Last weekends Winner Garage Skoda Wyedean Stages Rally in association with KGD Services provided a real challenge for the competitors, but local crews dominated the top 10 overall and class awards on a thoroughly tough day in the classic forests of Speech House, Serridge and Maliscot.
Rain, sleet, and the autumn leaves left the gravel roads extremely slippery for the 85 starters who left the Vantage Point start in Mitcheldean on Saturday morning for the 42 miles of competition.
But it was former Welsh champion Alex Allingham and Ross Weir first time out in a brand new Dave Jenkins Motorsport built Escort RS1800 who finished top local crew with a superb 2nd overall, just 60 seconds off top spot in the Weir rallying, Weotec, Weir Laundry Equipment backed car, after a fantastic 3 way battle with the similar cars of Nick Elliott and Welsh youngster Tom Llewellin, but after Elliott retired on stage 5,it was left to Allingham to pull away from Llewellin who finished 3rd overall.
"It's been a very good day for us, the car hasn't missed a beat which is credit to Dave and the team, thanks to everyone involved today, its not been pleasant out there for those marshal's in the forests, we do appreciate what you do." said a delighted Ross Weir.
Just behind this was another intriguing battle with another 4 local crews going at it hammer and tongs, but it was the Griffiths Engineering Escort of Mark Griffiths and Matt Rogers who emerged to take a superb 4th overall & 1st in class, despite a spin and a trip to the scenery in Maliscot, Ben Friend and Cliffy Simmons finally ended there disastrous run of retirements with 5th and 1st in class in the Allglass Escort RS1800, using the event to gear themselves up for the 5 day RAC Rally at the end of the month.
"I can honestly say that was one of the most slippery Wyedean's I've ever done, there was zero grip most of the time but great fun, great event ." said Cliffy
Just behind them were Tim Freeman and Paul Williams who took 6th in the TL Freeman backed Escort RS1800, just 15 seconds in 7th were another local crew that of Jason Gardner and Mike Jode in the Brecon View Plumbing Escort RS1800, despite the starter motor failing after stage 1, needing to bump start the car, but this was soon sorted, also a change on to more suitable tyres in the afternoon helped secure a top 10 finish.
Steve Black and Paul Morris continued there run of success with a easy class win and 13th overall in the SBG Group Suzuki Swift, despite an off and a puncture on the final stage.
Roger Matthews had a late change of co-driver with Ryan Taylor steeping into the seat, Taylor better known as a driver for being one of front runners in HRCR Mini Cup, Matthews was another who was using the event as a RAC shakedown, finished 23rd & 4th in class in the RJ Matthews Transport RS1600.
Keith Bounds and Kevin Watkins had a very good run in only there second event in the Subaru Impreza to finish 29th overall & 4th in class.
Wyedean veterans Eric Davis with Russ Joseph on the notes, lit up the stages yet again in the Dennis Motorsport Mini GT, the Drybrook resident so very nearly didn't make the start after engine issues saw some very late nights, but the ever popular Davis finished 32nd and 6th in class.
Husband and wife duo James and Kelly Dunkley in the Dunkley Auto Services Vauxhall Corsa didn't get off to the best of starts with a big moment in Speech House after clobbering a bank, but Kelly then got a swishy stick and made James behave, and they were rewarded with 34th overall and 1st in class.
Just 12 seconds behind in 35th were Lee Trueman and Sam Hughes in the ME Damsell backed Subaru, this being Sam, s first ever rally.
Cinderford duo Paul Simmonds and Mark Wheeler finished 38th and 8th in class in the Signs by Samurai Mk 1 Escort on there first event for over 12 months just 8 seconds behind were Tim Truman with Dave Troughton calling the notes they took 40th overall and 5th in class in the Focus ST.
The ever smiling Ken Davis with Alan Jones on the notes, in the beautiful KGD Services Volvo Amazon were another crew to escape a brush with the undergrowth in stage one, but survived to finish 48th and 3rd in class.
Top lady driver on her first ever rally was Beth Harris with Matt Nicholas alongside in her Peugeot 1.6 GTI, she put in a superb drive to finish 51st & 4th in class.
Mark Christopher and Ryan Gibson were one place behind Harris in 52nd & 5th in class in the Forest Auto Salvage Citroen C2.
On his first gravel rally young Luke Watts walked away with 1st in class ablely guided by the experienced Colin Jenkins the NJ Auto Repairs /Ian Watts & Son, Sally, s Florists, Forest of Dean Tyres, backed 1.0 Toyota Yaris, the car never missed a beat to finish 53rd.
"That was daunting but great fun, by Maliscot I was running first car on the road so I was the one finding the bad bits, very well pleased with the result, a big thank you to my sponsors, Colin for sitting next to me, to Nigel Jenkins for the hours he spent getting the car ready, to Dave Jenkins Motorsport for looking after the car, to Martyn Walby, Liam Smith, and Paul Mainwaring for looking after us and to everyone involved in the rally a massive thank you. ". Said Luke
The Escort RS of Mike Truman and Martha Howells took 56th & 4th in class in another ME Damsell backed car, this being Martha's first ever event and despite the slippery conditions the duo enjoyed themselves.
A further 8 seconds back were another pair of rally debutants Dan Troughton and Jonathan Griffiths in the 1200 Hyundai i20 these two survived the tricky conditions to finish 57th and 2nd in class
After breaking a shaft less than a mile into stage 1,husband and wife duo Nigel and Karen Jenkins, returned via the super rally rule for the final 3 tests, to set some impressive times in the NJ Auto Repairs/ME Damsell backed Nova, the car now armed with a rebuilt engine and sequential gearbox so mileage was important but they finished 59th and 2nd in class..
Those not fortunate to finish included Nigel Drew and Pauline Nash in the NPD Plant /Calico Interiors Subaru Impreza, these two had a storming run to lie 6th overall after the morning loop, but a heavy roll in on stage 4 in Speech House, ended there rally, both swiftly received medical attention and were taken to hospital to be checked over but both released on Saturday evening.
Pauline said". We would like to thank everyone who came to our aid so rapidly and the competitors who stopped to help, despite a few bumps and bruises were both OK. "
Gary and Tom Bollards were another crew to retire early on in the GB Motorservices Subaru Estate
Charles Hopkinson with Gavin Haycock alongside retired there Escort RS1800 with rear axle problems.
The overall event winners were Matthew Hirst and Declan Dear in the Lancer Evo 9 the duo were also crowned Welsh National Rally champions for 2019.
The first 3 cars overall were all run by local preparation expert Dave Jenkins Motorsport an exceptional feat in motorsport circles.
But the event was a credit to the new team of organisers, but importantly the Wyedean is back on the British rallying calendar and hopefully here to stay for many more years yet.
Paul Willetts Motorsport Media