Eighteen-year-old Elliot Payne stormed to his first-ever overall rally win on Saturday, claiming a start-to-finish victory at the Rallynuts Stages Rally [13 November].
Payne and co-driver Patrick Walsh would open up an impressive ten second lead on the opening stage of the event and enjoyed a start to finish lead, threading their Ford Fiesta Rally2 through the tricky mid-Wales forests tests with ultimate precision.
Payne held that advantage until the last, finishing ahead of Callum Black and Tom Woodburn who claimed second place, whilst Garry Pearson and Niall Burns grabbed a last-breath final podium spot to scoop an unequalled array of titles in 2021.
The Rallynuts Stages Rally had been forced into a two-year break due to the pandemic but made a welcome return in 2021, albeit on a new November date. The Midland Manor Motor Club organised rally was once again based at Builth Wells and would offer over forty-two miles of competitive action in the Myherin, Sweet Lamb and Hafren Forests for the 120 strong entry.
The event would also mark the final round of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series and Pirelli Motorsport UK Welsh Rally Championship and with both titles undecided, the event’s six stages would prove critical in the fight for top honours.
Payne would take no prisoners on his quest to round out a buoyant season in style, edging a ten second lead over Black on the opener with Russ Thompson and Tom Murphy an impressive third after the first run in Myherin. Crucially, Pearson, who was fighting with Black for the titles, had a slow start down in fifth in his Skoda Fabia R5.
With the second test red-flagged, the third stage saw Pearson retaliate and set the scratch time, seven seconds faster than anyone else to vault into second place and return to the forefront of the championship fight as crews headed into service.
Another fastest time from Payne on the fourth test saw him extend his lead and with a mature drive well beyond his years over the remaining stages, did all he needed to do to take his very first rally win.
Eyes were also on the all-important title fights and the fourth test provided a curveball for Pearson’s hopes. The Scot punctured a tyre on his Skoda to drop a minute to his rivals, leaving him an uphill battle over the final two stages.
Black moved his Ford Fiesta R5 into the pound seat and should the rally end on the spot, Black could claim the spoils with his second place. However, Pearson was on a charge, moving from fifth to third on the final stage by a single second and in the process scooped the BTRDA and Welsh titles to add to his Scottish and British National accolades.
Ian Bainbridge and Will Atkins secured fourth overall after a brief spell in the podium positions in their Skoda Fabia R5 whilst James Wilson and Arthur Kierans made the trip over from Ireland a worthwhile one to secure fifth spot despite the loss of fifth gear in their Fiesta Rally2 over the closing stages of the event.
An impressive run from British Rally Championship contender Osian Pryce saw him take the two-wheel-drive honours and a sensational ninth overall in a historic specification Ford Escort MKII with Steven Brown on the notes. Pryce beat local hero and Builth Wells’ own Jason Pritchard and co-driver Phil Clarke to the spoils, the pairing finished in twelfth spot.
Richard Jordan and James Gratton-Smith scooped the BTRDA 1400 win with an excellent run to 31st overall in their MG ZR whilst second in the category was enough to give Steve Black and Paul Morris the Bronze Star crown in their Suzuki Swift.
In a challenging day of action in the forests, just eighty-nine crews would make it to the finish at Builth Wells Showground with the weather and conditions taking their toll on many contenders.
Event organisers will now have a quick turnaround, as the 2022 event makes a return to the traditional April slot as the motorsport calendar beings to return to normal. The Rallynuts Stages Rally will run on Saturday 9th April 2022 and is once again a round of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series and Pirelli Motorsport UK Welsh Rally Championship with more expected to be announced shortly.
More information on next year’s event will follow in the coming months.
Full results can be found at www.rallynutstagesrally.co.uk