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