Matthew Hirst and Declan Dear will have another chance to clinch the Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship title for a third time on this weekend’s penultimate round of the series, the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally on Saturday 28 October.
In a carbon copy of last year, the Delta Salvage/Witham Group Ford Fiesta R5 crew scored maximum points on the first four rounds of their 2023 campaign, only for their Woodpecker Stages jinx to deny them a five out of five clean sweep (below).
Having contested the Cambrian every year since 2018, Hirst knows the event well and was the top Pirelli Welsh finisher last year – and the Doncaster ace will be hoping to wrap this year’s Welsh title up with a round to spare.
“The Cambrian Rally is an event which crews want to perform well on given the previous winners of the event reading like an A-Z of British rallying royalty,” said Hirst.
“I must admit, it was a personal highlight getting to shake Mr Hollywood himself Petter Solbergs’ hand last year on the seafront in Llandudno after Oliver [Solberg] showed us what a top line works driver can do on these stages.
“One of the things I enjoy about this event is how it reinvents itself year on year. The route tends to be unpredictable which certainly adds to the challenge with the preparation going into the event from a pace notes perspective.”
With all but two of 18 Pirelli Welsh class titles still up for grabs, battles will be raging throughout the field – not least in the OnThePaceNote-supported Welsh Junior Championship, where the top six drivers are covered by just 15 points, led by Callum Griffiths (below).
There is a close battle for the Hockly Motorsport-supported class W2 title, with the top five drivers separated by 12 points.
Also up for grabs on the Cambrian Rally will be the Witham Group special awards for registered 2WD, 4WD and Historic competitors.
Each year the North Wales Car Club organising team try to give the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally a new twist, and this year’s route promises to be one of the most challenging and compact ones yet with a 45 mile/six stage all gravel format.
Starting from Llandudno Promenade at 08:00, the morning’s loop contains two new configurations of stages, one of which is nine miles long, while the final afternoon stage will be 14 miles long. The route also sees the return of the famous Clocaenog forest complex for the first time since 2014.
Rally headquarters will be in the Venue Cymru theatre and concert centre, service will be in the grounds of Welsh Assembly Government buildings in Llandudno Junction, and the finish ceremony will be back on Llandudno Promenade from 16:30.
© Images by Paul Mitchell Photography