MAGNIFICENT MELVYN FLATTERS ALLCOMERS
Organiser: Brecon Motor Club Date: July 31 Where: Builth Wells, Powys Championships: MSA British Historic Rally Championship; RAC Tarmac Championship; Welsh Historic Championship; Welsh Tarmacadam Championship; King of Epynt; FMP Rally Challenge. Stages: 5 Starters: 99
Melvyn Evans and Patrick Walsh proved to be the masters of the tortuous Epynt ranges, leading from start to finish to take their Ford Escort Mk2 to victory by over a minute on the Harry Flatters Historic Rally, round five of the Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship.
From the opening stage, Evans was in control with a 16-second lead over Jason Pritchard/phil Clarke, with a similar gap to Neil Williams/peter James in third and Rob Smith/alun Cook a further second back. Guy Woodcock/richard Crozier and Will Onions/aled Davies completed the early top six.
Pritchard was one of a number who felt their tyres for the opening stage were too soft, but a change for stage two proved to be in vain when his engine blew. “It was going really well and then just let go without any warning,” he said.
Williams also found a tyre change paid dividends by moving into second, which he was soon able to consolidate when Smith rolled out of the rally on the next stage, his first outing for 10 months. “The tyre change just felt so much better and gave me more confidence,” said Williams.
Evans was left 38 seconds clear but Woodcock overcame an oily gearbox smell, and was up to third after three stages as well as looking for maximum points in the Historic Asphalt Championship, while category two leaders Simon Tysoe/paul Morris had combined “smoothness and bravery” to ease past BHRC leaders and surprise Severn Valley winners Paul Barrett/ Dai Roberts – who were also aided by Onions’ retirement after hitting a sheep on the Burmah Road.
Pirelli Rally winners Joe Price/chris Brooks had been hoping to build on their championship challenge, but a gear selection problem on the opener was followed by a stop to replace a plug lead on stage two. “Stage three was our first clean run,” he said.
Evans almost made winning look easy, completing the final two stages for a trouble-free victory, “we didn’t really have any problems all day,” he admitted. Williams retained a comfortable second with 40 seconds in hand over Woodcock and a class win in Appendix K over visiting Belgian crew and Epynt debutants Christophe Jacob/isabelle Regnier, after Eian Pritchard suffered a similar engine failure to son Jason.
Having gained in confidence on his Epynt debut, a late push from Barrett reclaimed fourth overall on the penultimate stage and that kept him at the head of the championship. “It was a real experience and feels even better now I have done it,” he said. “But it’s definitely not a place for Pinto power.”
The crew suffered more than usual against the more powerful gamut of BDA machines in the BHRC.
Tysoe retained fifth overall on his way to the category two victory, with almost a 30-second cushion over challengers Barry Jones/iwan Griffiths and Daniel Jones/gerwyn Barry.
Roger Moran/ashley Trimble’s eighth place gave them second in the Historic Asphalt runners, despite brake problems costing them time on the opener, while Rudi Lancaster/kenny Owen split Moran from championship rivals Roger Matthews/tom Marrott, who also took a class victory.
Bob/dale Gibbons’ Cortina GT topped the category one cars from Ken Pryce/ Don James’ Mini. But Paul Mankin/ Desmond Bell’s Porsche 911 may have been higher, if the crew hadn’t been overcome with fumes in the car.
Tysoe had hoped for a duel for the overall prize in category two with Stanley Orr/guy Weaver, but the Irishman was a first stage retirement after an electrical failure on his Escort Mk1. Matthews was the only other C5 finisher while Wayne Bonser/rich Aston took a comfortable win in C3 from seasonal debutants Ian Drummond/hu Kent.