andy btrda

It has been a very successful year for Lampeter and district club member Andy Davies, who with his navigator Max Freeman who together took on the BTRDA rally championship in their group N Subaru impreza for their first full season in gravel rallying, and together with the help of their sponsors, managed to finish an excellent fourth overall in the championship, winning class N4 in the process.

Starting the season as relative newcomers, the first event of the year was the Cambrian rally, an eight-stage event organised by the north Wales car club, that used the forests of north Wales and the great Orme as part of its route. Seeded at number 27 it wasn’t to be long before Andy made his presence felt, with 7th quickest time on the rallies opening stage, a great indicator of the talent within the car. It wasn’t to be a perfect beginning to the season though as the gearbox broke on the car after the second stage, forcing them into retirement, which although wasn’t the crews preferred start to the season, the times they did on the opening stages showed the potential of the crew.

The second round of the championship was the Malcolm Wilson Rally, another eight-stage event that took place in the forests of the lake district. Seeded a little nearer the front this time at 21 on what was the first event of the year outside of Wales for Andy. The fact he had travelled far and was competing in unfamiliar territory seemed to have little effect as he began the day with thirteenth overall. By the halfway stage of the rally Andy had managed to gain another position and was lying in twelfth overall, and third in class. With the second lot of stages the crew were determined to carry on pushing and hopefully gain another place or two for valuable points in their championship bid. As the day went on Andy got more comfortable with the car and with every mile that passed Andy became more confident at the wheel, which showed, as at the end of the day they managed to sneak into the top ten, with tenth overall, getting a handful of points for the championship in the process.

Somerset stages was to be the third round of the championship. With Andy’s experience increasing as the year went on so did his seeding, as he would be included into the top twenty for the first time, placed at 18. This event would have a higher number of stages than previous, with thirteen stages to tackle, being consistent throughout the day would be the best plan for competitors. Andy opened the day with joint ninth fastest stage time, an excellent start on this long event. At the half way stage (Porlock 2), Andy was holding eleventh overall, and third in N4 class, a great position to be in. Andy went on to improve on this, with excellent times on the second half of the day’s stages, which saw him once again sneak into the top ten, with an excellent tenth overall after a long day of rallying, saw the crew go home with more valuable points for the championship.

It was back to the forests of Wales for the fourth round of the championship, as Knutsford and district motor club held their Plains rally in the forests of mid and north Wales. Andy was to set off at twenty-six on this event amongst the one hundred and forty that had entered. With this round being a little closer to home than the previous rounds, and hoping that the fact it was a little closer to home would help him get a great score in. Andy began the day as he meant to go on, with an excellent seventh quickest overall time on the day’s opening stage, Gartheiniog, which also saw him leading the class. It was much of the same for the mornings opening stages, with Andy putting in excellent times that saw him comfortably in the top ten, lying in eighth overall amongst the hundred and twenty-five that were still running. So, it was onto the afternoons stages to see if any more could be gained. With the afternoons stages complete and more excellent times recorded, Andy and Max found themselves getting the best result of the season so far, with an excellent seventh overall and first in class N4 (group N 4wd turbocharged vehicles). This giving Andy a great number of points for the championship.

It was up to Cumbria for the fifth round of the championship, as Andy and Max went to Carlisle to compete on the DMACK Carlisle stages rally stages rally. Seeded at seventeen for this round, Andy was hoping to once again set excellent times and get a good result for his championship, which after a DNF after the first round, had been going well with some great results and excellent times on the rounds so far. It was a cautious start to the day for Andy, who opened the day with joint twenty-first overall. Having had a retirement on the weeks (non BTRDA round) Severn Valley stages, Andy was hoping for better luck and wanted to get a result over anything else. After the first loop of stages, where conditions were very slippery and crews had reported a lot of fog in the forests, Andy found himself in fifteenth overall and leading his class by five seconds. Kershope was the next stage, a fifteen-mile test that sorted the men from the boys, and Andy clearly came in the earlier category, with an excellent third fastest time! This helped lift Andy ninth overall at the end of the day’s stages, once again giving him some much-needed points for the championship.

The Nicky Grist stages was the sixth round of the championship, a round closer to home, with the rally beginning in the Builth Wells showground. Andy and Max were given number given number twenty-seven for this round. The years’ experience was really showing now, as Andy once again found himself well inside the top ten after the opening stage in Crychan forest, with an excellent seventh overall, and again leading his class. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be on this rally, as whilst holding an excellent fifth overall after the fifth stage, one of the cars ball joints broke on the next stage, giving Andy his second DNF of the season (in BTRDA), a great shame as this would have been his best result of the year. With 2 non-finishes now the championship became very tight and every result would count from now on in.

The sixth round of the championship was to be the famous Woodpecker stages, a rally organised by the sixty and Worcestershire motor club once again in the Wyre forest. Andy and Max found themselves seeded at fifteen on this round, their previous results in the year surely counting for this high seeding that they had. On the first of six stages, Bringewood, Andy opened the day with found himself in fourteenth overall, a good stat to the day. More good times followed on the next two stages, and at the halfway halt found himself lying in thirteenth overall, and third in class. After the final stage of the day had been completed, Andy once again climbed up the overall results, and finished the day in twelfth overall, and third in class, which definitely helped his championship bid

The final round of the championship, round seven, saw Andy travel up to Yorkshire, for the Trackrod forest stages. It was a winner takes all on this final round, with Andy being in contention to win group N in the championship, maximum attack would be the approach to the day’s stages. Andy received his best seeding of the year on this round, at eight, and would be the first group N car in the forests. The first stage of the day was cancelled, so stage two, Staindale, would be the first one, and Andy began the day as he would mean to go on, with an excellent joint seventh overall. It was to be an early end to Andy’s season unfortunately, as whilst pushing very hard on the third stage Andy put the car off the road, forcing them into retirement.

Whilst this would not of been how Andy would of wanted to end the year, all was not lost, as Andy and Max, together with their team from Llanarth auto services, had put in such great results through the year on the other rounds, Andy managed to finish an excellent fourth overall in the BTRDA rally championship, a result which even on its own is an excellent achievement, but not only that, they managed to win group N in the process, a great result considering it was their first full year in the forests and the first time they contested in the BTRDA rally series, doing an excellent job of representing Lampeter and district motor club in the process, showing, even though Lampeter and district isn’t the largest motor club, it certainly isn’t lacking in talent!

                Andy would like to give thanks to all of his sponsors and crew who have helped him through the year and plans are already well under way to get the car ready for another year out in the stages, Andy must be a one to watch next year, and could well be bringing home even more silverware next season.