Just because it was the deciding Championship rally of the season that didn’t mean that the competitors were going to have an easy time of it. A full field including such luminaries as Phil Mills (WRC 2003 winner) and David Richards CBE (Motorsport UK, Prodrive, F1 Benetton/BAR Team Principle, Aston Martin etc etc) gathered at the Druids Inn Llanferres to put last years event behind us and strive to ensure this years would be a great success. 62 cars departed the pub for the short drive down the road to the first test which, fittingly, was the same as last year. First blood to the Championship contenders Tom and Roger Bricknell, who managed just 37 seconds, 1 second over the bogey.
Onwards then to Reg 1, a pre-plot from the road book. A tricky one to start with, even some of the top cars picking up 1 minute penalties but rising above the rest was car 6 in the familiar shape of a midnight blue Mercedes 280 SL with Ian Crammond and Matthew Vokes back together once again.
Test 2 then beckoned at Mynydd Helygain called “up the drive” and that’s exactly what it was . Car 2 with Dermot Carnegie and Paul Bosdet in an Escort RS2000 managed to pick up the bogey. Test two finish though was Reg 2 start time so lots of button pressing as we came to a halt on the stop astride. This was a long Jogularity so no plotting but 4 pages of descriptions to get through and 7 time checks. It was car 6 again who was on fire with just 8 seconds of errors over the Reg to come out on top.
Then it was our first of three trips to the cattle market where sporadic showers caused some entertainment on the “slippery when wet” concrete. However it was car 2 that shone through again winning both tests.
Finally some respite with a quick comfort break and a rapid coffee for the drivers but feverish activity for the navs checking their plotting for Reg 3 given out at the start of Reg 1. Reg 3 was a combination of map symbols and letters with sufficient speed changes to keep everyone honest. Car 27, Andrew Johnson with Dave Boyes alongside in a Lancia Fulvia secured the best performance with 8 seconds of penalties.
Onwards then to Wern Ddu Quarry for some loose surface action on the tight and twisty surface that involved steep downslopes and convoluted sections of slalom. We had two goes at that just to make sure we got it right with the fastest being Car 1, Darell and Nicky Staniforth in a Morris Mini Cooper the first time round and Carnegie/ Bosdet taking it on the second.
Reg 4 was 10 miles of map features issued in the roadbook so on the transit to the start the navs could plot Reg 5, no peace. Another win for car 27.
Back then to the auction market for another double header before lunch with Car 70 Barry Moore and Richard White in a Mini 1275Gt making an appearance at the top of board with 1:04 but situation normal was resumed on test 8 with Carnegie/Bosdet back on top.
The leaders at lunch were Championship contender Richard Isherwood with Nick Bloxham alongside in a VW GTI just two seconds ahead of the formidable Crammond/Vokes partnership. However the Brickenell’s run was over as problems with an oil pick up pipe saw the end of their rally and a long trip back to Bodmin. The Staniforth’s were off the pace in 9th and would have to up their game if they were to trouble the leaders.
Richard Isherwood and Nick Bloxham, Leaders at Lunch. Photo by Tony North
After lunch it was onto Reg 5 with part one, a long herring bone, issued at MC 2(morning Coffee) and then part 2 a Deelarity at MC 4 (lunch out). Also in the mix was a speed table with the changes indicated given out, just to add to the workload. Fairly straightforward you would think but two “Do not follow signs to Mold” instructions caught out quite a few. Those who were compliant found the two timing points tucked away in two separate farmyards. Those that didn’t picked up a 2 minute 30 second penalty as a reward for each one missed. There was a slightly confusing end to the Reg as there were 9 timing points on the time card but only 8 appeared before the end of the reg. However closer inspection of the ideal times showed just the 8 so panic over.
Straight onto Reg 6 then with spectacular views over North Wales and the lakes for those who had the time to sightsee! This time it was Car 3, Paul Wignall and Mark Appleton in the lovely Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint who came away with the lowest points, just 10 seconds.
The grass of test 9 would test everyone as the slippery conditions and slopes combined with the 360’s was more of a slow moving ballet than a test of speed. Gracing the honours was Car 62, the VW Golf GTi of Mike McGoun and Rob Stephens in just 2 minutes and 16 seconds.
Another rapid coffee stop that was MC5 gave the drivers a breather but once again the navs were flat out checking the plot for the final Reg, Reg 7 given at MC4. Before that though it was test 10 at Ty’n-Y-Coed farm with some tight manoeuvring around the farmyard and then trying to pick up the code letters at the strategically place code boards along the track. This produced another car to the top this time it was car 69 Deion Atkinson and Dominic Spiller in a Ford Escort.
Reg 7 obviously wasn’t difficult enough for some with 3 cars achieving just 6 secs apiece. Back then to the auction mart for the last hurrah. Same location but different tests and this time things had dried out a little so the times were getting faster. The Staniforth’s in the Mini took test 11 and once more it was the duo of Carnegie and Bosdet who took the final honours.
Back then to the Druids Inn for refreshments and the all-important results. It had been a long and challenging day for all the crews but in the end it was the familiar black Mercedes of Ian Crammond with Matthew Vokes that took the honours and securing Matthew as Championship Navigator for the second year in a row. In second were Dermot Carnegie and Paul Bosdet with those fabulous test times and in third, Richard Isherwood and Nick Bloxham thus securing Richard the Clubmans Drivers Championship. Many congratulations to both Matthew and Richard.
First Expert home in a very creditable 10th position was Peter Engel with BMC’s Mark Dunkerley in the hot seat whilst first Novices were Paul and James Bloxidge in 23rd overall.
Credit must of course be given to Andy Darlington and his team for creating a tough and challenging rally that tested all who competed. Last year is now a distant memory for most and so here’s to many more successful VoCC’s in the future.
Vale of Clwyd winners Ian Crammond with Matthew Vokes the 2019 Clubmans Championship Navigator. Picture by Tony North
I nearly forgot the dream team of Phil Mills and David Richards who came in 30th,a very worthy achievement I’m sure you will agree.
A full set of results can be found at rallyroots.com.
|1||6||Ian Crammond and Matthew Vokes||Mercedes Benz 280 SL|
|2||2||Dermot Carnegie and Paul Bosdet||Ford Escort RS2000|
|3||9||Richard Isherwood and Nick Bloxham||VW Golf GTi|
|4||20||Ted Gaffney and Bob Hargreaves||VW Golf|
|5||11||Paul Dyas and Martyn Taylor||Volvo Amazon|
|6||17||Harvey Steele and Martin Pitt||Volvo 144|
|7||1||Darell and Nicky Staniforth||Morris Mini Cooper S|
|8||3||Paul Wignall and Mark Appleton||Alfa Romeo Giulietta|
|9||28||Stephen Owens and Richard Lambley||Porsche 911 SWB|
|10||42||Peter Engel and Mark Dunkerley||VW Golf GTi|
PS Great to see David R Smith and Norden Lester back out again after their incident earlier in the season. Here’s hoping 2020 will be a better year for them.