mel clacton rally

Melvyn Evans on the way to winning the Corbeau seats rally (JNAS photographic)

The 22nd of April was a day of firsts, as Chelmsford Motor club held the first ever closed road rally in England. It had been a very much eagerly awaited rally and attracted a strong entry that filled very quickly, with competitors from all over the country descended down to Clacton and Tendring to compete on the Corbeau Seats Rally Tending and Clacton. Members from Lampeter and district motor club were included on the entry list, with car 1 going to multiple event and championship winner Melvyn Evans out in a World Rally specification Subaru Impreza. He had Sean Hayde on pace note duties. Melvyn’s son Meirion took number 6 with regular navigator and fellow club member Jonathon Jackson. They were out in an R5 specification Ford Fiesta. Mark Glennerster was navigating in car 9. He was navigating in a Ford Fiesta for Michael O’Brien. Andy Davies was making his tarmac debut in his group N Subaru Impreza at 16, he was partnered once again by Lee Taylor having competed on many road rallies together over the past few years. In all the rally attracted 111 entries with 107 of them starting.

                The rally was made up of fifteen stages in a series of three loops of five stages, giving competitors some 45 competitive miles to enjoy.

                The rally began with a short stage of 1.88 mile. Melvyn was the quickest of club members on this stage, setting a time of 1 minute 50.4 seconds, good enough for second overall. Meirion and Jonathon achieved the ninth best time with 1 minute 56.2 seconds. Michael and Mark were fourth quickest on 1 minute 54.0 Finding his feet on tarmac with twentieth overall on the opening stage was Andy in his Subaru with a time of 2 minutes, 1.7. Sadly, Andy and Lee had a very short rally as the turbo broke on the days second stage, forcing them into retirement, an unfortunate end to their tarmac debut.

                The second stage of the day was a 3.30-mile affair, and on this stage, Melvyn set his first quickest time of the day, stopping the clocks on 2 minutes 57.4 seconds. Meirion and Jonathon were sixth quickest on this stage with 3 minutes 7.3 seconds. Michael and Mark were on 3 minutes 4.2 seconds, good enough for third overall here.

                The next three stages had lengths of 2.41 miles, 3.67 miles and 1.78 miles, and Melvyn used them to open a lead over his competitors, setting quickest times on all of them. Meiron and Jonathon were very consistent and featured in the top ten on all of the stages.

                Come the end of the first loop of stages, Melvyn Evans and Sean Hayde held first overall by some 12 seconds with a total time of 12 minutes and 13.9 seconds. Michael and Mark were in fourth overall with a time of 12 minutes 39.8 seconds. Meirion and Jonathon were in sixth overall with 12 minutes 59.4 seconds.

                Then the second loop of stages began, all a repeat of the first loop. Melvyn went out and set fastest time on all of them in what was turning out to be a dominant performance. Michael and Mark were also another very consistent crew, by being fourth quickest on all of the stages on the second loop, which saw them hold their fourth overall. Meirion and Jonathon kept themselves in the top ten with very quick and consistent times which come the end of the second loop saw them lay in eighth overall.

                The days final loop of the stages once again saw Melvyn Evans and Shaun Hayde set quickest time on every stage of the loop. Which no surprisingly saw them take overall honours on the event with a time 36 minutes 12.8 seconds, and with a winning margin of 12.5 seconds, an excellent result for them.

                Michael O’ Brien and Mark Glennerster also had an excellent day and finished a highly impressive seventh overall with a total time of 38 minutes 5.3 seconds. Unfortunately, Meirion Evans and Jonathon Jackson retired on the day’s final stage whilst holding a position inside the top ten. A shame as they had been doing well all day and a retirement on the last stage of the day cruel end to the day.

                Everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy the event and it is hoped that it will be the first closed rally of many inn England and hopefully Wales will soon follow suit with a closed rally or two this side of the border. On winning the event and placing him (with navigator Sean) in the history books Melvyn Evans gave a short speech with “The rally was brilliant and to win the first one in England was special. The event ran like clockwork and the spectators were amazing. Hopefully it’s the start of a new era with more of the same to come.”

                Many thanks must go to Spencer Morgan of JNAS photographic for the use of his image for this report.