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A ‘Littler’ Bit More….

A tough and long day greeted crews for the 2019 Plains Rally which was a case of endurance and picking your way through the tracks which in some cases had turned into rubble.

 

Pete Littler is trying to get as much seat time as possible and had to make some big changes to the rear end suspension after a disappointing time on the RallyNuts stages. The changes had improved the car into a different beast and his was able to maintain some top two-wheel drive times.

 

Not having any luck at this present time is Stuart Anderson and Kenny Owen in the Gp4 Vauxhall Chevette, which has had no mechanical problems in 4-years. But, for the second time in a week they would go no further than stage one with the car parked up, and on further investigation it seems as though a damaged oil pipe was the culprit.

 

Another to retire early in the first service was the Peugeot 205 of Freddy Camp and Gareth Drayton. The North Devon pair were looking forward to the stages, but various delays meant they did not start stage one until after midday but by two o’clock they would already have the car on the trailer and heading home after mechanical problems.

 

Back on the stages and Andrew Stokes and Adrian McNally would secure a lonely second place after Mike Simpson and Dale Gibbons had to back off a considerable amount when they hit a boulder in the second running of the rough and unsuitable tracks in Aberhirnant, where they got a puncture and bent the steering but persevered to claim some well-earned points.

 

Rob Williams was trying to build confidence in his immaculate RS2000 prepared by Phil Mills and the team at Viking motorsport. On only his second event back in the woods after a 20-year absence. He was ably guided round by Iestyn Williams learning a lot about the cars handling and about different tyre choices. Unfortunately, the stage conditions did not allow much confidence to be gained.

 

If anyone was to suffer it would be Richard Phillipson and Jack Ramsey in the mini, hey reported having a great day with no overshoots or dramas as they picked their way through the rubble. Jack did admit to getting lost a few times on the notes but was happy with his performance considering it was his first ever stage rally

 

Rally 4 Wales statement regarding the Plains Rally – Aberhirnant Stage Conditions:

There’s been a lot of discussion (rightly) about the road conditions within Aberhirnant on the Plains Rally – particularly from J5 to J8 yesterday. We feel that we need to make a statement about those conditions.

R4WC staff were both competing and performing official duties on the event. We are incredibly disappointed to read the negative reports from competitors and marshals about the Aberhirnant stage.

For clarity, Rally4Wales Contracts Ltd have previously completed extensive repairs works in this stage on all sections of the route used yesterday including rolling, grading and putting stone into some sections. However, since our last repair work was completed in 2018 a private civils contractor working on behalf of Natural Resources Wales and it’s harvesting contractors has placed significant amounts of large, coarse and heavy stone in places. This is done to support forest roads damaged by the constant passage of HGV’s performing timber extraction. Whilst as rally competitors this is wholly unacceptable – we can’t blame other civils contractors for doing ‘a job to an agreed spec’ which is what they have done in this instance.

We’ll be in the stage tomorrow with NRW (Monday) to assess the damage and the repair work needed. There’s a substantial amount of work for us to do to try and put this right ahead of future events use.

We’ve worked tirelessly since 2016 to restore competitor confidence in the Welsh forests as being some of the very best you’ll find in the UK. We share everyone’s frustration and anger over the conditions found.

We are not here to blame organisers however. We get to see how situations like yesterday unfold and we have said time and time again that the process of how routes are chosen for rallying in Wales has to evolve and modernise urgently. Yesterday, many of us will have seen the evidence as to why this so desperately needs to happen.

Stage Master Results Overall.

35th Pete Littler / Andy Marchbank Ford Escort Mk 2 0:47:52
48th Andrew Stokes / Adrian McNally Ford Escort MK 1 0:49:26
55th Mike Simpson / Dale Gibbons Ford Escort RS2000 0:51:35
73rd Rob Williams / Iestyn Williams Ford Escort MK 1 0:53:40
76th Ken Davies / Alan Jones Volvo Amazon 0:55:07
84th Richard Phillipson / Jack Ramsey Mini 1:01:11

Retirments:

Stuart Anderson / Kenny Owens Vauxhall Chevette retired stage one oil pipe

Fred Camp / Gareth Drayton Peugeot 205 retired at service reason unknown

 

Thanks to Chris Huish RallySport Media for the photographs