Author Archives: Howard Wilcock


Preview of Round 4: Plains Rally – 12th May.

On their way to claiming the 2017 BTRDA Gold Star® Championship crown, Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson won the Plains Rally outright in their Fiesta WRC and, as they continue with a very robust defence of their title, a similar result on the fourth round of the 2018 JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series would do very nicely, thank you!

Solid runs on both the Cambrian and Rallynuts Stages Rallies have put Petch/Wilkinson into 2nd place in the Championship points, almost within touching distance of the current leaders, Paul Bird/Jack Morton (Ford Focus WRC).  However, the ‘men of the moment’ are Matt Edwards/Darren Garrod who not only took their M-Sport prepared Fiesta to victory on the Rallynuts Stages but then followed it up with a similar result on the opening round of the British Rally Championship, the Pirelli Rally, at the end of April.  As a result they are seeded at No 1 on the Plains Rally and but for problems experienced on the Cambrian Rally, they would be arriving in Welshpool for the Plains as Gold Star leaders themselves….. The photo above is of Matt and Darren (Fiesta R5) – on their wat to victory on the Rallynuts Stages Rally.   (Image courtesy of Malcolm Almond)

Another crew to experience difficulties on the season-opener – in this case leading to a DNF – were Luke Francis/John Roberts who are sampling Fiesta WRC power for the first time this year. They went some way to putting their BTRDA campaign back on track with 2nd overall on the Rallynuts Stages, but now need to do it all over again to keep up with the leaders. Having forsaken their Mitsubishi Lancer, Sacha Kakad/James Aldridge have also joined the ever growing ranks of Fiesta R5 owners but its debut on the Cambrian was very short-lived after their particular example developed starter motor problems prior to the opening stage. Steve Simpson/Mark Glennerster (Fiesta S2000) will be hoping to emulate, or even improve on, the 5th place they attained the last time they contested the event together in 2016.  However, one crew who will be absent from the line-up are 2009 Plains winner Hugh Hunter and co-driver Rob Fagg who will be defending their victory on the 2017 Manx National Rally which, this year, takes place over the same weekend.

Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9) have come out on top of the BTRDA Production Cup contenders on both occasions so far and will, no doubt, be looking to continue this trend on the Plains Rally. Their main rivals, Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence and Tom Naughton/Will Rogers have registered one DNF apiece and, consequently, have a spot of catching up to do! Meanwhile, unlike these three Lancer EVO crews, Jon Ross/Martin Auskerin have put their faith in a Subaru Impreza for their challenge and, so far, it has rewarded them with a couple of good points scores.

Although it’s still early days, James Giddings/Sion Cunniff lead the race to become MRF Fiesta ST Trophy champions but, prior to the Plains, Kalvin Green/Osian Owen are only three points behind them. Trophy winners on the Cambrian Rally, Zak Hughes/Tom Wood, suffered the indignity of a retirement on the Rallynuts Stages and now need a result to regain their momentum. However, several others, including the likes of Mat Tordoff, Martin Laverty and Richard Wells, would all like a say in how the situation pans out this time!

Two events, two different winners so far in the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Silver Star® Championship – and both crews feature in the starting line-up for the Plains. John Rowlands/Glenn Latham took first blood in their Escort, while Rob Dennis/Andy Boswell (see picture) did likewise on the Rallynuts Stages. Dennis leads the table from Ulsterman Owen McMackin whose bigger-engined Escort is up against the similar car of Ieuan Rowlands/Emyr Hall who performed a giant-killing act on the event last year by finishing 10th overall and first two-wheel drive, more than two minutes in front of their nearest rivals!

Andy Davison/Tom Murphy will be bringing their rapid Talbot Sunbeam VXR and, having been absent from the Rallynuts Stages, Barry Jordan returns with his Hillman Avenger. Ernie Graham/Robin Kellard maintain a vice-like grip on the BTRDA Historic Cup in their Escort, while Tom Coughtrie’s Mitsubishi Galant VR4 is exerting a similar level of dominance in Class H4.


On the subject of superiority, George Lepley has taken his Fiesta to maximum points scores on both rounds of the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup so far but, close behind, Jack Leese (Peugeot 208) and Bob Vardy (Fiesta) are tying for 2nd place. None of them will need reminding that even a minor indiscretion on the Plains Rally could result in a vastly different look to the leaderboard by the end of the day!…  It’s also interesting to note that Tommi Meadows has upgraded from his 1400cc Ka to an R2 Fiesta for the Plains – he’s obviously got his eye on the free entry to Wales Rally GB which will go to the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup leader after the Woodpecker Stages in September.

                                                                                     George Lepley / Tom Woodburn (Fiesta R2) on the Rallynuts Stages  > > >

Perry Gardener’s Vauxhall Nova leads the BTRDA 1400 Championship after two rounds, but he must be very wary of the two driver/car combinations that have already scored maximums. Having had a fantastic run on the Cambrian Rally, finishing second 2WD car on the day, Chris Powell/Jim Lewis’s Talbot Sunbeam let them down on the Rallynuts Stages. Hopefully, the severe dressing down it’ll have received, once recovered to its Hereford base, has been heeded and will now take its crew to further glory on the Plains Rally…. Then Perry has fellow Ludlow crew Dave & Toby Brick to contend with – having sat out the Cambrian, the father and son took their Vauxhall Corsa to the top step of the podium last time out and will be looking to repeat the exercise on the Plains. Meanwhile, Kieran Darrington’s return to the sport continues – a successful run on the Rallynuts Stages to 2nd 1400 in his trusty Corsa and he, too, will be heading for Welshpool.

BTRDA Rally First Championship contestants Matt Baddeley and Guy Butler started the Rallynuts Stages one minute apart in their identical Toyota Corollas and, by the finish, the gap had reduced to a mere 15s! The main difference here was that it was Baddeley’s second score while Butler had retired from the opening encounter. Sam & Liam Johnson (Seat Arosa), who showed the others the way home on the Cambrian, are back for more and, following successive retirements, Richard Ingleby/Alex Booth will be encouraging their MG ZR to get them to the finish this time!

The first car leaves the start of the Plains Rally in Welshpool at 8.00am on Saturday 12th May and 8 special stages await the 125-car entry. The organisers, Knutsford & District Motor Club Ltd., are delighted that, for the first time for 14 years, they’ve been able to include stages in Dyfnant forest and extend their gratitude to the various agencies that have made this possible.

The first car is then due back in Welshpool for the finish at 6.00pm.

Images courtesy of Kevin Money and Malcolm Almond.




Preview of Round 3: (2nd event)  Rallynuts Stages – 14th April.

For the first time since 1989, the Rallynuts Stages (or ‘Severn Valley’ as it was known prior to the involvement of its current sponsor) features in the JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series and, following the unfortunate cancellation of the Malcolm Wilson Rally due to the effects of the ‘Beast from the East’, moves up to become effectively the second event in the calendar. The organisers, Midland Manor Motor Club Ltd, have attracted a quality entry of 130 crews who will be heading for the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells on 14th April.

Coincidentally, the Top Three finishers from the 2017 Rallynuts Stages – Connor McCloskey/John Rowan, Charlie Payne/Carl Williamson and Martyn & Dawn England – are all chasing JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Gold Star® Championship points in their respective Fiestas this year. They will be joined by series leaders following the Cambrian Rally, Paul Bird/Jack Morton in the former’s Focus WRC, plus a gaggle of Fiestas in the hands of defending Gold Star Champions Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson, Julian Reynolds/Patrick Walsh, Hugh Hunter/Rob Fagg and Matt Edwards/Darren Garrod who set multiple fastest stage times on the Cambrian but whose chances of a top result were ruined by damaged suspension during the morning.  Following a retirement in North Wales, Luke Francis/John H Roberts will also be looking to put their Gold Star season back on track in Mid Wales. The photo is of Luke and John (Fiesta WRC) – trying very hard before their retirement on the Cambrian.  (Images courtesy of Kevin Money)

In Class B13, the rivalry between Dylan Davies/Llion Williams (Impreza) and Ian Joel/Graeme Wood (Escort Cosworth), which went marginally in favour of the former crew on the Cambrian, is set to continue but, amongst others joining the fray this time, Richard Hill/Steffan Evans, in another Impreza, will doubtless be aiming to upset the apple cart!

Maintaining the theme of close competition, especially over the past couple of seasons, the BTRDA Production Cup has become used to seeing a handful of seconds separating winners and ‘others’. Defending Cup Champions Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence lost out to Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy in the battle of the Lancer EVOs last time and will be hoping for a spot of role reversal on the Rallynuts Stages. Meanwhile, for their part, Tom Naughton/Will Rogers will be looking for a finish after mechanical bothers saw to it that their Lancer didn’t reach the final control on the Cambrian.

With the possible exception of Fiesta ST Trophy leaders Zak Hughes/Tom Wood, all the other contenders will be out to change the look of the points table on the Rallynuts Stages. James Giddings/Sion Cunniff and Kalvin Green/Osian Owen are currently in the remaining podium positions and would dearly love to ‘up’ their game – in more ways than one!

Zak Hughes/Tom Wood – Fiesta ST Trophy Leaders >

After its amazing run on the Cambrian Rally to 17th overall, the 1400cc Talbot Sunbeam of Chris Powell/Jim Lewis will be the best-placed JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Silver Star® Championship starter next weekend. However, it goes without saying (but we will anyway!) that there’ll be some more powerful cars with the express intention of raining on their parade. The Escorts of Rob Dennis/Andy Boswell, Nick Dobson/Steve Pugh, Allan McDowall/Gavin Heseltine and the Citroen DS3 R3T of Richard Sykes/Simon Taylor plus the Talbot Sunbeam VXR of Andy Davison/Tom Murphy could, potentially, lead the charge but there’ll be others – lots of others!…

The addition of a BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup to the BTRDA’s Rally Series arsenal this year has certainly struck a chord. Nine drivers scored points first time out and now, on Round 2, the entry list has increased still further. George Lepley/Tom Woodburn (Fiesta) are the first-ever leaders of this particular category but, at this early stage of the season, the slightest of problems could spell disaster. Not wishing ill on their rivals (much!), Bob Vardy/Keaton Williams are best-placed to benefit from any misfortune that might hinder the leaders’ progress, with Jack Leese/Sam Spencer (Peugeot 208) hoping that lightning could possibly strike twice and upset both crews’ rhythm on the day! The entry list also benefits from a couple of R2 cars crewed by BRC regulars.

And so to the BTRDA 1400 Championship – another area in which the BTRDA took a pioneering stance, in this case some 16 years ago. In spite of the decline in numbers, due in no small part to the insistence that the lesser powered vehicles are no longer able to run at the front of the field, those who campaign such cars exhibit a similar level of commitment to those fighting for outright victory! Previously mentioned in despatches, Chris Powell/Jim Lewis will have been dining out for the past couple of months on their Cambrian result, but now it’s time to do it all over again!


<   Chris Powell/Jim Lewis (1400cc Talbot Sunbeam)

Among those hoping they don’t/can’t, we find Tommi Meadows (KA) and Perry Gardener (Nova) and good to see the return of Kieran Darrington (Corsa).    There’s an entry from the Brick family in a Corsa but, currently, that’s the only information to which we’re privileged! Nevertheless, historically, such is the reputation of the Ludlow farming dynasty that, come the day, whoever is ensconced in the driving seat will require careful monitoring by those hoping to come out on top. 

Although the BTRDA Rally First Championship caters for cars up to 2-litres, albeit with minimal technical modifications, competitors find themselves under the same constraints in regard to running order as do the 1400s. Notwithstanding, a trio of 2-litre cars have been entered by the ‘rallyme’ organisation for Wesley Gilford/Ryan Griffiths (Fiesta ST) and Matt Baddeley & Guy Butler (both Toyota Corollas). Having missed the opening round, 2017 Champions Bart Lang/Sinclair Young return in their all-conquering Nissan Micra.

The first car leaves the start of the Rallynuts Stages at the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells at 8.30am on Saturday 14th April. 45 miles of competition in the forests of Crychan, Cefn, Gwibedog and Radnor are on the agenda prior to the finish, back at the Royal Welsh Showground, from 15.50 that afternoon.

No Time To Lose…!

Preview of Round 2: Malcolm Wilson Rally – 3rd March.
With the Cambrian Rally moving back a week this year and the second round of the JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series, the Malcolm Wilson Rally, running a week earlier, there’s barely time to draw breath before contenders for each of the various Championships head off to event sponsor M-Sport’s premises in Dovenby for the pre-event formalities.

Although his car is prepared in the Scottish borders, one person who won’t have far to travel to the start on this occasion is the current Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Gold Star® Championship leader Paul Bird who hails from Penrith. He will be chasing a record-breaking 5th win on his ‘home’ event – his fourth came in 2014 which put him on a par with Bill Dobie, the Cumbrian who took his four victories in five years between 1978 & 1982. Bird and co-driver Jack Morton will be out to consolidate the advantage their Focus WRC gained on the opening round of the series but will be under no illusions as to the scale of the challenge ahead of them.

Defending Gold Star Champions Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson (Fiesta WRC) are right behind Bird/Morton after the season’s opening encounter and, having retired from last year’s Malcolm Wilson, need to keep up the pressure if their aim of back-to-back titles is to become a reality. Meanwhile, Matt Edwards/Darren Garrod (Fiesta) set FTD on five of the Cambrian’s seven stages but damaged suspension ruined any chance of translating that speed into a good result. So, in Gold Star terms, a sizeable haul of points in Cumbria is a pre-requisite….
Breathing down their necks will be another trio of Fiestas in the hands of Julian Reynolds/Patrick Walsh, Hugh Hunter/Rob Fagg & Charlie Payne/Ian Windress, with a further couple crewed by Luke Francis/John H Roberts and Sacha Kakad/James Aldridge aiming to put their BTRDA seasons back on track following retirements on the Cambrian.

In the B13 class battle, Dylan Davies/Llion Williams (Impreza) narrowly beat Ian Joel/Graeme Wood (Escort Cosworth) on the Cambrian but, when it comes to the Malcolm Wilson Rally, the latter crew currently holds the bragging rights – they finished 13th in 2017 whilst Davies/Williams retired!…

Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy lead the BTRDA Production Cup runners but, if that situation is to continue, they will need to see off challenges from the likes of fellow Lancer EVO crews Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence, Tom Naughton/Will Rogers and Dan Moss/Sam Allen, as well as from the Imprezas of Andy Davies/Max Freeman and Jon Ross/Martin Auskerin.   Fiesta ST Trophy contenders Zak Hughes/Tom Wood are ‘Kings of the Castle’ after the Cambrian, a situation which both James Giddings/Sion Cunniff and Calvin Green/Osian Owen will be out to change on Round 2, while Martin Laverty/Phil Kenny would just be happy with a finish following retirement last time out.

Neither John or Ieuan Rowlands, who finished 1st & 3rd respectively in the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Silver Star® Championship on the Cambrian, will be present on the Malcolm Wilson, giving Chris Powell/Jim Lewis the opportunity to put their 1400cc Sunbeam, which took 2nd place points in North Wales, into the mix once again. However, looming large – and that’s not just in engine capacity! – are the Escorts of Rob Dennis/Andy Boswell, Alan McDowell/Gavin Heseltine and Nick Dobson/Steve Pugh, plus the Citroen DS3 of Richard Sykes/Simon Taylor and Talbot Sunbeam VXR of Andy Davison/Tom Wood. Also appearing on the entry list is the name of Matthew Robinson whose exuberant – not to mention very quick! – driving style helped him on his way to secure the domination of the BTRDA Silver Star Championship for a period of three years from 2012 to 2014. Co-driven by Dave Robson, he has entered the Malcolm Wilson Rally in an Escort RS which also conforms to the BTRDA Historic Cup® regulations….

In the pursuance of its policy of welcoming all-comers to the Rally Series, the BTRDA has introduced a Rallye R2 Cup this year and, first time out, nine drivers scored points. Thus far, Fiestas (R2s, of course!) seem to be the most popular mode of transport, a theory to which both George Lepley/Tom Woodburn and Bob Vardy/Keaton Williams would subscribe, while Jack Leese/Sam Spencer have opted for a Peugeot 208. As ever, at this early point of the season, the jury is out as to the wisdom of their individual choices!

As mentioned above, Chris Powell/Jim Lewis made the BTRDA 1400 Championship all their own on the Cambrian but, in football parlance, you’re only as good as your last result and, thus, there’ll be no room for complacency – or problems! – this time. Attempting to keep them honest will be Tommi Meadows/Ian Oakey (Ford Ka), Pete Gorst/Phil King (Vauxhall Nova) and a brace of Corsas driven by Scott & David Sloan and Stuart Spyer/Pete Williams.
Each of the BTRDA Rally First Championship crews who scored points on the opening round opted for different makes of car. Sam & Liam Johnson’s Seat Arosa came out on top, while Matthew Baddeley/Shaun Hughes, who finished 2nd in the points in a 2.0 VW Lupo, have entered the Malcolm Wilson in a 1.0 litre Toyota Corolla. The comparison between the two, not least in power output, will be interesting!

This year’s MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship sets sail in the Lake District and, having been reformatted last year, now encompasses all vehicles conforming to the MSA’s current technical regulations. Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson came out on top in their Fiesta WRC but, as a class-based series, the eventual winners could potentially come from any one of the eight classes. Indeed, the Top Six from 2017 featured two World Rally Cars, Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence’s Group N Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9, a couple of two-wheel drive cars and a ‘Rally First’ spec. Nissan Micra!…

The first car leaves the start of the Malcolm Wilson Rally from M-Sport at 7.00am on Saturday 3rd March for the first of nine special stages in the Lake District, before the finish at the Hired Lad, just off the M6 on the outskirts of Penrith, at 14.50.

Main photo is George Lepley/Tom Woodburn (Fiesta R2) – BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup Leaders on the Cambrian.   (Photo by Malcolm Almond)

The Choice of Champions!….

Preview of Round 1: Cambrian Rally.

The ‘Choice of Champions’ was once the famous by-line of a former Wolverhampton-based tyre manufacturer and, as all the contenders for the JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series convene in Llandudno for the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally, we wonder just who is going to have a ‘good year’ in 2018!…      Twelve months on from the disappointment shared by all following the abandonment of the 2017 event due to adverse weather conditions, the 2018 Cambrian’s entry list is littered with former BTRDA Champions and previous event winners, for the start of what will be the 65th running of the BTRDA Gold Star® Rally Championship.  Winners of the 64th, Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson (Fiesta WRC), have already made it perfectly clear that they intend to take on all-comers as they strive for back-to-back championships but, as is ever the case, there are any number of others with a different take on how the new season will pan out!

At 8.00am on Saturday 17th February Petch/Wilkinson will lead the 120 crews away from Llandudno, ahead of 2012 & 2016 Cambrian Rally winners Luke Francis/John H Roberts who have forsaken their hitherto successful Mitsubishi Lancer and joined the ranks of Fiesta owners for their latest assault on the coveted title! Both they and fellow North Walian Hugh Hunter (Fiesta WRC), who won the Cambrian Rally in 2008 on his way to Gold Star glory that same year, will be hoping for better starts to their respective BTRDA campaigns. Having entered last year’s Cambrian, neither was able to actually contest it following a road traffic accident and engine trouble respectively the previous day rendered their cars hors de combat. Quietly, they must have breathed sighs of relief when the event was curtailed!….

Breaking the Fiesta monopoly, 2003 Cambrian winner Paul Bird, who has former MSA Asphalt Rally Champion Co-driver Jack Morton to guide him round the stages, keeps faith with his trusty and very effective Focus WRC. Meanwhile Matt Edwards (Fiesta), son of Cambrian Clerk of the Course Alyn, who had such a superb British Rally Championship campaign last year, is planning a busy season which encompasses both BRC & BTRDA events. Matt is no stranger to the BTRDA Series, having won the 1400 Championship back in 2010.

Missing the first half of last year awaiting the arrival of a new car, 2016 Gold Star Champion Charlie Payne (Fiesta) is now back up to speed – literally! He won the final round of the 2017 Rally Series, the Trackrod Forest Rally, by just 0.2s from Petch and is well acquainted with just what is required to put his name on the trophy for a second time. Payne, who has Ian Windress with him on this occasion, starts in front of Hunter and Manxman Rob Fagg, while next away will be Julian Reynolds/Patrick Walsh in their Fiesta R5. Although absent from the BTRDA Series for a while, Reynolds is also a proven winner at this level….

Ian Joel/Graeme Wood are wheeling out their recently rebuilt Escort Cosworth while, maintaining the top-quality pedigree of the entry, further down the order we find 1999 Champion Brian Bell, who has Paul Spooner – most recently Champion Co-driver in 2010 – for company, in his Focus WRC. Also noted is the welcome appearance of Brian’s former co-driver (and 2003 World Rally Champion) Phil Mills, accompanying Simon de Banke who won the recent snowy event at Croft.

And so to the BTRDA Production Cup…. Having taken a sabbatical in 2016, Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence returned last year and, immediately dispelling any doubts as to their match fitness, went on to take their Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9 to victory in what was a very competitive category – and all the signs are that life is going to be just as hectic  in 2018!  Former Cup winners Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy, who came so close to pipping Naylor/Lawrence to the post last year, start right behind the defending champions in another Lancer, while Andy Davies/Max Freeman will once again be pinning their hopes on a Subaru Impreza. 2014 Group N Champion Tom Naughton (Lancer EVO9) returns after a couple of years away from the sport and Jonathan Ross (no – not that one) also has his feet in the Subaru camp. However regular Production Cup contenders Sacha Kakad / James Aldridge have foresaken their Group N Evo10 to try the delights of a (slightly more nimble) Fiesta R5.

Also complying with the Group N Production Cup regulations are those contesting the Fiesta ST Trophy. In the absence of Sam Bilham who comprehensively claimed the 2017 title, Richard Wells/Calvin Houldsworth are the top seeded crew, followed by the similar car of Zak Hughes/Tom Wood.  Then, starting line astern are Mathew & Tim Tordoff, Kalvin Green/Osian Owen, James Giddings/Sion Cunliff and Martin Laverty/Phil Kenny, all of whom will have designs on succeeding Bilham!…

The JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Silver Star® Championship caters purely for two-wheel drive cars and it’s in this particular category that series sponsor Barry Jordan has come good in recent times. Overall leader for a while last season in his Avenger BRM, he’s back to try and improve on his 3rd overall. However, great minds and all that!… The major threat on the Cambrian is likely to come from the Rowlands brothers, Ieuan and John. Ieuan has forsaken his usual Escort for the aforementioned Barry Jordan’s Avenger BRM (Barry has entered a similar 2-litre car), while John will be out in his usual Escort. BRC competitors William Creighton/Liam Regan from Ulster are next in their Peugeot 208 which is also eligible for the inaugural BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup. The Citroen DS3 of Richard Sykes/Simon Taylor and last year’s Silver Star runners-up Rob Dennis/Andy Boswell (Escort Mk2) then start just behind the Ulstermen.

This event also sees the start of the new BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup and there are at least 8 crews who have confirmed that they will be contesting this in 2018.  The BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup is open to all FIA homologated R2(B) cars and is a recognition of the increasing number of R2 cars that are now competing in UK stage rallying.

The BTRDA has been a pioneer of the 1400cc and Rally First Championships for more than a decade and, while recent circumstances have dictated that participating numbers are not what they once were, both series still harbour an extremely competitive nature. The Talbot Sunbeam of Chris Powell/Jim Lewis is already familiar with the BTRDA 1400 Championship winners’ enclosure, while Bala’s Hefin Lloyd-Davies (Vauxhall Corsa) will be hoping to hold sway on the day! Teenager Tommi Meadows (Ford Ka) and co-driver Ian Oakey (1997 Gold Star Champion)  had an up-and-down season – in more ways than one! – in 2017 but, in what was the driver’s first season of competition at this level, he acquitted himself admirably and will now be able to put his new-found familiarity with the events to good use.

The BTRDA Rally First Championship, which was won by Bart Lang’s Nissan Micra last year, allows only limited modifications to competing cars. Hoping to emulate his success in 2018, Richard Ingleby/Alex Booth’s vehicle of choice is an MG ZR, while Sam & Liam Johnson are in a Seat Arosa and Owen McConochie/Rhodri Williams will be more than happy if the Micra’s dominance is perpetuated!

Seven special stages, totaling around 45 miles, in some of the classic forests of North Wales await competitors on the Cambrian Rally and, following their completion, the first car is due back at the finish in Llandudno at 3.30pm on Saturday afternoon.