Edwards and co-driver Darren Garrod dominated the event in their Ford Fiesta R5 to win by 40 seconds from Luke Francis and John Roberts in their WRC example. Paul Bird and Jack Morton secured the final podium spot in their Ford Focus WRC, to further extend their lead of the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series.
One of the biggest entries in many years headed for the Midland Manor Motor Club organised event which took in classic tests in the Cefn, Crychan, Gwibedog and Radnor forests. 44 stage miles would lie ahead for the 130 competitors who had entered the event and despite the shift of the events traditional June date to April, were greeted by warm spring sunshine during the day.
The opening loop of three stages would see Edwards build a 19 second lead to Francis after 15 miles of competitive driving and despite the lack of power in the Welshman’s R5 version compared to the world car of Francis, had no intention of leaving it there for the rest of the day.
True to his word, Edwards ensured his preparation for the forthcoming British Championship round in a fortnight’s time was a valuable step forward by taking a convincing win over some much more powerful machinery.
Francis was the model of consistency throughout the seven stages, settling in to his runner up spot from the very first stage. In only his second ever event in the Fiesta WRC, Francis could not overhaul a flying Edwards, but ensured he remained in safe second place to put right his early exit from the Cambrian Rally in February.
Bird would start his Rallynuts Stages with fourth quickest on the opening test, briefly remaining outside the podium places until the third stage when he picked off Hugh Hunter and Rob Fagg’s Fiesta WRC to move into third. There he would stay for the rest of the event. Hunter was happy with his early pace, but couldn’t quite match Bird’s two-litre Focus and settled for fourth at the finish.
Number one seed, Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson couldn’t quite live up to the expectation of the starting order with a slower than normal start for the Northumbrian. His Fiesta WRC would act as road sweeper for the remaining crews and as the stages were repeated in the afternoon, his times tumbled. Petch ended the event with second quickest time, to finish fifth.
Julian Reynolds and Patrick Walsh took their Fiesta R5 to an impressive sixth spot in just their second event in the car with British Rally Championship star Tom Cave, with Dale Bowen alongside just two seconds behind in seventh in his aging but rapid Subaru Impreza.
Charlie Payne/Carl Williamson (Fiesta WRC), Martyn/Dawn England (Fiesta R5+) and Dylan Davies/Llion Williams (Subaru Impreza) rounded off the top ten.
Formally known as the Severn Valley Stages, thanks to a long-term partnership with race wear and accessory supplier Rallynuts Motorsport, the event was renamed at the end of 2017, ensuring the stability of the rally into at least 2023.
The event was a round of the Pirelli MSA Welsh Rally Championship, West Wales Rally Spares HRCR Stage Masters and the Brian Dennis Motorsport Welsh Historic Rally Championship.
More information on the event and provisional results can be found at www.rallynutsrally.co.uk
An impressive line-up of around 130 crews will head to Builth Wells this weekend as some of the best drivers in national rallying compete in the 45th running of the Rallynuts Stages Rally (14th April).
Formally known as the Severn Valley Stages, the Midland Manor Motor Club organised rally has seen a name, date and championship change in 2018 which has helped to bring one of the biggest entries in a number of years to the popular forest event.
Thanks to a long-term partnership with race wear and accessory supplier Rallynuts Motorsport, the event was renamed at the end of 2017, ensuring the stability of the rally which offers 45 miles of classic rallying in the Cefn, Crychan, Gwibedog and Radnor forests.
Returning after a break of 27 years, the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Championship has attracted a diverse and exciting entry, from World Rally Cars to historic specification machines. Also heading to the Royal Welsh Showground at the weekend are crews from the Pirelli MSA Welsh Rally Championship, West Wales Rally Spares HRCR Stage Masters and the Brian Dennis Motorsport Welsh Historic Rally Championship.
Picking a winner from the notable entry would be a difficult task with any one of the top ten in with a shout for overall glory. 2017 BTRDA Champions Steve Petch/Michael Wilkinson could arguably be considered as favourites to better their third spot on the Cambrian Rally in their Fiesta WRC, but series leaders Paul Bird/Jack Morton will have something to say about that prediction. They will bring their older but equally as glorious Ford Focus WRC to Wales.
British Rally Championship hopefuls Matt Edwards/Darren Garrod will also be eying victory in their less powerful but nimble Ford Fiesta R5. The Welsh driver is dovetailing his BRC commitments with a BTRDA campaign. 2014 event winner and two-time runner up Luke Francis has swapped his Mitsubishi for a Fiesta WRC in 2018 and will want to take the winner’s trophy back to Denbighshire with John Roberts alongside.
Ruthin driver Hugh Hunter will wheel out his Fiesta WRC with Robb Fagg alongside and will also be one of the top Welsh Championship contenders amongst the leaders. Tom Cave from Aberdovey makes a welcome return to the stages after several months away from UK Rallying and will drive his own Subaru Impreza with Dale Bowen in the co-drivers seat.
Such is a quality of the entry, you will need to look outside the top twenty to find the first two wheel drive crew and that honour goes to last year’s Historic event winners Nick Elliott and Dave Price in their Ford Escort Mk2. Fellow British Historic Rally Championship crew Rudi Lancaster and Guy Weaver will take the fight to Elliott in their similar machine.
Spectators eager to catch the action on the stages will be well catered for this year, with three opportunities to view the cars in full flight during the day. The Crychan stage, just a few miles North East of Cynghordy, offers the chance to see two passes of the stage, at both 09:18 and 14:34.
The Radnor test, just off the A488 at Monaughty is visited just once at 12:09. For those fans who want to get a little closer to the cars and drivers, the rally base at the Royal Welsh Showground is the ideal place to visit.
Technical checks take place from 13:00 on Friday 13th at the venue. The ceremonial start gets underway from 08:30 on Saturday 14th, with the service halt scheduled for 10:43 and 13:02. Crews will start to return for the ceremonial finish from around 15:55.