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Dixies Challenge – Zero To Hero

It was a tough day on Epynt for the Dixies challenge – Round 3 of the West Wales Rally Spares HRCR Stage Masters Challenge.

Eleven stages were on offer but by stage 4 most of the pre-event favourites were already back in the service area heading home.

A huge oil leak by one competitor would see two stages cancelled on safety grounds as the 350 metres stretch of road was deemed too dangerous, and like a skating rink.

Well-done to Eric Davis and Russell Joseph who were the first contenders home after a day of ups and downs for most of the 12 registered crews taking part.

It wasn’t all plain sailing with a driveshaft and oil cooler problem slowing them on one loop of stages.

The Forest of Dean crew wanted to put the first round behind them, when they failed to even start the AGBO Stages. But, a few weeks later the rallying cards dealt them maximum points and finishing top among much more powerful machinery.

Winner of the last forest round Jason Gardner was setting some good times in the Pinto Ford Escort Mk2, until he was spotted pulled over to the side of the road near the quarry after just two stages.

Here would also be disappointment for Jeff Wincott and Noel Murphy looking to extend their lead in the Shawn Rayner Escort Cup but that would all go to pot when they were seen being towed into service with a blown engine after four stages.

It was a welcome return to Wayne Bonsor and Rich Aston, who had until this point in the season been without a car, after selling their trusty Ford Escort Mark 1 they had finally put together the Ford Escort Mark 2 with shakedown consisting of a drive between the trailer park and service area. They already had dramas on the way to the first stage when an oil pump belt came off, this was repaired, and they continued if a little down the order, but they failed to come out for the afternoon loop of stages.

Gwilym Roberts also made a welcomed return in his Ford Escort Mk 1 the farmer from Dolgellau reported a slight misfire which when cured enabled him to catch two cars on one stage, he had to follow one till the end after it failed to spot him, and he couldn’t get passed. Again, he would be another not to make it to the end, this time with an electrical problem.

With most of the favourites no by the wayside it was a chance for the category one cars and Minis to shine but it wouldn’t be without problems.

Shane Gamble and Bob Ward had to do a loop of stages limping through with a broken driveshaft.

They had no other problems to report but would not be seen after stage 8.

Dan Nieroda was back out in the Mini as Stuart Anderson continues to struggle getting the Vauxhall Chevette out after last year’s Manx off. For Dan’s driver Stephen Robinson it would be his first time on notes which he coped with as their times got faster but they would be another crew beset this time with a box of neutrals half way through the final stage.

Ken Davies and Alan Jones were in their own words literally ‘flying’, as they got to grips with the Ford Lotus Cortina GT. Their only drama was in the afternoon when on the Burma Road rounding a building they decided to pay a visit to a ditch, but they popped back out to finish first in category one.

RESULTS

Eric Davis / Russell Joseph Mini 1275 Clubman 43 mins 57 secs
Stephen Powell / Jamie Hawkins Hillman Avenger 44 mins 16 secs
Ken Davies / Alan Jones Ford Cortina GT 45 mins 49 secs
Barry Stenhouse / Lee Sellers Mini 49 mins 47 secs

Retired

Pete Ellerby / Ben Anderson Mini Gearbox
Jason Gardner / Dan Petrie Ford Escort Mk 2 Engine
Jeff Wincott / Noel Murphy Ford Escort Mk 2 Seized engine
Wayne Bonser / Rich Aston Ford Escort Mk 2 Retired
Gwilym Roberts / Debby Myers Ford Escort Mk 1 Electrical
Colin McDowell / Brynmoor Pierce Mini Differential
Shane Gamble / Bob Ward Mini Retired
Stephen Robinson / Dan Nieroda Mini Gearbox
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