Dixies His­toric Chal­lenge

Motor Sport News - - Rally Report - By Ian Har­den Photos: Lyn­don March, EDP Photo News UK

Or­gan­iser: South Wales Au­to­mo­bile Club When: May 1 Where: Epynt mil­i­tary ranges, Wales. Cham­pi­onships: Brian Dennis Welsh His­toric, HRCR ‘Old Stager’, HRCR Stage Masters, WAMC Hir­e­fit King of Epynt, WAMC Restruct Mixed Sur­face. Starters: 76 Stages: 12

Two crews emerged from the mist that hung over the Epynt mil­i­tary ranges hav­ing taken vic­tory in their re­spec­tive events. Neil Wil­liams/ Peter James brought their Ford Es­cort Mk2 home 35s ahead of the field in the His­toric rally, while Adrian Spencer/mark He­witt dom­i­nated the mod­ern event in their Subaru Im­preza WRC S11. They won by 1m13s and topped the over­all time charts.

Now in its sec­ond year, South Wales AC’S com­pact one-day for­mat proved pop­u­lar. It of­fered two more stages than in 2015 and en­tries in­creased by more than one third. Recce and scru­ti­neer­ing both took place be­fore 0900hrs, leav­ing com­pe­ti­tion to be­gin at mid-morn­ing.

In­ter­mit­tent show­ers made the change­able Epynt road sur­face slip­pery and the con­di­tions played straight into Spencer’s hands. Us­ing his World Rally car’s su­perb trac­tion and han­dling, he led the mod­ern con­tin­gent from the open­ing stage, set­ting fastest time on ev­ery test. Be­hind, num­ber one seeds Philip Turner/si­mon Anthony (Mit­subishi Lancer E9) bat­tled for sec­ond place with Ge­off Kit­ney/ken Gib­bard’s older Lancer E6, while Mike Wil­liams/ken Bills (MG ZR) and Ian Caddy/alan Thomas (Es­cort) vied for fourth over­all and top two-wheel-drive hon­ours.

The num­bers in the his­toric rally were swollen by the in­clu­sion of con­tes­tants in three cham­pi­onships, but sev­eral po­ten­tial fron­trun­ners in­clud­ing Mark Sol­loway/mark Crisp and Eian Pritchard/steve Mcphee non-started. This gave Wil­liams the chance to seize the early lead ahead of Kevin and Lee Jones (Fer­rari 308 GP4 Mich­e­lotto). Close be­hind, Chisto­pher Lloyd/paul Wil­liams dis­puted third place with last year’s his­toric win­ners, Terry Brown/ Den Gold­ing; the two Ford Es­cort crews only 10s apart af­ter the open­ing loop. In turn, they were pur­sued by the Es­cort Mk1s of Stan­ley Orr/guy Weaver and Wayne Bonser/richard As­ton who were also scrap­ping for Class C3 hon­ours.

Skies re­mained gen­er­ally over­cast but they failed to de­ter Spencer, who blazed a trail of con­sis­tent fastest times to stretch his lead to more than one minute over Turner and Kit­ney. The slip­pery sur­face claimed a num­ber of po­ten­tial fron­trun­ners dur­ing the day – most no­tably, Lay­ton Wa­ters/tu­dor Jenk­ins, who rolled their two-litre class Toy­ota Star­let on stage four. At least they man­aged some mileage be­fore re­tir­ing: Andy Fraser/michael Calvers were un­lucky to have their Dar­rian T90 break a CV joint on the start­line of stage one.

De­spite be­ing pres­sured in the mid­dle part of the day, Wil­liams con­tin­ued to hold all his chal­lengers at bay in the his­toric event. Re­main­ing me­chan­i­cally un­trou­bled, he built his lead steadily through­out the clos­ing miles to claim vic­tory ahead of Lloyd, who in­her­ited sec­ond spot when Brown re­tired with gear­box woes and Jones re­ceived a 20s penalty for late ar­rival at a con­trol. Jones’s er­ror al­most cost him third:

Class win­ner Orr’s fast-but-safe ap­proach brought him to within three sec­onds of the Fer­rari crew at the fin­ish, with Bonser fifth, 26s in ar­rears.

Ever-con­sis­tent, Roger Matthews/ Tom Mar­rott rounded out the top six in their Es­cort RS1600.

Spencer tamed Epynt Wil­liams’ Mk2 headed his­toric run­ners

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