Jonathan Brace and Jonny ‘Tad’ Evans have been honoured with two special Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship awards – the David Stokes Historic Challenge for drivers and the Guy Weaver award for co-drivers.
The award winners were selected by a judging panel (made up of representatives from the Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship, the Welsh Association of Motor Clubs, members of the Stokes family and Guy Weaver) from a list made up of drivers and co-drivers who had finished the 2023 series in the top three in each Historic class.
The panel unanimously agreed that Jonathan and Jonny were worthy recipients of the annual awards, thanks to their sportsmanship, unflappable determination, performance improvement and how they go out of their way to promote motorsport in a positive and safe manner.
Driving his Dave Jenkins Motorsport-built Ford Escort RS1600 Mk1, Jonathan finished second in the W8 (2WD Historic 1601cc) class – having won the class four times out of five appearances.
A stalwart of Welsh rallying, the Newport-based driver also generously donates hundreds of his family’s famous Brace’s Bakery Welsh Cakes to marshals and event officials, which is always very much appreciated.
Jonny is a vastly experienced competitor, having started co-driving in 1997. Much of his rallying has taken place the Welsh forests, giving the Newtown-based navigator an encyclopaedic knowledge of the stages.
This year he won the class W8 title, guiding Andrew Stokes to three class victories and three second place finishes in their Stokes Rally Team Ford Escort RS1600 Mk1 (above).
As well as ably demonstrating their speed, Jonathan and Jonny also impressed the judges with their excellent demeanour towards championship personnel, event officials and marshals, the high standard of car preparation and being great ambassadors to rallying – qualities that the late David Stokes always insisted upon and which Guy Weaver continues today.
Jonathan Brace (above) said, “I’m so proud to win this award with the great help of Paul Spooner [co-driver] by my side. I had known David Stokes for forty years, with us both being in the baking trade and with our interest in rallying.
“I believe I sparked his interest back into the drivers’ seat with a bit of cajoling, when I leant my car to him to do the 1996 Sweet Lamb Stages and also the Wyedean, as it wasn’t long after he was looking for a car for the Historic Championship.
“I always looked up to his neat driving style and thought he was a great target for all the up-and-coming drivers as he was always fast and ultimately consistent. The last two years I have stepped into the Escort Mk1 and everything clicked; Paul Spooner’s notes and the car just suited my driving style. It is a great honour to continue my association with David’s name and talent.”
Jonny ‘Tad’ Evans said, “What an honour it is to win this fantastic award, the Guy Weaver Historic Challenge. I knew David and Guy from years ago while competing on the same events, the pairing of both David and Guy were a force to be reckoned with. They won the overall Historic Championship four times, which says it all to how good they were as a team.
“This award means so much to me, as does being able to join David’s brother Andrew in AFW 66K – the car that David and Guy rallied in together. A massive thanks must go to Andrew for the season and also to our team manager Sue [David’s wife] and KJ on spanner’s for not only building a fantastic car, but for maintaining it as well.”
Andrew Stokes added, “David [Stokes] used to have lots of different rally sayings, usually containing a swear word or two! Two printable sayings I remember were ‘carry your speed’ and ‘show the spectators what they want to see’ – and both winners epitomise that philosophy of hard changing and putting on a good show for the fans.
“I’d therefore like to congratulate Jonathan Brace, who has shown devotion to the Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship over many seasons and has a driving style befitting the David Stokes Historic Challenge award, and Jonny ‘Tad’ Evans, who I know from first-hand experience what an excellent co-driver and companion he is, and a very worthy winner of the Guy Weaver award.”
Guy Weaver continued, “Congratulations to Jonathan and Jonny. They both showed a lot of grit and determination last year and supported the Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship, which is all very important in the ethos that the awards are both considering in terms of criteria.
“I hope that 2024 sees even more competitors come and enter these championship events, putting a smile on all the spectator’s faces out there watching – which is something that David [Stokes] and I always tried to do.”
Dave Evison, Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship Secretary, said, “Congratulations to Jonathan Brace on winning the David Stokes Award – he has shown great improvement in his results over the last eighteen months, has been a great ambassador for the sport both in and outside the car, and always conducts himself with the utmost professionalism.
“Working together with co-driver Paul Spooner, Jonathan has demonstrated a greater understanding of teamwork which has helped him and his team achieve success. Congratulations also to Jonny ‘Tad’ Evans for winning the Guy Weaver Award.
“Jonny lives and breathes rallying in Wales, his enthusiasm for the sport is second-to-none and when the flag drops it’s his exceptional co-driving and office management skills that kick in. The demand for his co-driving services speaks for itself.”
© Images Paul Mitchell