Scottish rally driver Euan Thorburn continued the perfect start to his 2019 rallying season at the Rallynuts Stages today (13th April 2019) by taking a start-to-finish victory in his Ford Focus WRC with Paul Beaton on the notes.
Thorburn, from Duns in the Scottish borders, stunned his rivals by taking fastest stage time on each of the event’s six special stages, to win the Builth Wells based event by winning margin of 59 seconds. This victory ensures the duo maintain their 100% winning record this year, winning each of the four events contested.
Northern Ireland driver Mark Donnelly made an impressive return to the sport after two years away by taking second place with Welshman Dai Roberts alongside in their Fiesta R5+, dropping Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson to third on the final stage in their Fiesta WRC.
Over 130 crews would start the 46th running of the popular rally, one of the biggest in the history of the Midland Manor Motor Club-organised event. Over 44 miles of competitive driving lay ahead for the crews in the dry and dusty forests of Hafren, Sweet Lamb and Coed Sarnau, mixing classic tests with rarely used stages, challenging even the most experienced of crews.
Not only would the event start with a healthy number of competitors, but the quality was also an enviable prospect thanks to the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Championship joining the event once again.
Mark Donnelly impressed on his return to the sport with 2nd
– Image credit: RallySport Media – Click to download high res image
The event was also a qualifying round of the Pirelli Motorsport UK Welsh Rally Championship, West Wales Rally Spares HRCR Stage Masters, Brian Dennis Motorsport / Jelf Motorsport Welsh Historic Rally Championship and the FMP Rally Challenge.
Stopping the clocks with the fastest time over the opening Hafren South stage was perhaps unsurprisingly Thorburn, but he was joined at the head of the leader board by 2017 event winner Connor McCloskey, another to make the trip across the Irish sea with Noel O’ Sullivan alongside in their Fiesta R5.
Ian Joel and Graeme Wood were second fastest in their Escort Cosworth but would not make that stick throughout the remaining tests. Thorburn picked up the pace on the next three tests to end the opening loop with a 29-second lead heading into service and well in control of the rally. That lead would do nothing but grow, and the Scotsman blasted through the remaining two stages of the day to win by almost a minute to his nearest rival.
Thorburn was delighted with yet another rally win and maximum BTRDA points.
“It’s great to have taken the win here today and maintain such a great winning record, I really didn’t expect that after taking a year out last season,” he said.
“I was expecting to perhaps get a win at the end of the year, not the start so four on the bounce was a bit unexpected, but we will take it nevertheless. The stages have been brilliant down here today and the weather has played ball, Paul has done a great job on the notes so all round its been an excellent day’s rallying.”
Behind him however, the battle would certainly be on for the remaining podium places with Petch taking second place on the Sweet Lamb stage, a place he would hold onto until the final test.
McCloskey resumed third but would drop into the clutches of Donnelly by the mid-point, the two Northern Irishmen locked in a battle over the closing two tests of the day.
Donnelly would bed in nicely to his new surrounds and as the miles progressed, he became quicker.
Stephen Petch scored a much needed podium– Image credit: RallySport Media – Click to download high res image
Edging away from McCloskey, he had his sights set further up the leader board and on the final 13.4 mile Hafren North stage, launched himself into second spot, demoting Petch in the process.
McCloskey netted fourth with Charles Payne and Carl Williamson rounding out the top five in their Fiesta WRC with a handful of top five times throughout the day.
Phillip and Simon Morrow were another crew to return to the sport after several years away, beating much more powerful machinery throughout the day in their Mitsubishi Evo IX. They would be heading for a potential top-five result, only to roll on the final corner of the final stage and having to retire on the spot.
Sam Bilham and Patrick Walsh recovered from an early puncture to secure sixth in their Fiesta R5 with Scott Faulkner and Gareth Parry leading a line of four Mitsubishi’s home, taking seventh place to win the BTRDA NR4 battle and taking maximum points in the Welsh Rally Championship to boot. Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear, Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence and Richard Sykes/Simon Taylor rounded off the top ten in their Evo IX examples.
Managing Director of Rallynuts Motorsport Paul Bonas, also contested the event bringing his Subaru Impreza home in 64th spot after being away from the drivers seat for over eight months.
Despite the challenging stages on offer during the day, 102 cars would make it to the ceremonial finish at Builth Wells Showground.
What they said:
Mark Donnelly – 2nd place
“I`m very surprised at the result to be honest. We were just coming here for a finish and make sure we didn’t damage the car, but to finish second was great. It was getting better the more miles we did in the Fiesta and its fantastic to be back.”
Stephen Petch – 3rd place
“A podium result is certainly what we needed to do today, and we delivered that. We had an anti-roll bar link snap on the final stage which cost us some time, but to be fair we are happy with the result, and we have both really enjoyed it.”
Full results can be found at www.rallynutsrally.co.uk
Rally sponsor Paul Bonas enjoyed a strong run
– Image credit: RallySport Media – click to download high res image –
ALL IMAGES COPYRIGHT RallySport Media
The 2019 Rallynuts Stages Rally is set to be one of the biggest in its 46–year history as over 130 crews head to Builth Wells this weekend for the popular annual forest stage rally (13th April).
A top-quality entry will assemble on Saturday to tackle over 44 miles of competitive driving in the nearby forests, many of which have been made famous by Britain’s round of the FIA World Rally Championship, Wales Rally GB in the past. Names such as Hafren, Sweet Lamb and Coed Sarnau Forests will offer an action-packed day’s motorsport in the region.
The rally is once again sponsored by established racewear and accessory firm Rallynuts Motorsport, who enter their fourth year as title sponsors. Their support, coupled with a progressive format helped to secure the event in the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Championship calendar in 2018, returning after a long break.
The event is also joined by the Pirelli Motorsport UK Welsh Rally Championship, West Wales Rally Spares HRCR Stage Masters, Brian Dennis Motorsport /Jelf Motorsport Welsh Historic Rally Championship and the FMP Rally Challenge.
In a change to the format of previous years, crews with smaller engined cars and Historic Category vehicles will lead the crews away from Builth Wells Showground on Saturday morning in a reverse seeded order, followed by the main field in a “fastest first” running order.
This means Joseph Keen and Paul Barbet will be the first to be flagged away from the ceremonial start at the Showground in their MG ZR, followed by 30 or so two-wheel-drive contenders all eager to make use of the prime road conditions ahead.
Undoubtedly though, all eyes will be on the main field of protagonists which will be led away by current Scottish Rally Champions Euan Thorburn and Paul Beaton in their Focus WRC. Wearing the coveted number one on the door, the duo has won every event contested so far in 2019 and will aim to continue their winning ways at the Rallynuts Stages, despite having never contested the event previously.
Winning the event in 2017, Northern Irishman Connor McCloskey returns in a bid to engrave his name on the trophy once again this year, ably co-driven by Noel O Sullivan in a Fiesta R5+. His pace on the mid-Wales stages is proven, but such is the strength of the entry this year, a second win is far from guaranteed.
Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson bring their Fiesta WRC from Durham and will be aiming to put their three retirements this season behind them and gain some valuable BTRDA points.
Ollie Mellors will bring one of the latest FIA specification R5 machines to the event, as the Proton Iriz R5 heads to Wales. Co-driven by Max Freeman, the Proton is well proven with second place on the Riponian Rally already this year.
Rounding out the top five is Charles Payne and Carl Williamson in their Fiesta WRC. They are followed by a gaggle of front runners who are all capable of taking overall rally victory.
George Lepley/Arwel Jenkins are tipped for two wheel drive honours
– Image credit: BTRDA/Kevin Money – click to download high res image
Other notable names include British Historic front-runners Ben Friend and Cliff Simmons in their Ford Escort MK2 whilst George Lepley and Arwel Jenkins will vie for BTRDA Historic and Silver Star honours in their Hillman Avenger. Directors of event sponsors Rallynuts Motorsport, Paul Bonas and Craig Cameron will also contest the event together in their familiar Subaru Impreza.
Spectators will be well catered for this weekend and have plenty of opportunities to catch the action both on and off the stages. The Royal Welsh Showground will house all pre-event checks and documentation from 13:00 – 19:00 on Friday 12th. It will also play host to the ceremonial start (08:30), finish (16:00) and mid-event service (12:00) halt during the day on Saturday 13th.
Fans can head into the woods at two locations on Saturday, with the famous Sweet Lamb stage offering two opportunities to watch the field. This test located just off the A44 near Llangurig, gets underway at 10:05 and 14:46, whilst the Cwmysgawen stage runs once at 11:04 and is located off the A483 north of Crossgates.
Follow the event’s social media feeds for all the latest news, action and updates throughout the weekend.
Full spectator information and entry list can be found at www.rallynutsrally.co.uk
Rally sponsors Paul Bonas and Craig Cameron will contest event
– click to download high res image –
Organisers of this year’s Rallynuts Stages have announced a radical new-look to the 13th April event which offers a dynamic route and format for the Midland Manor Motor Club promoted forest stage rally.
Regulations have now been released and online entry is now available, for the 46thrunning of the popular rally, sponsored by established racewear and accessory firm Rallynuts Motorsport who enter their fourth year as title sponsors.
In a bid to ensure the event remains unique, organisers will utilise the Coed Sarnau complex which has not been used since the 1990s and offers a new challenge for crews. Hafren forest will also be used for the first time in many years on the event, made famous in recent times by Britain’s round of the FIA World Rally Championship, Wales Rally GB.
The Rallynuts Stages will ensure the best possible road conditions for all crews by offering a substantial 29 miles of single-use forestry with six stages totalling almost 45 miles of top-quality stages. To complement this, crews with smaller engined cars (classes RF1.4, RF2.0, 1400C and 1400S) and Historic Category vehicles (H1 & H2) will be able to run first on the road, followed by the main field.
Offering unrivalled facilities, pre-event documentation and scrutineering as well as the service halt will all be based at the Builth Wells Showground.
The event is proud to be a qualifying round of the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series for the second year in a row. It will also welcome back the Pirelli Motorsport UK Welsh Rally Championship, West Wales Rally Spares HRCR Stage Masters and the Brian Dennis Motorsport / Jelf Motorsport Welsh Historic Rally Championship. The FMP Rally Challenge will also join the event in 2019 after being a reserve round last year.
Chris Ashley, Clerk of the Course for this year’s event is pleased to be able to offer a dynamic new-look event in 2019.
“The Rallynuts Stages has long been a popular event in the British Rallying calendar,” he says.
“But its very important to keep progressing and moving the rally forward so the team decided to look at other options in 2019 and we believe we have one of the best Rallynuts Stages in store for many years. The stages look great and we will be the first rally to use them this year. With new stages in Coed Sarnau and Hafren, as well as the revised running order, we believe we have catered for everyone this year and I look forward to welcoming competitors to Builth Wells in April”.
More information on the event, regulations and online entry can be found at www.rallynutsrally.co.uk
Or follow the event on social media:
The 2018 Rallynuts Rally has made a generous donation of £500 to Help for Heroes, the UK Armed Forces and Military Veterans Charity. (https://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/ )
Our former Equipment Officer Mike Davis, has for many years allowed the event to store its equipment at his premises free of charge. It was his wish that if the event could afford to do so, to make a donation to H4H, a charity dear to him and his family.
Mike said: “In a year which has seen the RAF celebrate 100 years and in which will mark the centenary of the end of the first World War, it is appropriate that any donation goes to those who have fought in the armed forces.”
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.
The 45th running of the Rallynuts Stages Rally heralds a significant change to the event formally known as the Severn Valley Stages, as entries open this week for the re-named event on the 14th April 2018.
Established racewear and accessory firm Rallynuts Motorsport became title sponsor of the rally in 2016 and thanks to the success of the past two years, have further enhanced the partnership by signing a long-term agreement to become title sponsors until 2023.
Located in its now traditional rally base at in Builth Wells, organisers of the popular event have devised a new-for-2018 route, which offers 45 miles of classic rallying in the Cefn, Crychan, Gwibedog and Radnor forests, spread across seven stages.
To ensure the conditions of the Welsh forests are in optimum condition for all crews in the field, 31 miles will be single use, ensuring smooth roads for all competitors on the Midland Manor Motor Club organised rally.
The all-gravel event will also welcome back the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Championship which returns after 27 years away. The rally was a round of the Gold Star Championship between 1983 and 1990 and the national rally series will undoubtedly bring a new feel to the event and along with it, a wide range of cars and crews from across the UK to the county of Powys in April.
It will once again be a qualifying round of the Pirelli MSA Welsh Rally Championship, who will be joined by the West Wales Rally Spares HRCR Stage Masters and the Brian Dennis Motorsport Welsh Historic Rally Championship.
The event will retain many of its popular characteristics from the last few years, offering competitors a cost effective, compact and friendly rally in the heart of Wales.
The rally base at the Royal Welsh Showground offers a perfect location for the event thanks to its unrivalled facilities, playing host to Rally HQ, Scrutineering, attended overnight parking, service and the start and finish ceremonies.
Joint Clerk of the Course Chris Ashley believes the format of this year’s event is one of the best yet and is looking forward to welcoming both championship and non-championship crews to the event.
“Year on year we have worked really hard to ensure our event has a great route across stages that are in their prime and I think we have that just right again in 2018, especially with the significant amount of single usage on offer” he says.
“This will really help the crews further back in the field and as it’s the first time these stages will have been used this year, they will be in top condition. We are also of course delighted to welcome Rallynuts as long-term title sponsors and the despite the date, name and championship change, we are still the same great rally everyone has enjoyed in the past. It has all the ingredients of a great weekend of rallying”.
The all-gravel event will enter its 45th year in 2018 and after being renamed the Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages in 2016, will adopt a new title after signing a long-term agreement with leading motorsport firm, Rallynuts.
The popular rally will once again be based in Builth Wells and welcomes the BTRDA Rally Series for the first time since 1990 to the event. Moving from its traditional June date, the Rallynuts Stages has made the shift to a spring slot and will see it form round three of the national gravel championship.
It will also form round four of the Pirelli MSA Welsh Rally Championship and will be joined by the West Wales Rally Spares HRCR Stage Masters and the Brian Dennis Motorsport Welsh Historic Rally Championship.
Becoming title sponsor of the rally in 2016, established racewear and accessory firm Rallynuts Motorsport had continued their support for the event into 2017 and thanks to the success of the past two years, will further enhance the partnership
Managing Director of Rallynuts Paul Bonas is excited at the agreement as the firm enters a phase of expansion at its premises in the Midlands.
“Rallynuts celebrates its 27th birthday next year and what a great way to celebrate by helping to host a round of the fantastic BTRDA Rally Championship and the new name which will see the event being called the Rallynuts Stages Rally “ says Bonas.
“Rallynuts is committed to supporting this event until at least 2023 and we look forward to welcoming many of you to this event so you can share in this fantastic rally experience. Our new Showroom opens soon in Redditch and we would be delighted to welcome everyone to our new facility in the near future.”
“We are entering an exciting phase in the firm’s history and we would encourage anyone in the motorsport fraternity to try us out. We think you will be very pleasantly surprised. We are proud and excited to be part of this new round of BTRDA and welcome our existing championships back to the event. Id like wish everyone involved a great event and every success”.
Connor McCloskey and John Rowan made the trip across the Irish Sea a worthwhile one, taking a dominant win at the Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages this weekend (3rd June) in their Ford Fiesta WRC.
Making it a Fiesta podium lockout, Charles Payne and Carl Williamson took second spot in his new version of the Fiesta WRC with the husband and wife pairing of Martyn and Dawn England rounding off the top three in their R5+ derivative.
Sponsored once again by established race wear and accessory firm Rallynuts Motorsport, the Midland Manor Motor Club organised event started its 44th year with around 90 cars from the Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship and Pirelli MSA Welsh Rally Championship.
Crews contested 44 miles across classic Welsh forests including Crychan and Radnor and endured a largely dry and dusty day with scattered showers ensuring some sections of the stages remained slippery under the trees.
Courtesy of winning the rally in 2013, McCloskey started the event with the coveted number one on the door and was looking for seat time on gravel ahead of the remaining rounds of the season.
Leading from the very first stage, McCloskey opened proceedings with a two second gap on stage one and crossed the finish line at the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells with a 45 second winning margin.
The Northern Irishman enjoyed a trouble free day and was pleased to take his second event win and in the process, took maximum points for his Welsh Rally Championship aspirations.
“It’s been a great day and I`m pleased to head to the Carlisle Rally next weekend with a win under our belts” said rally winner McCloskey at the finish. “We backed off a little over the final loop to conserve the car but the stages have been fantastic today. The car has been faultless too so everything has just come together for us this weekend.”
Charles Payne spent the event getting to grips with his new Fiesta WRC having previously piloted an S2000 version of the car. Needing to adopt a new driving style for the two litre machine, he quickly adapted to his new surroundings and never ventured outside of the podium positions all event long. Payne was “suitably at home” by the time he sprayed the champagne back at Builth Wells in second spot.
Whilst the top two positions remained reasonably static throughout the day, the battle for third spot changed hands several times before settling in the favour of the England’s with quickest time over the final test. Dylan Davies and Llion Williams were the first to challenge for the podium in their Subaru Impreza.
Opening proceedings with a second fastest time, his climb up the leader board was thwarted by a misfire which never left the Welsh pairing during the entire event. Despite a brief trip back up to third on the penultimate stage, Davies was forced to settle for fourth spot.
Taking first in the British Historic Championship, Nick Elliott and Dave Price battled all event long with local man Jason Pritchard and co-driver Phil Clarke with Elliott taking victory by just five seconds after a tense day of competitive driving.
Both driving Ford Escort MK2’s, Pritchard and Elliott swapped seconds on each of the seven tests, with the super-fast Radnor stage deciding the event in the favour of Elliott.”I was a little scrappy this morning which cost us a bit of time but I`m really pleased to have taken another Historic win today” said Elliott.
“I knew Jason would be quick this weekend so its nice to head into the asphalt rounds with a bit of pressure on him for the remainder of the season”.
Steve Bennett and Osian Owen rounded off the top three in the Historic category in their MK2 Escort. With only one event under his belt so far in 2017, Bennett showed no sign of being rusty with several top ten overall times throughout the day, marking his intensions for the remainder of the season.
Clerk of the Course Chris Ashley was delighted with the 2017 event. “Congratulations to Connor for taking his second event win here at the Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages” said Ashley.
“We have received some fantastic feedback from competitors today and it is a credit to our dedicated organising team for producing a first class rally once again. We extend our heartfelt thanks to the volunteer marshals who helped ensure the event ran faultlessly. We also would like to thank our sponsor Rallynuts for all their support and look forward to continuing our relationship for next year’s event and beyond”.
An impressive line-up of names will contest this weekend’s Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages
A top-class entry will head to Builth Wells this weekend as the Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship and Pirelli MSA Welsh Rally Championship converge for the Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages (3rd June).
Sponsored once again by established race wear and accessory firm Rallynuts Motorsport, the Midland Manor Motor Club organised event enters its 44th year and around 90 cars will contest the rally.
Based at the Royal Welsh Showground, the event takes place in the Gwibedog, Cefn, Crychan and Radnor forests with 44 miles of special stages lying in wait. With world class stages on offer, the event has attracted the attentions of competitors from across UK and Ireland. Connor McCloskey brings his stunning Ford Fiesta WRC across the Irish Sea with John Rowan alongside.
The 2013 Severn Valley Stages winner heads to the event in a bid to gain more experience of the Welsh forests and to improve on his 14th spot in the Welsh Championship. He will be one to watch for his second outright victory at the weekend.
BTRDA regular Charles Payne will pilot his new Ford Fiesta WRC, co-driven by Carl Williamson. Payne has a proven record in the Welsh forests, taking a podium spot on the event in 2010 and will undoubtedly be embroiled in a battle for the win with McCloskey.
Dylan Davies and Llion Williams will aim to improve on their current Welsh Championship position in their Subaru Impreza. After winning the Red Kite Stages earlier this year, another win has eluded the Welsh pairing and will be hoping to reverse that at the weekend.
Fellow Subaru Impreza crew Andy Davies and Max Freeman have showed a fine run of form recently, taking their showroom Group N specification version to second in the Welsh Championship. They will be looking to close in on the gap to first.
Also in action this weekend will be event sponsor Rallynuts co-director Craig Cameron in a Subaru Impreza. Co-driven by Chris Rice, Cameron can often be found in the passenger seat for fellow director Paul Bonas but will be behind the wheel this time around.
The eagerly anticipated Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship returns to the event once again and provides rally fans with plenty of action on the stages. Leading the field away are Nick Elliott and Dave Price in their Ford Escort Mk2. Taking three wins from three so far this season, they will aim to make it four in a row as the series turns to asphalt after the Severn Valley Stages, a surface Elliott has perhaps less of an affinity with.
Local hero Jason Pritchard is Elliott’s closest rival and literally crosses the road from the family car dealership to the Royal Welsh Showground rally base. With Phil Clarke in the co-driver’s seat, Pritchard will use his Ford Escort MK2 in the forest closest to his Builth Wells home and hopes to take his first win of the season.
Rudi Lancaster has returned to the sport in recent years after a several decades away, but now is on the edge of his first historic category win in his Escort Mk2. Guy Weaver co-drives for the Devon man and the duo are third crew away.
Spectators will be given plenty of opportunities to catch the action both on and off the stages. Competitors will be flagged away by the Mayor of Builth Wells Town Council at 8.30am on Saturday from the Royal Welsh Showground before heading out to tackle seven challenging stages. Crews will return for service at 10.50am and 1.00pm with the finish celebrations taking place at around 4pm.
Crychan kicks off the spectator stages with its first run at around 9.30am. The forest can be accessed just north east of Cynghordy and with a second pass at 3.00pm, is a popular spot for rally fans.
Radnor offers another chance to watch the cars in action, with one pass of the stage at around 12.15pm. The stage can be accessed off the A488 near Monaughty.
The popular event is also a round of the West Wales Rally Spares HRCR Stage Masters Challenge, FMP Rally Challenge and Brian Dennis Welsh Historic Rally Championship.
Image: Gasmark Media
The 2017 Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages will mark a special occasion for Pembroke resident John Williams, as he returns to the event for the first time in exactly 30 years. After contesting the Welsh Rally Championship back in the 80’s, John retired from active competition due to family commitments and of course costs.
Three decades later, John has decided to return to the event which marked his last outing way back in 1987.
Read his story:
“I started rallying in 1984 at the age of 18 and contested various events until I really went for it on the 1987 Welsh Forestry Championship in my home built MK2 RS2000” he says. “I scored a few good results with a best placing of 3rd overall on a snowy Mid Wales stages and was co driven by Andy Morgan who later went on to co drive for ‘Mad’ Mick Jones.”
John in action on the 1987 Severn Valley Stages
“I was I think lying about 2nd in the championship to Jon Ballinger but by the end of the Severn Valley stages I had big problems with my engine and could not afford to repair it. I just basically run out of money and could see no way of funding it as I was at home on a farm with my father and money was tight so I just sold the car. I loved the sport but could not afford it so just tried to forget about it and would not attend events because of that. I took up other sports in the meantime that were a lot cheaper.”
A sentiment which rings true with many of us of course. However, once a rally driver…always a rally driver.
“In 2014 my new son in law bought a rally car and I went along to help service and I am afraid that was it, the bug came back and within a year I had bought myself a MK1 Escort because I now prefer the look and the history of the Mk1 Escort. I did 4 SV rallies last year to get the feel back but my heart lies in the forests so I am really looking forward to this years SV stages. I think it was my very first forest rally in 1985 as well . My intention is just to get round and relearn all the techniques on how to drive on loose surfaces, you just cannot practice any other way unfortunately but to just do it.”
Organisers of the event wish John the very best of luck.
Main Image: John in action in his MK1 Escort in 2016.