Andy west cork

Andy Davies slides his Impreza along the slippery stages (FOKUS photography)

                The weekend of the 16th and 17th of March saw club members once again take the ferry over to the Island or Ireland to compete on the ever-popular Clonakilty Park West Cork rally, a rally which would be making up the second round of the British rally championship as well as second round of the Irish tarmac championship. The rally consisted of 15 stages held over two days giving nearly 140 stage miles.

                Lampeter and district motor club were well represented on this event, with Meirion Evans and Jonathon Jackson competing in the international event once again in their Hyundai I20. They were seeded at 21 and out for points in the British rally championship. Also joining them in the international rally was Andy Davies with regular navigator Michael Gilbey at 71, they were out in Andy’s Subaru Impreza and aiming to add points to their group N bid in the Irish tarmac championship.

                In the national rally Tomas Davies was out in his Mk2 Ford escort with Eurig Evans navigating for him. They were at 47. In the historic rally Ian Davies was out once again in his BMW M3 with Wyn Thomas navigating for him, they were seeded at 20 in the historic rally seeding.

                The historic rally would feature eleven stages with the first being stage 6 for the main field which gave the historic competitors almost 100 miles of competition.

                Ring 1 was the first stage of the rally for the main field and it was an eventful one for the crews running in the international rally with Meirion and Jonathon loosing 15 seconds due to spimming the car and Andy and Michael snapping the hand brake on their Subaru which cost them some time on the tight harpin bends along the route, even so Meirion and Jonathon achieved seventeenth quickest time with 8 minutes and 34.2 seconds. Andy and Michael achieved twenty-eighth with 8 minutes and 54.4 seconds in the Subaru. In the national rally Tomas and Eurig had a great start to their event with an excellent time of 8 minutes and 46.6 seconds, this saw them in sixth overall in the national event.

                The second stage of the day was Dunworley 1 and on it Meirion admitted he had trouble finding a rhythm on this stage, even so he and Jonathon managed a very respectable time of 8 minutes and 52.5 seconds on it. Andy and Michael managed a highly credible time of 9 minutes and 29.9 seconds. In the nationals Tomas and Eurig managed another very good time of 9 minutes 31.1 seconds.

                Stage 3 was the second run over ring (Ring 2) followed by Dunworley 2 which was stage 4 following this there was a service halt and the Hyundai of Meirion Evans developed an issue with fuel pressure which they unfortunately had with them on the following stage which temporarily halted their rally. Andy and Michael pushed very hard on stage 4 (Dunworley 2) which saw them take the quickest time in group N and lifted them to only 3 seconds behind the leading group N car. It was a premature end for Tomas Davies and Eurig Davies who retired with a misfire on their escort’s engine on stage 4, a great shame as they had been doing very well.

                Stage 5 was Shanaway 1 and at this moment Andy was the only club member running and locked in a battle for group N lead. They managed another great time of 8 minutes and 55.9 seconds lifting them to twenty-first overall in the international event.

                Stage 6 (Sam’s cross 1) is where the historics joined the event and the first stage for Ian Davies and Wyn Thomas in their BMW M3. They began their event with a respectable 11 minutes and 47.6 seconds on this stage.

                Stage 7 is where Meirion Evans and Jonathon Jackson re-joined the event having gotten to the bottom on the fuel pressure issue and were immediately back in the swing of things with an impressive time of 8 minutes and 57.3 seconds on this stage. Due to having problems on the earlier stage and missing a coupe they were running under rally 2 rules so overall, they were down in thirty-ninth place. Andy and Michael pushed hard but caught a car that had gone off the stage so were delayed by thirty seconds here, even so managed a respectable time of 10 minutes and 13.6 seconds. This little hold up dropped them back down to twenty second overall.

                In the historic rally Ian and Wyn were doing well on this stage with 12 minutes and 3.0 seconds.

                For the last loop of stages ending the first day Andy and Michael were running on wet stages that were not the most suitable tyre for the now drying roads and their times suffered slightly due to this, even so they pressed on hard and were the quickest group N car on the final stage of the day (Clonakilty) with a very impressive time of 1 minute and 2.5 seconds. Meirion and Jonathon were making up for lost time and setting an excellent pace on the later stages with Meirions confidence growing on each stage. Their time for the final stage of the day was 57.3 seconds. Ian and Wyn were still doing well in the historic rally and rounded their day off with a time of 1 minute 20.3 seconds.

                The weather was nice and dry for day 2 so Andy decided to run on slick tyres for the first time, having only ever done two tarmac rallies previously which were both in wet conditions. Their sponsor Hankook tyres had given them a few different compounds to try so they had the perfect tyres for the conditions. Andy took to them quickly and enjoyed the grip that they provided. He and Michael used stage 10 (Clogagh 1) to learn how they responded and managed a highly respectable time of 9 minutes and 21.3 seconds here. Meirion and Jonathon were beginning to really enjoy the rally and managed a magnificent time of 8 minutes and 17.8 seconds on stage 10. Ian and Wyn were still going with a very respectable time of 9 minutes and 21.3 seconds in their M3.

                It was drama on stage 11 for Andy and Michael as they put the car off the road causing no damage but costing some 30 seconds of time loss. The pushed hard on the following stage, (Ardfield 1) to make up the time loss and were rewarded with an excellent time of 5 minutes and 40.5 seconds, which was the fastest group N car. Meirion and Jonathon were pushing hard too and achieved an excellent time of 5 minutes and 5.9 seconds here on stage 12. In the historic rally Ian and Wyn lay in fifteenth overall after setting a time of 6 minutes and 27.8 seconds here.

                Stage 13 proved to be unlucky for Andy and Michael as Andy slid wide on some mud on a corner which put the car into a ditch, costing them another thirty seconds, Andy admits they were very lucky to continue here as their rally could have come to an end here. This dropped them down a little here and they lost ten seconds to the leading group N car. Meirion and Jonathon were still charging through the stages with Meirion altering the setup of the car constantly through the day and after the thirteenth stage they lay in thirty-first overall, a bit of a “what could have been” had they had better luck on the previous day. Unfortunately, Ian and Wyn’s rally came to a premature end as they retired before stage 13.

                The final two stages of the day saw Andy and Michael settle for second in the group N category of the rally but they continued to push on to improve their experience and on the final two stages of the day managed to set the quickest times in group N for their efforts. This saw them finish the rally in an excellent twenty-thrid overall and second group N with a time of 2 hours 6 minutes and 53.6 seconds. In doing so they retain their lead in group N in the championship.

                For Meirion and Jonathon they had an excellent end to their rally with Meirion feeling he had one of his best drives ever after setting a string of excellent times. They finished in a very respectable thirty-first overall with a total time of 2 hours 14 minutes and 1.4 seconds.

                Andy thoroughly enjoyed the event and its fantastic atmosphere and enjoyed the challenging conditions on the stages with the weather changes and mud in places that appeared on corners from cars cutting. He found it to be a steep but enjoyable learning curve but cannot wait for the next round of what is one of the most competitive and enjoyable tarmac championships there is.

                Meirion Also very much enjoyed the event and was very happy to swapping times with what was a very strong entry and looks forward to the next round of the British championship.

                Many thanks must go to Fergal O’Keeffe of Fokus photography for the use of their image.