duncan llion west cork

Llion Williams guides Duncan Williams round the Irish lanes on their way to thrid overall in the West Cork Historic Rally

The weekend of the 17th and 18th of March was a busy one in the rallying calendar for Lampeter and district motor club members, with the Harlech and District motor club organised Merfyn Hughes memorial Rally Llyn taking place up on the peninsula as well as the Cork Motor club organised Quality Hotel West Cork Rally taking place over the water out in Ireland. Both rallies are very popular amongst competitors and enjoy a reputation for being well organised, no nonsense events that competitors greatly enjoy, and both saw club members competing.


                Starting in Wales the Rally LLyn was to make up the third round of the welsh road rally championship which some club members are competing in. The route was made up of some 110 miles all on the Llyn Peninsula, all of which was on OS map 123.

                In amongst the 89 starters on the entry list were a handful of club members who had ventured the distance from home to take part, with the first being the navigator of car 5 Cadog Davies, who was making a return to the navigator’s seat after helping out on the organising of the Bro Caron rally a few weeks previously. He was navigating for Gavin Edwards in a hired Mk2 Ford escort. At 9 was the Bro Caron winning pair of Andy Davies in his usual Subaru Impreza and once again he was partnered by Michael Gilbey, they were hoping to repeat their Bro Caron result on this event and get in amongst the numerous competitive locals that this event always attracts. Dafydd Evans was another one making a return to competing after also having helped out with the organising of the Bro Caron, he was back navigating for Craig Judd in Craig’s Peugeot 306 GTI6. At 30 in his immaculately prepared Mk2 Ford escort was Gari Evans, he had Richard Williams sat with him for this event. Richard Hughes was meant to be navigating for Einion Williams in another Mk2 Ford escort, but after getting the car up there and taking it off the trailer the car didn’t seem to want to run right at all, so they tried checking over everything they could and changed a few of the settings but it was not to be as the car still wouldn’t run right, so the car ended up back on the trailer and out of the rally, needless to say both crew members were a little disappointed and downhearted, but no doubt they will be back with unfinished business to settle.

                With everyone gathered at the start in Pwllheli for signing on and plotting of the route a close eye was kept on the sky as there were reports and rumours that snow could be a problem, particularly later on in the event and on higher ground, thankfully it didn’t seem to materialise till after the event had finished. With the route plotted it was off to he lanes for the first sixty miles of competition that made up the first half of what was going to be a pretty eventful event.

                The first couple of sections of the rally ended up being scrubbed, due to a car blocking a road and a re route having to be carried out, this meant that the first time control of the night that counted ended up being STC8, timed to the second this is where crews first picked up penalties on the route. Gavin and Cadog were already experiencing braking problems with the car but even so set an excellent time of 39 seconds at this control, a great achievement considering. Andy and Michael were another crew to have car difficulties as the clutch had began to play up on IDZ, although they also had an excellent time of 35 seconds here, which put them into the top three on this opening section. Gari Evans and Richard Williams set a very respectful time of 58 seconds here at time control 8. It was unfortunately to be an early night for Craig and Dafydd as the bottom arm on the Peugeot snapped, forcing them into retirement.

                The next tight section came soon after, and that was to be at Time control 10 (STC10), Gavin and Cadog were still running but now the car developed a knocking noise from the engine, it didn’t look like they were going to get much further as the limped through the section and recorded a time of 1 minute and 2 seconds, this wasn’t really a true reflection of their performance as they were within contention to take a very strong result on this event had they had a little better luck. Andy and Michael were still going well and manged a penalty count of 1 minute here. Gari and Richard were still going well in their escort and achieved a time of 1 minute and 29 seconds here.

                Time control 12 was the last tight section of the first half for most of the front runners of the rally, and here Andy and Michael had another impressive time of 16 seconds here, considering things were not going to plan they were still setting very impressive times and still in the battle for victory. Gari and Richard were finding a good rhythm now and managed a very impressive time of 36 seconds here.

                With the first half taken care of it was over to Llanbedrog for the refuel halt, as things stood it was Andy who was best amongst club members, as he and Michael held fourth overall in the Subaru which by now was almost without a clutch at all. Their penalty count was 1 minute and 51 seconds. Gari and Richard were holding fourteenth in their escort with a penalty count of 3 minutes and 55 seconds.

                With refuelling taken care of Andy and Michael decided after a brief discussion to carry on and try and get the car round to the finish to score points for their welsh championship bids.

                The second half of the rally was just as tight as the first, with half a dozen tight sections for crews to negotiate through among the fifty of so miles that were included. One of the first of these sections was at Time control 18, where even at a reduced pace Andy and Michael managed a penalty count of 56 seconds, whilst this was down a little on the best time here it was far from the worst time, one can’t help but wonder what sort of times they would of set had everything been ok on the car for them. Gari and Richard managed 1 minute and 32 seconds. Time control 20 was the next tight section, and here Andy and Michael actually went and set the best time over it, with a penalty count of 30 seconds, a great achievement for them considering they were nursing the car round to the finish. Gari and Richard were still going well and managed a very respectful time of 1 minute and 2 seconds.

                There were more tight sections following as the route began to head back to Pwllheli, and by the end of it the clutch on Andy’s impreza had all but vanished! Even so they managed to get themselves round to the finish, where they were rewarded an excellent fourth overall and third on the master’s class for their efforts, and excellent result for them given the circumstances of the night. This was enough to secure Andy and Michael maximum points for the welsh championship for this round as no crew in front of them were registered for the championship. Andy now in fact leads the driver’s championship after the first three rounds, and will no doubt be present on the Night Owl rally in a few short weeks’ time. Gari and Richard managed a very respectful twelfth overall and third in the expert class in their Mk2 ford escort, a great result for them especially as Gari hasn’t done that much rallying recently, which made his result even more impressive.

                The rest of the weekends action took place over in Cork, where the West Cork rally took place over the weekend. Out in Ireland they are gifted with having closed road rallying, a feature that hopefully will be soon adopted for rallying here over in Britain. It makes for a very popular sport where competitors can experience the lanes in daylight and without the risk of running into any traffic on competitive sections. It’s no wonder that many like to hop on to the ferry and venture over to the Island to sample the sport and have a good “craic” while they’re there too. On this year’s entry list from Lampeter and district were Tomas Davies who had Eurig Davies navigating for him in car 32, he was using a Mk2 Ford escort on this event. In the historic section of the event Llion Williams was navigating for Duncan Williams in another Mk2 Ford escort, they were seeded at 12 in the historic section. Ian Davies was down to compete in his BMW M3 with Wyn Thomas navigating but they withdrew their entry.

                The rally was made up of fourteen stages over 2 days of competition which totalled some 130 miles of rallying, with the first eight stages taking place on the first day, and the following six the day after.

                The opening stage of the day was the 12 miles Ring stage, which this year had a slightly different layout to previous years, following that the second stage was to be Clogah, then there was a repeat of them making up stages 3 and four. Tomas and Eurig had a great start to their rally and found themselves in the top thirty after the four stages, however their rally was to come to a premature end as they retired in stage 5, Newcestown 1. A great shame as they had been doing very well in amongst a very strong entry. The historic rally began on stage 5, and Llion guided Duncan round the opening stages successfully, beginning with sixth fastest historic on the opening stage. Ballincascarthy was the next stage, and there again they set an excellent time of 8 minutes and 13.4 seconds, this lifted them to fourth overall in the historic event.

                The final stages of the day, 7 and 8, were a repeat of Newcestown and Balliancascarthy, and Duncan and Llion held onto their fourth overall position through setting excellent times on the second running of the stages, but with one day down and another still to run nothing had been finalised.

                The second day began with the sun shinning brightly, but snow was always a threat in the cold conditions, the days stages would consist of three stages, ran twice, and the first of these was to be Ardfield, on this stage Duncan and LLion managed to climb up to third overall on this stage with one of the other competitors running into trouble. The set an excellent time of 7 minutes 22.7 seconds here. Sam cross and Rossmore were to be the two next stages, and on both stages Duncan and Llion set more good times, good enough for them to hold onto their third overall position.

                With the first loop taken care of, all was to do was to repeat their earlier performance on the second loop of stages, which they in fact did, Duncan driving a quick but careful pace with guidance from LLions pace notes they managed to successfully pass through the second loop of stages, securing a fantastic third overall in the historic category and achieving a very respectful second in class, as well as being the first Pinto powered car home, a great achievement for them.

                Many thanks must go to Duncan Williams for the use of use of his image for this report.