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Rallynuts 2024 Report

What a fantastic day for our crews on the second round of the West Wales Rally Spares HRCR Stage Masters Challenge, the Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages. After weeks of rain the sun shone on the Friday before the rally and everyone was hopeful that it would last into the Saturday of the rally. Sadly it was not to be and although the rain wasn’t too bad there was fog and ever changing conditions to deal with. The Rally nuts Severn Valley Stages was celebrating its 50th anniversary and extra mileage was included for no extra cost. As a result the entry was heavily oversubscribed despite 180 places being available. Included in the entry this year were a number of Icelandic crews and two Dutch/Belgian crews, one of which was Jos Verstappen, father of current F1 champion Max. Luckily all our registered contenders made the cut with the newly signed crew of Jack Thorne and Dan Morefield accepted off the reserve list at the eleventh hour. The stages were all classics, Sarnau, Tarennig, Myherin, Sweetlamb and Hafren were all used in one combination or another but the weather conditions and harvesting operations made Myherin particularly difficult with fog and logs being the hot topic of conversation when crews arrived back at Builth Wells for service.

There were 17 Challenge crews out and with 10 of them in the D5 class there was all to play for. Amazingly there was a 100% finishing record for the our contenders albeit with some drama along the way for one or two. Quickest out of the blocks were the experienced Rudi Lancaster and Guy Weaver in the Woolacombe Bay RS1800, apart from the universally disliked fog this pair had an impeccable day to claim another set of maximum class points. Equalling them on the points table are Paul Holmes and Elizabeth Beesley in their D3 Escort but Paul and Elizabeth will soon start to score reduced points as they are the only contenders in their class. Their luck wasn’t so good on the Friday night though as their van was broken in to and a number of power tools stolen. Runners up in the D5 class were Jack Thorne and Dan Morefield who put a proper shift in to split Rudi and the Escort RS1800 of the current champions Baz Wheeler and John Pickavance. These two crews were delayed by a red flag incident on the final stage and plummeted down the order until a notional time was sorted out shortly before the results were made final!

Rob Dennis went well too in his RS1800 but there were a number of crews snapping at his heels throughout the day but none quite getting there. Newly signed contender Gareth Bevan with Jordan Jones reading the notes were going extremely well for the first 2 stages but an issue with the car meant that they had to Super Rally for the rest of the day but still took some points for tenth in class. Mike Simpson and Dale Gibbons reported no problems to take fifth in the class with Lee Ashberry and Ian Jones a handful of seconds behind them. Seventh was John Morgan and Llinos Jones-Edwards, their fuel injected Fairfield Motor Company RS1800 suffered with clutch issues in the morning and a misfire. At service they managed to get the clutch back and changed the plugs which seemed to cure the misfire and give them the finish that they desired. Phil and Mick Squires must know these stages backwards after so many years competing but that didn’t stop them having a heart stopping moment where they teetered on the edge of leaving the road, experience getting them out of trouble on the way to eighth in class. Steve Ward and Phil Sandham took ninth spot and again it was the dreaded fog that held them back a little in the morning.

Jonathan Brace and Paul Spooner resumed normal service in their class C5 RS1600 and took a full haul of points, Ben and Steven Smith were absent from this rally but will return for the Manx. Andy Stokes took second again with Jonny Tad Evans and were their usual smiling, happy selves with nothing untoward to report.

The Triumph TR7 V8 of Graham Thatcher and Tim Samuel took D4 honours as Stuart Anderson withdrew in the week before due to a sickness bug. The big TR is a favourite with the spectators and the driver is almost as big a character as the car! This left the C2 class and with Tony Jardine electing to miss this one it was Jeremy Wells who took a full set of points with Devonians Freddy Camp and Stephen Spear runners up. There are now two tar rounds, one on Epynt and one on the Isle of Man which is a double scoring opportunity before a return to the woods for the Plains Rally.