A magnificent charge over the final stage of the Phil Price Memorial Woodpecker Stages last Saturday rewarded Rob Wilson/Richard Crozier with a thrilling Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship win and maximum points, as the Mitsubishi Evo 7 crew finished a very impressive third overall.
The Ledbury driver had arrived at the eighth and final stage four seconds behind Russ Thompson/Stephen Link (Dunnow Plant Mitsubishi Evo 9) – but with the knowledge that his Pirelli Welsh rival had a failed anti-lag system and a high water temperature of 130°C.
Little had separated the two Evo drivers all day, and both had been forced to use the clutch to change gear when their flat-shift failed at exactly the same time mid-way through the event – and now the Pirelli Welsh win had come down to a closing 6.35 mile blast through Haye Park which, after an earlier delay, was run in fading light and hanging dust.
With Thompson forced to ease off, Wilson, the 2022 Welsh Junior and Challenge champion, admitted that he could not have driven through Haye Park any quicker – setting the joint fastest overall stage time and an incredible 10 seconds faster than Thompson to take the Pirelli Welsh victory by six seconds.
On the hottest day of the year, Bob Morgan showed the younger drivers what can be achieved on such a physically draining event by completing the Pirelli Welsh podium. Co-driven by Ade Williams, the 66-year old spun his Pirelli-shod Winner Garage Škoda Fabia R5 (above) on SS4, and lost more time in the afternoon when he caught the car in front which was slowed with a broken drivershaft and a misfire that temporarily put his Fabia onto three cylinders.
But the impressive pace Morgan set when he was free to put his foot down secured the Pirelli Welsh podium and top 10 overall finish.
2023 Woodpecker Stages – top 10 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship finishers
1. Rob Wilson/Richard Crozier (Mitsubishi Evo 7)….45mins 26secs
2. Russ Thompson/Stephen Link (Mitsubishi Evo 9)….45mins 32secs
3. Bob Morgan/Ade Williams (Škoda Fabia R5)….48mins 14secs
4. Simon Rogers/James How (Mitsubishi Evo 6)….49mins 06secs
5. Iwan Roberts Jnr/Daniel Jones (Ford Escort G3)….49mins 24secs
6. Mike Brown Jnr/Aled Davies (BMW Compact M3)….50mins 02secs
7. Paul Walker/Geraint Thomas (Subaru Impreza)….50mins 12secs
8. Colin Griffiths/Marc Morgan (Subaru Impreza STi) 50mins 29secs
9. Tony Simpson/Stefan Arndt (Ford Fiesta)….50mins 53secs
10. Colin Minton/Bonnie Papper (Ford Fiesta R5)….50mins 58secs
2023 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship
Overall drivers’ points after Round 5
1. Matthew Hirst….120pts
2. Martyn Andrews….101pts
3. Simon Rogers….97pts
4. Wug Utting….81pts
5. Russ Thompson….81pts
6. Robert Gough….75pts