won the event last year in his Pirelli-shod Delta Salvage Ford Fiesta R5 by a very impressive 34 seconds – having been an incredible 24 seconds faster than his nearest championship rival over the opening 10.71-mile Myherin stage!
Having won the recent Get Jerky Rally North Wales, which was the opening round of the 2023 Pirelli Welsh series, Hirst takes a three-point championship lead into the famous forest stages of mid-Wales – chased hard by his rivals who are determined to knock him off the top spot.
With a full season of rallying his Ford Fiesta R5 under his belt, Eddie Lewis will be aiming for victory. The 21-year old, who became British Junior 1000 rally champion in 2018, will be co-driven by Sion Cunniff.
Steve Black – the Pirelli Welsh 2021 class W3 champion who is well-known for his giant-killing results in his 586 Sports-prepared Suzuki Swift – will drive the Pallas Connections-backed Ford Fiesta Rally2 (which he shares with his son, the 2017 Pirelli Welsh champion Callum Black). He’ll be co-driven by Jack Morton.
Russ Thompson will also make his first Pirelli Welsh appearance of the season. The 2019 championship runner-up finished fourth overall on the Rallynuts last year and always goes well in these forests and, together with Stephen Link, will be out to impress in his Dunnow Plant-backed Mitsubishi Evo 9.
Another aiming for overall victory will be Rob Wilson – the reigning Welsh Challenge, class W13 and OnThePaceNote-supported Welsh Junior champion. He’ll be co-driven by Richard Crozier in his Ravenol-backed Mitsubishi Evo 7.
Simon Rogers had a great run on Rally North Wales in his MacWhirter Motorsport-prepared Mitsubishi Evo 6 and leads class W13 and is fourth in the overall drivers’ standings. He’ll be back with his usual co-driver James How this time.
Meanwhile David Tomlin will be without his normal co-driver, as Keith Ashley is the event’s Clerk of the Course. Stepping into the Axon Ford Fiesta R5’s navigator’s seat will be Ian Beamond.
Daniel Moss/Samuel Davies were robbed of a top result on Rally North Wales when a rear driveshaft snapped on their pink Hurst Haylage Mitsubishi Evo 10 and will be out for revenge this time – as will Colin Minton/Bonnie Papper who suffered clutch problems in their Ignition Motorsport Ford Fiesta R5 last time out.
Also hoping to exploit the 4WD traction of their Subaru Imprezas will be Paul Walker/Geraint Thomas, Wug Utting/Bob Stokoe, Colin Griffiths/Sion Rowlands, Charles Campbell/Sam Weller, Rob and Ashley Aslett and Martyn Andrews/Steve Greenhill (the latter arrive leading the Welsh Challenge category in their Opie Oils Subaru Impreza), while Peter Baylis/Paul Godden, Geoff Cottrill/Nathan Crewe and Peter Baylis/Paul Godden wheel out their Mitsubishi Evo 9s.
Boyd Kershaw/Keegan Rees lead the Hockly Motorsport-supported Welsh 2WD section in their Flying Kiwi Ford Escort Mk2. The defending champions fought sequential gear down shift problems on the opening round, but still won the class.
Iwan Roberts Jnr/Daniel Jones survived low oil pressure in their Roberts of Ffestiniog Ford Escort G3 on Round 1 and will also be hoping for a more trouble-free event this time out, while Kevin Metcalfe/Ian Jones will be looking for their first finish of the season in their BMW E30.
Also battling for top 2WD honours will be Tim Phelps/Elwyn Manuel (Britpart Ford Escort Mk2), defending class W12 champions Andrew Fox/Jaime-Lee Fox (Xwatch Safety Solutions BMW 325), Geoff Phelps/Colin Jenkins (Hartpury Farms Escort Mk2), Clive Price/John Fellowes (BMW 318ti Compact), Richard Warne/Chris Deal (Ford Escort Mk2), Dan Chester/Paul Barbet (BMW E30), Mike and Nikola Brown (BMW E36 Compact) and Will Armitage/Jeremy Pole (Peugeot 306 S16).
The young Griffiths brothers didn’t have a clean run on last year’s Rallynuts, with a sensor problem limiting Liam’s Fiesta ST to 50mph and Callum retiring his similar Ford with a broken driveshaft. The Presteigne Tyre Services-backed duo did have a strong Rally North Wales however, with Callum and co-driver William Lewis beating Liam and co-driver Daniel James in the OnThePaceNote supported Welsh Junior section.
Machynlleth’s Gethin Price arrives at the Rallynuts leading class W2 in his RKP Haulage Nissan Micra and will on this occasion be co-driven by Iwan Thomas. He’ll be up again defending class champions Adrian and Matthew Walk in their PartBOX Ford Ka.
Also contesting the highly competitive Hockly Motorsport-backed 1400cc classes will be James Dunkley/Jack Morris (Vauxhall Corsa), Edwards James/Charlie Mason (Nissan Micra), Will Banks/Sam Kelter (Vauxhall Nova), Luke Watts/Matt Rogers (MG ZR), Nigel and Kaz Jenkins (Vauxhall Nova), Ashley Francis-Adams/Lucy Wilding (Nissan Micra) and Lucy Wigley/Emma Cooper (Citroën C2).
Tony Simpson had a tremendous run last time out in his Seacon UK Ford Fiesta R2T to win class W4 and come home runner-up in the 2WD section. He’ll be co-driven this time by Stefan Arndt.
Wrexham’s Dan and Cyril Jones won class W10 on Rally North Wales in their Jones Brothers/North Wales Joinery Vauxhall Nova and will resume their battle with defending champions Martin Walters/Marie Fletcher in their high-revving Digger Parts Direct Honda Civic. Alan Desbois/Peter Littlefield join the class battle in their Peugeot 306 RWD.
Robert Gough is the top driver in the Restruct Welsh Historic W9 class after a magnificent performance on the opening round. The Ludlow driver is also second in the overall Pirelli Welsh points table and, together with co-driver Paul Morris, will be aiming to continue that form this time in his Ford Escort Mk2.
A puncture prevented Rudi Lancaster/Guy Weaver (above) from challenging for the class W9 win last time, but are always quick in their Woolacombe Holiday Parks Escort RS1800 Mk2, while Ben Friend/Cliffy Simmons make their first championship appearance of the season in their Allglass Ford Escort Mk2.
Jonathan Brace/Paul Spooner lead the Historic class W8 in their Dave Jenkins Motorsport-built Brace’s Bakery Ford Escort RS1600 Mk1 and will resume their battle with Andrew Stokes/Jonny Tad Evans and Gareth Lewis/Ryland James who are also in Escort Mk1s. Lyn Davies/Aled Richards, Jeremy Wells/Martin Saunders and Freddy Camp/Stephen Spear all appear in Escorts.
As well as the Historic category trophies, the registered crews that finish in the top three of each Historic class at the end of the season will be put forward for the David Stokes Historic Challenge award for drivers and the Guy Weaver award for co-drivers.
© Images email@example.com