The R J Matthews Haulage Dixies Challenge Rally took place over the bank holiday weekend on the demanding roads of the Epynt ranges.

Forresters Car Club and Forest of Dean Motor Club organised an exemplary event for a full field of 80 cars.

Scrutineering and documentation took place on Saturday at a new venue, the Fedw Farm near Llywel, which went very well and was well received. The rally took place on Sunday and 10 short sharp special stages awaited competitors with weather conditions damp and dreary.

Seeded at number one was Abergavenny resident Damian Cole who was co-driven by daughter Charly in Skoda Fabia R5. Unfortunately the pair had a huge accident on stage 3 which put them in hospital with various injuries - both are now recovering and are very grateful for the professional help they received from fellow competitors, the rally organisers, the event rescue services and the health service.

Fastest crew on the day however were Malcolm and Rhys Jones who piloted their Darrian very quickly to win by 59 seconds from Gareth James and Ian Jones in a Ford Escort Mk2, third overall was a great result for Lee Edwards and Will Atkins in a rear wheel drive Mk3 Ford Escort.

Local crews of interest were Christian Prynne from Llandrindod Wells partnered by Steve McPhee who had an enjoyable day. Christian is still getting fully familiarised with the Suzuki and was slowed by a puncture on stage 2 and a spin on the final stage, but finished 25th overall in their Suzuki Ignis nicknamed ‘the bread van’.

Dixies Challege Rally 2023 - Epynt ranges
Despite some minor delays, it was an enjoyable day for Christian Prynne and Steve McPhee in the Suzuki Ignis (Mark Griffin)

Rhandirmwyn resident Huw Williams took his son Iorwerth out on a rally for the first time and they gelled well to win the class in their Peugeot 205 GTi. Llandovery pairing David and Paul Boxall were also out in a Peugeot 205 GTi and finished third in their class. Another father and son crew, Connor and Gary Powell from Builth Wells had a day out in a fairly basic Citroen Saxo and survived the day to record a finish.

Non-finishers on the day were Llandovery man Eurwyn Davies, who has been competing on the ranges since 1980. Along with co-driver Robert Halloway they failed to get to the finish in their Ford Escort.

Llyswen resident Jon Hawkins accompanied Devonian Kevin Tappin in his Darrian but ill handling didn’t help before the car ground to a halt with mechanical maladies.

Despite the damp and dreary conditions competitors seemed to enjoy the rally immensely, which was the first of three events to use the asphalt roads this year.