By Allan Cathers
After our promising run on the Argyll Rally a couple of weeks ago came to nothing. We picked up double front punctures on the third stage while leading the rally by 13 seconds and the car was beached in a ditch while trying to drive out slowly in Road mode.
Anyway we decided to try the Nicky Grist Stages which is a BTRDA round based in the heart of mid Wales. This was only Rory’s second time in Wales and his first time in the classic Wales Rally GB Stages of Route 60, Halfway and Crychan, although over the years I have competed there many times with some success, however the last time was 2002!
We were using a Dommy Buckley RSC prepared 2018 Ford Fiesta R5 as usual backed by Scottish Christmas Trees.
The event was based at the show ground in Builth Wells with a ceremonial Town start. The first stage was a totally new gravel road built on the ranges just South of Builth Wells called Lyn Login. Rory always goes well straight from the off and we emerged from stage 1 in second place, 2 secs behind Tom Cave and 1 second in front of Matt Edwardcs. However on the 2nd Stage Route 60, we had a couple of costly spins and due to the dust we were creating we dropped around 25 seconds. This dropped us well down the leaderboard but we continued to try through the next two stages and by the half way service point we had climbed back to 5th o/a, despite another heart stopping moment on Stage 3 Halfway.
The second half of the rally was a re-run of the mornings 4 stages. Tom Cave was leading from Matt Edwards, with Luke Francis in third, Martyn England fourth, us 5th with Stephen Petch in 6th snapping at our heels.
Over the next 3 Stages we pushed really hard, but the times were close and going into the last stage we were only 2 seconds away from 4th place. Our tyres had started to wear badly and at the auxiliary service we fitted two new to the front which was all we had available. We pushed hard through the last stage and a combination of a rare mistake from Martyn English and trying hard meant we moved up to 4th at the end. It had been a fairly hairy ride through the last stage due to badly worn back tyres, but we made it. Quite happy with salvaging a good result we headed back to the final control at Builth Wells where Tom Cave who was second, drove his car on the trailer and didn’t visit the final control. Reported as a rare co-driver error, this mistake elevated us onto the podium and 3rd Overall and 3rd BTRDA.
Our next planned events are on tarmac this year with the Tyneside Stages next and Rallye Mont Blanc in Morzine, France as our final outing.