JDS Machinery Rali Ceredigion
Well, it was touted as an adventure and it certainly turned out to be for all of the Challenge competitors whether for the good or bad! Rali Ceredigion is in its third year and vying to be a round of the European Rally Championship and as such provided competitors with some epic, yet tricky in places, asphalt special stages. Two stages which included donuts (!) were held on the seafront in Aberystwyth as attempts were made to bring rallying to the general public.
Day one dawned bright and sunny and a loop of three stages preceded a service halt at the local council offices HQ. In trouble straight away were Challenge leaders Baz Wheeler and John Pickavance whose Metric Services Escort RS1800 misfired its was through the stage with a plug lead off. An altercation with a chicane and an off-road excursion on a very deceptive left hand bend also cost valuable time. As this pair floundered it was Hywel Davies who put local knowledge from competing on road rallies to good use and pulled out a healthy advantage from Geoff Roberts, both driving Ford Escort RS1800s. With these crews all contesting class D5 it would be a formality for Graham Muter and Steve Allmark to capitalise and collect maximum points on each day. Sadly this was not to be on day one as they failed to emerge from the first stage. After service all three surviving crews had settled into a rhythm but Davies was worried about a noisy gearbox at the start of stage four. His fears were not unfounded as he ground to a halt halfway through. This left Geoff Roberts to claim maximum points for the day and also scoop the Exol Oil award. Baz Wheeler and John Pickavance soldiered on and claimed more useful points with an eye on having a better Sunday.
Sunday morning arrived and amazingly the weather was even nicer than the day before and Hywel Davies was back in the event having changed the gearbox and re-entered under the Super Rally rules as had Muter and Allmark. Sadly Geoff Roberts took to the scenery on the second stage of the day and played no further part in proceedings, the crew were battered and bruised but the car was not too badly damaged. With Roberts out and Davies carrying a large penalty it was left to Wheeler and Pickavance to pick up maximum points in the class. Muter and Allmark just needed to finish to collect full points and that they did after the disappointment of day one. For the gravel aces the Woodpecker Stages beckons next followed closely by the Three Shires Stages for more closed road asphalt action.