Andy bro caron

Andy and Michael celebrate a well deserved victory

The weekend of the 24th and 25th of February was a big one for members of Lampeter and district motor club, as the club held its own rally, the Bro Caron, a rally which made up the second round of the welsh road rally championship as well as the second round of the club’s own road rally championship. Once again it was Marc Hughes who took care of clerk of the course duties and together with his organising team they put on a fun but enjoyable rally of some 95 miles in length all on OS map 146.


                There were a couple of changes to the rally this year, the first of which being location of the rally, as an agreement the club has with other surrounding motor clubs this year’s route would be heading slightly further away from Lampeter, with the majority of the route focused in the South Eastern section of 146. This was to help insure that the lanes nearer Lampeter avoid becoming overly used, as well as providing a new and exciting challenge for those who entered. The second change was that the club had adopted the online entry system that many other road rallies are using, this was used to make entering a faster and smoother process, and seemed to work as over seventy entries were received in the first day of entries being opened!

                With this in mind it was of no surprise that the entry filled very quickly and many unfortunate crews found themselves on the reserves list and crossing their fingers that a space would become available, in fact the rally received around 110 entries this year.

                Number one this year went to last year’s winning driver, Kevin Davies, who this year was partnered by Alan James. Kevin was seen as one of the favourites this year again have won a great number of events over the past year and was hoping to add another to his tally. They would be in Kevin’s regular Mk2 Ford escort. Behind them at 2 was current welsh champion crew of Mark “GT” Roberts and Dylan Jenkins. Mark and Dylan are an incredibly consistent crew and are competitive no matter what part of the country they compete in and would no doubt be in the running this year again, and possibly looking to better their second-place result of last year. Third on the entry list was to go to the first club member, Andy Davies, once again out in his familiar Subaru impreza, commonly known as IDZ, he was to be accompanied by Michael Gilbey, Michael is a navigator very much on form, having been in the navigators seat of the winning car (that being the escort of Kevin Davies) on the Mike Darowen rally a few weeks previously, whilst Andy has proven to be a real threat in any part of the country, and was very much hoping to include his name on the winner’s trophy list. They were a crew that would be more than capable of taking the challenge on. Number 4 went to Daniel “Lwni” Jones and Gerwyn Barry, they were another escort crew out in Dan’s Mk2 version, and another real contender for victory, with Dan having one many rallies over the years, including the Sarn Helen rally, the clubs other rally that ran a few years ago. Number 5 was another yellow Mk2 Ford escort, this one belonging to Steffan “DR” Davies, he was partnered this year by Justin Davies, the navigator whom he won the rally in 2015 with, and they would be hoping to repeat their 2015 victory together. At 6 was Rhodri Evans and Max Freeman in another Mk2 Ford escort, Rhodri hasn’t always had the best luck on road rallies but has managed a victory on the Ystwyth targa rally and has excellent pace, together with Max they were another crew that were more than capable of taking victory and there was no doubt at the pace this crew could be capable of. The rest of the top ten included such names as Mike Roberts and Dafydd Sion Lloyd at 7, Kevin “Penclaw” Jones and Darren Ikin at 8, Telor Pugh and Ian Beamond taking 9, and Chris Hand and Aled Richards rounding off the top 10. All of which were capable of taking the win with many excellent performances and proven results amongst the crews. Cars varied from Mk1 escorts to Toyota corollas and Seat ibizas, showing a wide range of vehicles can be competitive in the lanes.

                Outside of the top ten there were many other quick and consistent crews that were capable of putting in excellent performances and challenging for trophies, including the first overall trophy. For example, at 13 was former motoring news Cilwendeg rally winner (winning in 1984) Steve Davies, he had Matthew Maiidment navigating for him, they were using Steve’s RS2000 Mk2 Ford escort, a relatively rear sight to see an RS2000 in the lanes now given their value.

                First off in expert class at 16 were club members James Davies and George Eadon, in James’ Proton Compact GTI, James and George together won the expert class together on last years event and have achieved great results together, they were looking to repeat their performance this year again although both were well aware that it was going to be a tough challenge with the number of top crews entered. Craig Judd and Jordan Dziadulewicz were behind them, in a Peugeot 306 GTI6, and they would be a crew to watch for in the expert class battle, as were the crew in the car behind, Einion Williams and Rhodri Evans, another crew using a Mk2 Ford escort, having recently finished an excellent second overall on the recent Mike Darowen rally. Gari Evans and Arfon Griffiths were behind them at 19, with Gari doing his first rally in a couple of years, it was great to see him back out competing in his immaculately presented Mk2 Ford escort, they were another crew that could, with the right luck, end up in the top ten. Club member Daniel Williams was at 35 in his BMW 318ti and having his first run in the expert class, he was accompanied by Jamie Wilson for this rally, and both were hoping for a strong result being Daniels home rally. Aled Davies and Guto Davies were behind them at 36 in another car that has become very popular in road rallying over the last couple of year, the Peugeot 206, they were originally reserves but managed to get a run after a withdrawal. They are a very consistent crew with many top 20 results between them.

                Semi experts took places from 44 onwards, and first off were Emyr Evans and Irfon Richards, they were one of the handful of entrants using a Subaru Impreza as their vehicle of choice. Geraint Wright and Rhodri Williams were right behind them at 45, Geriant returning to competing on the rally having been part of the organising team for the last three years, he was using a hired Proton Satria GTI for this rally, and along with navigator Rhodri Williams who has gained great experience over the last year or so they were well within contention of taking class honours. Brian Jones and Kate Jones were behind them at 46, with Brian being a former winner of this rally some years ago, it is always nice to see former winners returning to the lanes. They were also to be in contention of a great result. Lee “eggs” Plant and Michael Phillips were at 48, Lee this time using his own Mitsubishi colt, and were twice winners of the best club pair award, they were hoping to make it a hat trick on this event. 50 went to Andrew Ling and club chairman Jason Thomas, they were another pair using the Peugeot 206.

                First off in novice class at 68 was Richard Jones and Owen Rowcliffe, they were both capable of a great result, especially with Owens success on the maps over the last year. Dafydd Jones and Richard Williams were next at 69, they were another pair of reserves that managed to get a run, and would be out to challenge for class honours in their Vauxhall corsa. There were plenty of other potential class winners on the entry list, including many club members, like Osian Jones and Llyr Davies at 74 in a Peugeot 106 GTI, Osian had set excellent times on the Rali cwm Gwendraeth a few weeks ago, he was hoping to put this experience to good use in the lanes. Owain Evans and Dion Phillips were next out once again in the Vauxhall nova were behind them at 75, and were hoping for a better run than what they had on the Mike Darowen a couple of weeks previously. Another pair of club members took 77, which was Rob Fox and David Bowler, it was to be David’s first event having joined the club at the beginning of the year after spectating the event last year. The remaining members of the class included Calfyn John Jones and Sophie Megan Hughes who were one of the pair to be using the Nissan micra, with the other being Daniel and Talis Owens, who were seeded just behind them, together they were numbers 81 and 82. Novice class was rounded off with the Ford fiesta of Joe Richards and David Lee who had ventured up from down south to sample the lanes of west Wales after having heard good things of the rally. They took number 85.

                All in there were 87 crews that signed on at the Lampeter leisure centre, which for the second year in a row was rally HQ. Singing on opened at 5p.m once again and it wasn’t long before the Rookery car park began to fill with eager competitors and a vast number of spectators that came over for a look at the cars lines up before the off. Once again, a burger van was placed at the end of the car park and had a steady queue of hungry fans and enthusiasts lined up for food all night, well you can’t go rallying on an empty stomach!

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All lined up ready to go

                With scrutineering taking place at Huw Lewis Tyres nearby and noise check being done over at Gwili Jones Tractor sales the whole town was a flurry of excitement, and as the hours went by the temperature dropped to near freezing level, many began to question if freezing fog or black ice could be a problem, especially on higher ground or later on in the event. With singing duties taken care of at half past nine event secretary Dorian Evans gave a speech welcoming everyone to the event and briefed everyone on the up and coming nights sport. After this route card were handed out to crews and one by one map lights could be seen being turned on in the start car park as the crew plotted the 95-mile route onto their maps, an hour being given to get the 25-time controls, 50 passage controls and 20 odd route checks, as well as the various cautions, give way junctions and quiet zones that featured on the route.

kev bro caron

Kevin Davies and Alan James Alan James on the way to winning the Master's class

                Most of this year’s route would concentrate on the lanes south of Lampeter, but would feature some familiar areas such as Esgair-Dawe, Waunclunda, FFarmers and Oxon hall, and the petrol halt would be down in Llandovery. With the route plotted one by one competitors headed out to the lanes for the nights sport. The first section of the night began just outside of Pencarreg where crews headed down towards Esgair-Dawe, before turning left and heading for Parc-y-rhos for approximately half a mile, before turning a harpin right into the first white road of the night. This proved to be an incredibly popular spectating venue where there must have been close to a hundred-people gathered to catch an early glimpse of the action. After this white road crew turned right at the exit and time control 2 was located here. Three crews managed to complete this first section penalty free, and they were Daniel and Gerwyn, Steffan “DR” and Justin, and Rhodri and Max, despite the passenger door opening on Rhodri’s escort as he navigated round the harpin. Kevin Davies and Alan James were next best here are they picked up 2 seconds of penalties, then it was Andy and Michael who picked up 7 seconds, with Andy admitting he slowed down to early to pick up the code board that was located on the track. Also doing well here were Chris Hand and Aled Richards who had a penalty count of 10 seconds in Chris’ Honda powered escort. In the expert class it was another Mk1 escort crew that was on form with Martin Curzon and Rob Thomas with a penalty count of 16 seconds. Einion Williams and Rhodri Evans were another crew to do well here with a penalty count of 19 seconds, even though a slight three-point turn was required at the harpin, there were matched by Gari Evans and Arfon Griffiths, who were no doubt encouraged by Rhydian on the harpin! James Davies and George Eadon were going well here too, managing a time of 20 seconds in their Proton, and showing great commitment on the white.

                In the semi expert class, it was number 65, Robert Kemble and Will Horton in a Subaru impreza that did best, achieving a great time of 32 seconds here. Carwyn Adams and Aled James were also going great in their Mk2 Ford escort with 39 seconds. With club members Lee “eggs” Plant and Michael Phillips were pushing the little Mitsubishi colt hard and showed real commitment on the harpin, they were rewarded with a time of 53 seconds for their efforts. Andrew Ling and Jason Thomas achieved a respectful 1 minute and 7 seconds.

                Down in the novice class it was Owain Evans and Dion Phillips that did best with an excellent time of 57 seconds in the little nova. Great going from them. Unfortunately, it was an early night for the crew of car 66, Christopher Hedley and Maggie Jones as the master cylinder went as they approached the first control, forcing them into retirement, hopefully they will make a return next year with better luck. It was an early night for Vivian Jones and Dean Wiltshire too as the drive shaft broke on their Peugeot 206 as they turned into the harpin.

                From here the route took crew over a farm track and out down to Esgair-Dawe, this section was timed to the minute and some crew did receive the odd penalty, including the golf or Mark “GT” Roberts and Dylan Jenkins. On this section Andy and Michael pushed hard, using the added traction that IDZ’s four-wheel drive gave to catch the golf in front. It wasn’t unusual for semi expert crews pick up a minute or two of penalties. Once they left the track and arrived back onto tarmac the route looped around Esgair-Dawe, where the two grass triangles were used, and following them the first spectator point of the night was located as crews turned a 90 degree right towards Rhydycymerau. The second spectator point was located not too far after the first, this time a 90-degree left into the village. This is where the first section came to an end, SF4. It was Simon Summers and Dilwyn John that got the best time here, with a penalty count of 35 seconds in their Mk2 Ford escort, Rhodri Evans and Max Freeman were next, with a time of 42 seconds. Matt Barker and John Connor also put in an excellent time of 1 minute and 3 seconds.

                The route of the rally then headed down to Talley and through Cwmdu and Soar, before the next tight section which was where crew turned left and headed towards the B4302 before Salem, there was another spectator point located here, and after this crews reached SF7. Daniel “Lwni” Jones and Rhodri Evans had the best times here, both achieving a penalty count of 48 seconds, and just behind them on 49 were Andy and Michael.

                From here the route went back north slightly as competitors headed over to Waunclunda, where the complicated and somewhat confusing five ways junction is located. This time crews would right up the junction which then took crew to a very tight harpin left, this has to be one of the narrowest sections of road over the whole route and getting the approach to it wrong can be a very time-consuming mistake, once this harpin has been negotiated competitors arrive at a give way junction, where they turn right, before turning left into a very narrow and twisty road. Time control, 9 was located on this section of road. It was Daniel “Lwni” that achieved the best time here, with a penalty count of 26 seconds. Andy and Michael and Rhodri and Max tied on second best with 29 seconds here. Down in the other classes James and George were putting up quite a battle with Einion Williams and Rhodri Evans as well as Gari Evans and Afron Griffiths for expert class honours.

                Emyr Evans and Irfon Richards were going very well and achieved a very respectful 35 second here at time control 9. Lee and Michael were going strong although were struggling a little with insufficient brakes so weren’t able to push as much as they would have liked. Michael Roberts and Natasha Roberts also doing very well and rewarded with 34 seconds for their efforts. Down in novice class Dafydd Jones and Richard Williams were putting on a great performance and had a very impressive 46 seconds here.

                The rest of the first half involved a loop near Mynydd Llansadwrn before crossing the A482 and going around happy valley, before finishing just outside of Llanwrda, where competitors then went over to Llandovery for the petrol halt. It was becoming clear in these final sections that there was a four-way battle for the lead developing between the three escorts for Kevin Davies, Daniel “Lwni” Jones and Rhodri Evans, plus the impreza of Andy Davies, despite Andy having a slight excursion into gateway at the end of the first half. All four of them had been setting excellent and consistent times and there was very little separating them. Chris Hand and Aled Richards were also going at a great pace and putting up a real challenge for overall honours too.

                At the petrol halt the top 5 read like:

1st Rhodri Evans, Max Freeman, 2 minutes 12

2nd. Andy Davies, Michael Gilbey, 3 minutes 8

3rd. Kevin Davies, Alan James, 3 minutes 28

4th. Daniel “Lwni” Jones, Gerwyn Barry, 3 minutes 47

5th. Chris Hand, Aled Richards, 3 minutes 47 seconds

                Gari Evans and Arfon Griffiths were leading the expert class with 4 minutes and 8 seconds which saw them hold seventh overall. Rob Stephens and Nathan Summers held the lead in semi expert class with 6 minutes and 33 seconds, which saw them in eighteenth overall. Novice class was being led by Dafydd Jones and Richard Williams who were in thirtieth with 8 minutes and 53 seconds. Unfortunately, as with always the case in rallying there are some names featured on the retirements sheet. Steffan “DR” Davies and Justin Davies had been involved in the battle for the lead until the gear stick broke on the car. Mike Robert and Dafydd Sion Lloyd had the clutch go on their escort. Steve Knibbs and Andrew Edwards had a misfire on their Proton’s engine. Geraint Wright and Rhodri Williams had the gear linkage break on their car so also retired. Osian Jones with Llyr Davies and Owain evans and Dion Phillips had also retired, a great shame as both had been setting very good times and were involved in a great class battle. Joe Richards and David Lee had suspension problems so pulled out before anything broke and vowed to have another go next year.

                With some fifty miles completed there was still plenty left to do and plenty of action still to come, and there was an added twist with black ice now being present. The first couple of sections of the second half, which took place just north of Llandovery and snaked its way round to Harfod Bridge had to be scrapped as Rhodri Evans and Max Freeman became a victim of black ice and put the car off the road, and a detour was required to get around, both crew members completely fine.  The next section began just outside of Pumsaint and ran parallel to the A482 before turning left back towards Esgair-Dawe. Many competitors managed to get through this section penalty free despite the difficult conditions that now faced them.

                Following this it was back on to familiar territory to finish the rally, with the route now heading to Llanycrwys before turning left and going through the first ford. Following this there is a give way junction where crews turn left, and then left again onto the “tarmac white”, which goes through another ford before coming to an uphill junction. This is well known territory to those who compete in west Wales often but is a very technical section, and penalties can be very high over it. Time control 23 was located at the end of this section, and it was Daniel “Lwni” Jones that showed his experience and skills over it, as with his navigator Gerwyn Barry they achieved an excellent time of 32 seconds over it. Paul Morgan and Rhys Griffiths in their Honda civic type R also set an excellent time of 40 seconds here. Andy and Michael had a very respectful 50 seconds here in their Subaru and pushing for the lead just as hard as they had in the first half, which was now down to a three-way battle with Rhodri and Max no longer running, and Chris Hand and Aled Richards joining the retirements list with the dry sump pump giving up on their escort. The battle for expert class was still tight as ever with James and George setting excellent times in their Proton and Einion Williams and Rhodri Evans matching them in their escort. Gari Evans and Arfon Griffiths had been in the running in their escort but had a high penalty count of 4 minutes and 11 seconds at time control 23 so dropped down the order a little.

                In semi expert class it was Rob Stephens and Nathan Summers that were pushing hardest over this section which resulted in a time of 1 minute and 35 seconds. Lee “eggs” Plant and Michael Phillips had a very respectful 1 minute and 43 seconds, with Lee battling poor brakes throughout most of the rally. In novice class it was Dyfan Davies and Dion Lewis that did best here, with 2 minutes and 22 seconds of penalties gained. Amongst club members Alan Gaunt and Richard “Tyson” Morris achieved 1 minute and 40 seconds in their Peugeot 206 here. Daniel Williams and Jamie Wilson achieved a very respectful 1 minute 35 seconds and had been entertaining the crowds all night with their efforts on the slots. Andrew Ling and Jason Thomas had pulled out with Jason suffering the curse of navigator’s sickness.

                The next section involved a spectator point over one of the most famous corner on the map, and a real Lampeter rally tradition, the impossible harpin, which attracts a crowd no matter what time the of the night the rally visits this notorious bend. It involves approaching on a slight left-hand bend, which is lines with a tall hedgerow that almost blocks your view around the corner, then the road takes a sharp turn down to the right, which makes it a very difficult bend to get right, and many a 3-point (or 5 if you’re really unlucky!) turn has been carried out here!

                From here the route took crews through the village of Cellan, before turning left for the final tight section of the night, and another classic, Oxon hall. Unfortunately here Daniel “Lwni”s rally came to a premature end here, when he was caught out by black ice, which put the car off the road. They manged to jump to the finish, but their result of finishing in fifty-fourth with 3 fails gained was hardly a fair result of what had been an excellent performance, rallying can be a cruel sport sometimes. Hopefully it hasn’t put them off having another go at it next year.

                This was the final competitive bit of the rally, and is a tight and twisty section of road, and a real challenge regardless of the weather. Doing best over this section was Andy and Michael in the impreza, with a time of 25 seconds achieved, Kevin Davies and Alan James were next with 29 seconds. Simon Summers and Dilwyn John had been putting in great times all night, and arrived at the section finish with a penalty count of 36 seconds. Mark “GT” Roberts and Dylan Jenkins had been setting good times all night and managed 38 seconds. Einion Williams and Rhodri Evans finished on a high with a time of 42 seconds, and Gari Evans and Arfon Griffiths just one second behind with 43.

                Christopher Williams and Mark Kehrein were best semi expert on this closing section, with a penalty of 1 minute 13 seconds. Michael Roberts and Natasha Roberts also did very well with 1 minute 18 seconds. In the novice class Rhys Davies and Llyr Davies put in an excellent last-minute attack which was successful as they were rewarded a great time of 1 minute and 19 seconds here. Dyfan Davies and Dion Lewis had been setting consistently good times all night and ended this section with 1 minute and 42 seconds.

                With the competitive mileage complete it was over to the rugby club in Lampeter for the finish and a well-deserved breakfast for everyone after a tough but enjoyable night in the lanes. Results became available quickly and it was soon made public knowledge that Andy Davies and Michael Gilbey had won. It was great to see Andy and Michael take a well-deserved win on what had been a rally both crew members had wanted and wished to win for a number of years and had in the past had their fair share of bad luck on the event.

                The top 5 of the rally read like:

1st overall, Andy Davies, Michael Gilbey, 4 minutes 23

2nd overall, Kevin Davies, Alan James, 4 minutes 57

3rd overall, Simon Summers, Dilwyn John, 5 minutes 48

4th overall, Mark GT Roberts, Dylan Jenkins, 7 minutes 30

5th overall (and 1st in expert class) Einion Williams, Rhodri Evans, 7 minutes 40

                The retirements list unfortunately grew a little as Kevin “peclaw” Jones and Darren Ikin had been setting some excellent times all night, but the gearbox on the Toyota corolla gave up in the second half and Jamie Pickup and Ceri Davies had one of the brake pads break on their Peugeot 306.

                Kevin Davies and Alan James received first in masters’ class for their efforts on the event this year. First in expert class went to Einion Williams and Rhodri Evans after a long hard battle with James Davies and George Eadon, and James has already said he will be returning next year to see if he can get the trophy back, sounds like another great battle is in the making! The trophy for semi expert class went to the escort crew of Rob Stephens and Nathan Summers who finished in a very respectable eighteenth overall. Novice class winners were Rhys Davies and Llyr Davies after an excellent night for them, they were in twenty-seventh overall.

                After breakfast was eaten and trophies were handed out and tidying up had been done all that was left to do was catch up on sleep and begin looking forward to next years event. There is a real sense of community within the bro caron rally and that’s cannot be summed up better than by what marshal and long-time friend of Lampeter and district motor club Maurice Leach had to say about the rally

“There is a select bunch of road rallies that I marshal on, mainly because I don’t like wasting my time on an event I don’t trust, but I look forward to the two-hour journey down to Lampeter every year because I know what lies ahead, a good fair event worthy of its reputation promoted by a great group of people”

                The organisers of the rally would like to thank Lampeter leisure centre for the use of their venue, Huw Lewis Tyres for scrutineering, Gwili Jones Tractor sales for the trailer park and noise venue, Lampeter rugby club for the finish venue and breakfast, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire county councils, Morris Isaacs petrol station in Llandovery for the refuel halt, as well as all the land owners and households over the length of the route, and not forgetting all the marshals that braved the cold to help people enjoy their passion. Apologies for anyone who we may have missed unintentionally. See you all in 2019

                Many thanks must go to Delun Evans and Joseph John Gilbertson for the use of their images.