Round 3 of the West Wales Rally Spares HRCR Stage Masters Challenge took to the asphalt roads of Mynydd Epynt, not a venue for the faint hearted but the rally was over subscribed and six registered crews were lucky enough to get a run. Scrutineering took place the day before at a new venue just off the dual carriageway leading onto the ranges. The weather was positively balmy as crews and scrutineers basked in temperatures approaching 20 degrees. This was Epynt though and on the dawn of the rally heavy grey skies and squally showers greeted everyone involved with the rally. Order of the day was 10 short sharp special stages with little time to relax especially in the ever-changing conditions.
A number of new crews joined us for this, the first Challenge asphalt round, and it was Toby Adam and Ian Meakin who were fastest out of the blocks and putting local knowledge to good effect in their rapid BDG powered Mk1 Escort. They continued to excel all day in the wet conditions and finished the day with and equal fifth fastest stage time on the final stage. Credit to them also for stopping at the scene of a particularly nasty accident on stage 3 and dealing with a difficult situation. Baz Wheeler and John Pickavance have made a great commitment to the challenge this year and turned up with their immaculate Metric Services asphalt specification MK 2 Escort. Unfortunately they only completed two stages as head gasket failure intervened and put them out of the rally. With the Manx looming just two weeks later it will be a very busy time! As some consolation Baz is the recipient of the Exol Oil award and will receive 5 litres of their finest lubricant.
Peter Jones and Gareth Davies contested the first two rounds of the Challenge in a Group 4 Mk2 Escort but switched to a TR7 V8 for this round. They drove steadily all day and took home another good set of points. Huw Williams reported no problems with his Peugeot 205 GTi and sung the praises of his new co-driver, son Iorwerth, who was on his first rally and also coping with pace notes for the first time. The Challenge also welcomed three Mini Cup competitors for this round, Andrew O’Hanlon and Kevin Hogan reported a few gear selection problems at service but were all the same going well. Unfortunately the bottom pulley made a bid for freedom and along the way stripped the fan blades which in turn damaged the radiator putting them out of the rally. Similarly Eric Davies and Russ Joseph reported having a good run at first service but then retired in exactly the same spot as O’Hanlon when the fuel pump failed. A switch to the spare made no difference and a break in the wire is suspected. Sailing serenely past this pair were Andy Jarman and Adrian Lloyd who enjoyed themselves immensely and were impressed by the standard of the organisation by Foresters Car Club and Forest of Dean Motor Club. The Challenge now goes on to the Manx Rally for more asphalt fun and a chance to score double points.