The first visit to Mynydd Epynt resulted in an oversubscribed entry for the Pitstop Garage Pengam Dixies Challenge Rally, writes Mark Griffin.

Taking place in glorious weather conditions over the bank holiday weekend on the demanding roads of Mynydd Epynt, Forresters Car Club and Forest of Dean Motor Club organised an excellent event for a full field of 80 cars. 

The event comprised of 10 short sharp special stages awaited competitors ranging from 3.5 – 4.5 miles in length. 

Clear blue skies welcomed crews as they ascended Church Hill onto the Ranges.

Seeded at car 1 was last year’s winner Malcolm and Rhys Jones in the formidable Darrian T90 GTR while Abergavenny resident Damian Cole started car 2 in his Citroen C3 Rally 2 with co-driver Jamie Vaughan.

With warn dry conditions, it was predicted a Darrian fest, with the Welsh sports car marque filling three slots within the top ten - the lightweight powerful nimble car suited the stages and dry conditions. 

Unfortunately a tricky long left hand corner mid way through the opening stage claimed two of the Darrians; car 4 Anthony Morgan and co-driver Jon Hawkins from Llyswen and car 9 Mark Straker and co-driver Claire Williams. Loose gravel on the outside of the corner was said to be the cause of both cars leaving the road at the same spot. Both cars sustained considerable damage, while the crew members although shaken were without injury. Cole’s challenge lasted a few more stages but power steering problems caused his retirement on stage six. 

With such a high rate of attrition, it was Malcolm and Rhys Jones who kept out of trouble and steered their Darrian to a comfortable win by 1min 4 seconds. Robert Tout and Martin Terry were runners-up in their Ford Fiesta R5 while Gareth Thomas drove the wheels off his Mk 2 Escort to secure third.

Pengam Dixies Challenge rally
Overall winners for a second successive year were Malcolm and Rhys Jones in their Darrian (Copyright: Mark Griffin)

Local crews of interest were Ian Taylor and Sam Weller from Brecon who had an excellent day in their Mitsubushi Lancer Evo IX securing 1stin class and 8th overall, while Lucy Gutteridge co-driver to John Bray in the Lotus Elise finished within the top 30.

Pengam Dixies Challenge rally
John Bray and Brecon Motor Club co-driver Lucy Gutteridge bring their Lotus home in 29th position (Copyright: Mark Griffin) (.)

The event was well received from all quarters with hundreds of spectators drawn out by the favourable weather, excellent event format and spirited driving.

Next weekend, Brecon Motor Club swing into action with the Gremlin Classic Rally.