Welshman wins Wales Rally GB

Thursday 2nd November 2017 4:11 am
Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt Ford Fiesta WRC, winners Dayinsure Wales Rally GB 2017 ()

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ELFYN Evans became the toast of the home nation last weekend when he re-wrote the history books by becoming the first Welshman to win a round of the World Rally Championship.

Evans from Dolgellau and co-driver Daniel Barritt driving their D Mack supported M Sport Ford Fiesta World Rally Car dominated the event taking the lead on the second timed test in Myherin and extending that advantage to 37 seconds as he crossed the final stage finish line near Llyn Brenig in North Wales on Sunday afternoon.

It was a peerless performance where the 28-year-old Welshman who controlled the event from the front despite constant pressure from his Ford teammates Ott Tanak and multiple World Champion Sebastien Ogier who himself secured his fifth world title on the weekend.

Mid Wales played host to a number of timed tests on Friday with the action centred on Llangurig and the stages of Myherin, Sweet Lamb spectator stage and Hafren which was again managed by stage commander Mike Kennett from Llanwrtyd.

A repeat of the morning tests featured in the afternoon and once more Evans was leading the pace. A new tyre specially developed by D Mack for wet muddy conditions was proving priceless and again he extended his advantage to almost 25 seconds over his Estonian team mate Tanak as crews headed back to Deeside for the end of day service and overnight rest halt.

More of the same was in store for Saturday’s 18-hour marathon day featuring nine timed stages totalling 142 stage miles, including the classic tests in Dyfi forest complex.

This very much played in Evans’ favour as this is very much the Welshman’s back yard. He grew up some five miles from the Gartheiniog stage and it showed as the local driver drove the fastest on three of the four stages.

Saturday was the first day of the National Rally where local crew Craig Jones and Jonathan Hawkins were hoping to secure a top 20 finish with their CMG Motors supported Mitsubushi Lancer.

After adjusting to the use of pace notes on loose forest surface, Craig pressed through the stages setting times faster than many of his more illustrious competitors on what is essentially a standard car, the Brecon pairing having just a small problem with the brakes but finished the day in 13th position, from a starting field of 76 crews.

In the main event Evans and Barritt extended their advantage to 53 seconds at the end of day two.

The final day was the shortest amounting to just over 40 competitive miles in Clocaenog forest, North Wales. Evans controlled his lead taking no risks; finally taking the winning spoils and in the process creating history.

In the National Rally, Brecon pair Jones and Hawkins set about improving their position and pushed hard through the final three stages, gaining one place on their overnight position – finishing in very credible 12th position. After passing over the finish ramp at Llandudno both crew members declared that the rally was a fantastic experience “being in the same event as the top drivers in the world such as Ogier and Evans and the support from the tens of thousands of spectators was unbelievable,” commented Craig.

Co-driver Jonathan Hawkins can also look forward to progressing his co driving skills by being selected as member of the prestigious MSA co-driving academy for promising young rally co-drivers.

The event also acknowledged previous rally legends with Nicky Grist from Abergavenny being honoured on the rally.