Motorsport News



James Williams scored his second

Asphalt Rally Championsh­ip victory of the season on debut with a Hyundai i20 N Rally2, edging Ruairi Bell’s Skoda Fabia R5 by 1m53.1s.

But of the full-time contenders it was Steve Wood who prospered in his Ford Fiesta WRC after a close-fought battle with the younger Rally2 Fiesta of David Henderson. Henderson held Wood to a 1.3s deficit after the two Aberystwyt­h street stages but Wood leapt ahead once out into the moorlands. However an overshoot at a hairpin left gave Henderson the overnight advantage, but only by a single tenth of a second.

The battle then swung back into Wood’s favour as the two battlers went opposite ways with their tyre choice for the drying opening loop on Sunday. Wood fitted slicks to his World Rally Car whereas Henderson went for wets, and Wood made it count on the mammoth Llanfihang­el test, pulling over half a minute clear of his rival.

But Henderson pulled it back over the next three, chipping away at the gap to half the deficit to 16.5s by service: “I think it was the right tyre for the first stage but I was just too cautious,” Henderson said. “I had an overshoot as well so probably lost half of my time in that. I’ve done alright on wets for the past few runs even though they’ve been bone dry! We’ll just try and close him down [Wood], he was on slicks which was definitely the right tyre for the last three and I still took time out of him.”

Wood, who joked he was “snoozing” halfway through the morning, countered: “I’m a bit disappoint­ed in myself really, just can’t get in the groove but I need to this afternoon because David’s catching me. I need to wake up a bit now.”

And Wood seemingly did, picking up the pace to edge Henderson by 2.5s on the repeat run over the 16.78-mile Llanfihang­el. But then the pressure was relinquish­ed as Henderson retired after SS9 of 12. Wood’s result that was enough to move him ahead of the absent John Stone to the head of the championsh­ip table.

Mark Kelly was promoted to fourth at the expense of Henderson – a useful finish after two retirement­s on his last two starts. Kelly was unsatisfie­d with his pace but was aware it was a necessary evil as he continued to learn his recently acquired Skoda Fabia R5.

Neil Roskell’s title hopes took a dent when his Ford Fiesta R5 snapped a driveshaft on Sunday morning. He had been running just behind the

Wood and Henderson battle after Saturday evening’s stages.

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