2020 bro caron Andy

Andy Davies and Michael Gilbey guide their Impreza in front of huge crowds to victory

             The 29th and 1st of March saw the annual Bro Caron road rally held by Lampeter and district motor club. One again sponsored by Windy corner coaches, this year’s event saw Dafydd Evans and Cadog Davies take over the role of clerks of the course after three very successful events at the hands of Marc Hughes who stepped down from the role although was still helping out. Between them they put on a route of some 95 miles all on OS map 146, with the majority of the route taking place on the southern half of the map. Once again it featured in the welsh road rally championship and for this year it was the opening round so needless to say the entry filled at an incredibly quick rate, with over 90 entries received in the first hour of regulations being available, unfortunately such was the popularity that a number of crews found themselves on the reserves list, crossing their fingers that a space would become available.

                Those that did manage to find themselves on the entry list included last years winners Kevin Davies and Alan James who took the number 1 spot in Kevin’s regular Mk2 Ford escort. As last years winners as well as several other victories all over the country this pair had to rank among the favourites for victory again this year. Behind them were another escort pairing of Mark Lennox and Ian Beamond. They won the welsh road rally championship in 2019 so were definitely in contention of taking victory in their Honda powered escort here. The number 3 slot went to former welsh champions and event winners, plus the first of club members with driver Andy Davies once again taking the wheel of IDZ, the Subaru Impreza that has served him well on rallies all over the country as well as overseas. He had regular navigator Michael Gilbey taking care of map duties again. John “tyres” Davies and Eurig Davies took the fourth slot in a Vauxhall astra GTE, John and Eurig are multiple event winners and John has wo this rally in the past so were another crew to keep an eye on. Number 5 went to George Williams who had Aled Richards with him for this event. George took the runners up spot in last year’s welsh championship and with guidance from vastly experienced Aled Richards sat next to him they too were among the favourites. Irfon Richards were behind them at 6 in another Mk2 ford escort, they would be another crew to watch with plenty of experience in both sides of the car. At 7 were Mark “GT” Roberts and Dylan Jenkins in Mark’s familiar purple Mk2 golf GTI. Mark and Dylan are another crew that have plenty of victories together and are capable of winning in any part of the country. 8 went to Kevin Kerr and Huw Rhys Manion, they were another pair choosing the ever poplar Mk2 ford escort as their wagon of choice, as were Gavin Edwards and Daniel Jones in their hired example. Another escort followed, with this one belonging to Mike Roberts and accompanied by Dafydd Sion Lloyd. They rounded off a highly competitive top ten.

                The talent continued far beyond the first ten, with Malcolm “tar” Jones and Rhys Jones, whilst this pair normally focus of stage rallies, they do occasionally like to compete on road rallies with the Bro Caron being their clubs’ event so they always make the effort to enter. Their vehicle of choice was a Peugeot 206 GTI 180 model. At 12 were Richard Jerman and Ryan Griffiths, Richard was a regular on welsh road rallies a few years ago and was making a return to the lanes on this event, they were another pair using a Mk2 ford escort. Chris Hand and Simon Jones were up next at 13 in Chris’ Ford Sierra. Chris has been getting some excellent results lately including a couple of victories and he and Simon had the potential to do big things here. Martin Curzon and Gerwyn Barry took the fourteenth slot in Martins Mk1 Ford escort. The Mk1 isn’t a commonly rallies car any more and makes a nice addition to any rally when an example is entered. They would be another crew capable of a top finish. Rounding off the top fifteen were Matthew Jones and Richard “Tyson” Morris in a Vauxhall astra GTE.

                First off in the exert class were Rhodri Evans and Geraint Jones in a BMW 318, right behind them were Gari Evans and Richard “ty capel” Williams in Gari’s Mk2 ford escort. Both crews were capable of an excellent result. Paul Morgan and Jamie Mills followed them in a Honda civic type R at 23 and at 24 were Dafydd Morgan and Kieran Price in the now very popular Peugeot 206 GTI. James Davies and George Eadon were at 25 in James’ new Proton compact GTI, freshly built after damaging his previous example on the Classic tracks last year. They were another pair capable of big things. Dewi Davies and Rob Thomas followed them at 26 in a Vauxhall astra GTE, Dewi set some incredible times on last years event so was a real threat for a good result on this year’s event. At 27 and brining out his escort for the first time in a while was Alan Gaunt who for this event would be accompanied by Carl Williamson. 29 went to club members Tim Evans and Paul Jones who hired a Proton Satria GTI for this event and were a crew well capable of a class win. Club regular Daniel Williams was at 33 with regular navigator Shaun Richards, they were in Daniel’s regular BMW which was now powered by a Honda engine so would be one to keep an eye on.

                In the semi expert class it was Michael Roberts and Natasha Roberts that were first off at 45 in a Mk2 Ford escort, it would have been Lee Plant and Mike Roberts that were deemed to run but unfortunately they had to pull their entry on the way to scrutineering with suspected head gasket failure. Ioan Lloyd and Daniel Evans were at 46 in another escort and would be ones to watch with rallying running in Ioan’s family with farther being multiple rally winner Gareth Lloyd. Ioan is definitely following in his father’s foot steps and has already shown potential in the lanes.

                Llyr Davies and Gareth Joes led novice class off at car 70 in a Proton Satria They were followed by Steffen Evans and Connah Urquhart who were out in a Subaru impreza. Rounding off the entry at car 90 were club members and first timers Arthur Jones and Nathan Plant in a Peugeot 206 GTI.

                In the end 87 cars gathered at the start car park outside of Lampeter leisure centre. Signing on began at 5 o’clock in the afternoon and steadily competitors signed themselves on for a night of action. Scrutineering was held at Huw Lewis Tyres and noise was at Gwili Jones Tractors. Once competitors had passed through there, they joined everyone else at the car park, once again a burger van was on sight and had a queue of people there all night who wished to fill up before heading into the lanes. At 10 o’clock clerk of the course Dafydd Evans held a driver’s briefing to inform all competitors on the running of the event. Once this was done route cards were handed out and one by one eager navigators picked theirs up and began plotting in the cars. There would be some 27 Time controls, 65 passage controls plus give ways, cautions and a couple of quiet zones all to be plotted onto the maps.

                The first car left the car park at 11:50 ready for the first section, which was to be at the village of Parc-y-Rhos. The section began just off of the A482 and went west out on to the A485 before turning back in towards the village. It is a very technical piece of lane and a favourite among competitors for providing an enjoyable challenge with many twists and turns and camber changes in the road. From here competitors turned left and went south to the first white road of the night at the top of Pencarreg. Time controls 2 and 3 were located along this stretch, with time control 2 being timed to the minute and time control 3 to the second. Most competitors picked up a minute at this clock although some of the lower runners had more. There were around a dozen that managed to ass through penalty free which included car 1, Kevin and Alan as well as Andy and Michael in the Subaru.

                Time control 3 was the first clock timed to the second where everyone gathered penalties. Best here were Gavin and Daniel in the escort that received 22 seconds here, although they had picked up a minute at the first clock, which allowed them to begin the next section with a full minute extra in effect. George and Aled had similar circumstances and picked up 26 seconds at time control 3, followed by Mike and Dafydd on 27 seconds. Dewi and Robwere among the best experts on this section in car 26. They had a penalty of 51 seconds here. They were closely followed by Thomas and Richard Hughes in car 37, another Mk2 ford escort, who had 54 seconds, one second behind them on 55 seconds were Alan and Carl in their escort.

Also doing well here were semi experts Ioan and Dylan who received 57 seconds. This was an excellent tie for this young driver, and best in novice were car 84, a Peugeot 106 belonging to Sion Jones and Rhys Jones who had 1 minute and 8 seconds.

                From here there was another white road down into the village of Esgair-Dawe where the first spectator point was located. From the white competitors arrived at a grass triangle where they went around the long way and out to a give way junction, from the junction they took a left which put that them at another give way junction, where they went left again. Following this there was another grass triangle which they again took the long way around, followed by a tight uphill harpin left bend by the chapel where a huge crowd of spectators gathered. The section finish was located just after here and again competitors gathered penalties. It was Mike Roberts and Dafydd Sion-Lloyd that did best here as they stopped the clock on 34 seconds in their escort, hot on their heels were George Williams and Aled Richards who had 38 seconds. Kevin Davies and Alan James were next on 45 seconds. Up to now the weather had mostly been dry and clear although some sleet had begun to fall on higher ground, thankfully it didn’t last.

                It was already an eventful night for many with Andy’s Subaru breaking a driveshaft along this section so they took it easy until they could pull in at the end of it to carry out repairs. For some their rally had already come to an end with the escort belonging to Mark Lennox and Ian Beamond retiring with a damaged steering rack and punctured wheel so they called it a night, as did the Peugeot of Malcolm “tar” Jones and Rhys Jones who sheared one of the bottom ball joints of the car clean off so they also retired.

                It was Alan Gaunt and Carl Williamson that did best among the experts here at Section finish 5, their penalty count was 54 seconds. Steve King and Dave Thomas were also doing well here and achieved a time of 57 seconds here. In the semi expert class, it was Malcolm Jones and Gary Thomas that did best with 1 minute and 38 seconds gathered here. A great time by them in their Nissan Almera GTI. They were two seconds in front of the Honda Civic of Paul and Alan Hands. In novice class it was car 78, Iwan Hands-Davies and Tomos Evans that did best in their Peugeot 206 with 1 minute and 46 seconds gained.

               2020 bro caron John tyres

John "tyres" Davies and Eurig Davies on their way to class 1 victory

              From here the route crossed the A482 and began just outside the village of Ffarmers where the route then passed through Cwrt y Cadno before turning back towards Pumpsaint where the second spectator location was. Section finish 8 was at the end of this little section and again competitors gathered penalties here. Chris Hand and Simon Jones pushed really hard over here and were rewarded with a time of 41 seconds for their efforts, great going by them. Kevin and Alan were also going well and achieved 46 seconds here. Arwel Evans and Nick Bloxham in their hired Mk2 ford escort also did very well and achieved 48 seconds here. Alan Gaunt and Carl Williamson were best among the experts with 54 seconds gained in their escort, and right behind them was the 206 of Dafydd Morgan and Kieran Price on 55 seconds.

                It was Ioan Lloyd and Dylan Evans that were best Semi Experts again in their escort who even in this early stage of the rally were on course for an excellent result as they achieved a time of 1 minute and 11 seconds here. In the novice class Llyr Davies and Gareth Jones were doing well with 1 minute and 39 seconds.

                The route then headed south once again and began just outside of Hafod Bridge. This was a very tricky section with very tight lanes with plenty of dips and climbs along the road. This section had three give way junctions where competitors went left at each one on their way to time control 10. It was Kevin and Alan in car 1 that set the standard over this section as they only picked up 11 seconds of penalties. The route briefly went north again towards Caio forest. From here the road ran to the east and then south east through a forestry track, and time control 12 was located at the end of it. Andy and Michael put the Subaru’s four-wheel-drive transmission to good use here and achieved an excellent time of 15 seconds through here, a time that no other competitor could match, although Gavin Edwards and Daniel Jones did very well on 36 seconds. The final section of the first half took place just outside of Cilcwm, which was section finish 13, and again competitors gathered penalties at this clock. It was John “tyres” Davies that did best here, he with navigator Eurig Davies managed to pass through here only gaining 9 seconds of penalties, their astra was one second head of the escort of Mike Roberts and Dafydd Sion-Lloyd.

                It was into Llandovery then for the refuel halt where competitors have a quick rest before tackling another demanding half. The top 5 positions read as:

1st. Andy Davies / Michael Gilbey              4 minutes and 15 seconds

2nd. Kevin Davies / Alan James                    4 minutes and 42 seconds

3rd. John “tyres” Davies / Eurig Davies     4 minutes and 48 seconds

4th. Gavin Edwards / Daniel Jones              5 minutes and 5 seconds

5th. Irfon Richards / Daniel Stone               5 minutes and 39 seconds.

                The leading expert class competitors were Dafydd Morgan and Kieran Price who were in ninth overall with a penalty count of 7 minutes and 14 seconds. It was no surprise that Ioan Lloyd and Dylan Evans held the semi expert class lead as they lay in eighteenth overall with a penalty count of 9 minutes and 33 seconds. Novice class was being led by Steffen Evans and Connah Urquhart with a time of 13 minutes and 39 seconds, this saw them lay in thirty fifth overall.

It had been a very challenging first half and many competitors had an eventful time. James and George had a mis firing engine in the first half which they had managed to fix in the petrol halt. Huw and Owen Rowcliffe had a puncture in the first section so had lost some time as they had to limp around until they could change the wheel. Unfortunately, there were also some retirements on the sheet, which included the escort of Martin Curzon and Gerwyn Barry who had a misfire on their escort’s engine. Richard Morris were also out with a holed radiator and Arthur and Nathan had been enjoying their first time in the lanes until they broke a drive shaft just before the petrol, putting an early end to their rally.

2020 bro caron Gari cwm

Gari Evans and Richard "ty capel" Williams on their way to a class win

                The second half began with a short section just outside of Llanwrda. Here Kevin and Alan had one of the tyres blow out on their escort so they cut some of the route to insure they stayed within maximum lateness, although this did mean that they picked up some fails and dropped down the leader board. The route around this section was another twisty affair, and featured another grass triangle that competitors had to drive the long way around. Section finish 15 was located shortly afterwards and here it was Andy and Michael setting the pace in IDZ, with a penalty count of 35 seconds. Just behind them were cars 5 and 22, which were George Williams and Aled Richards plus Gari Evans and Richard “ty-capel” Williams who both had 39 seconds.

                A short neutral section followed back near Hafod Bridge, although this time the route was to the west of the village. Here competitors travelled north-west up towards Crugybar before turning back down to Waunclunda, before finishing just outside of Halfway. There were three clocks located along this section, they were time control 17, 18 and section finish 19. Time control 17 wasn’t a tight section so the majority passed through without gaining any penalties, but time control 18 was a lot tighter and on a far trickier section of road. This clock was timed to the minute and almost everyone here picked up at least one minute, although both Andy and Michael as well as car 32, the BMW of Daniel Williams and Shaun Richards both went through penalty free. Section finish 19 was the next clock and the road leading into it is a notoriously difficult one which snakes between two tall hedgerows before competitors approach a difficult junction often referred to as “five ways” which sees five road connect. Here competitors arrived at the give way junction and head to turn a harpin right hand bend which is very tight and a wrong approach can easily lead to time loss with three-point turns required.

                Here at section finish 19 it was the escorts of George Williams and Aled Richards plus Richard Jerman and Ryan Griffiths tied for time on 41 seconds. Gari and Richard were next on 47 seconds. Ioan and Dylan were best semi exert with 1 minute 3 seconds and leading novices were Jac Dark and Gwenllian Bulamn-Rees who had 1 minute and 15 seconds. There followed another short section from Maerdy to Soar. Section finish 21 was located here, and by now the temperature began to fall and the wind also picked up, giving a chill factor this made making marshalling something of an experience! Unfortunately, after managing to cure his mis fire the Proton of James and George broke a drive shaft along the second half which put them into retirement. At section finish 21 it was Tim Evans and Paul Jones that did best with 13 seconds of penalties gathered here, excellent going by them. Gari and Richard were next on 22 seconds, closely followed by Mark “GT” Roberts and Dylan Jenkins in their golf on 25 seconds as well as Chris Hand and Simon Jones who also had 25 seconds. Michael Roberts and Natasha Roberts were leading semi experts here with 43 seconds gained. Leading reserve entries here were the reserve crew of Ashley Thomas and Oli Lloyd who were running at car 44 in a Ford fiesta. They had a time of 1 minute and 12 seconds here, unfortunately this crew had gone over time limit at Main control 2 but still ran.

                From here the route was meant to travel through the village of Abergorlech but unfortunately that section had to be cut out of the route the day before the event, so the next section took place just outside of Llansawel where the final spectator point was located. The first part of this section was straight forward and the majority passed through penalty free, but the going soon got tough again after time control 23, where competitors turned off the road into a farm track that came out near the village of Harford. From here competitors crossed the A482 and went into Ffaldybrenin. Kevin and Alan had re-joined the route at this section and they as well as all of the other front runners picked up 1 minute of penalties here.

                The next section was in classic Bro Caron territory, with a section through Llanycrwys where competitors turned left at the give way junction, from there it was a tight and twisty run up towards the next junction where competitors turned left through a ford before arriving at the next give way junction. Here competitors turned right and then arrived at another give way junction, this time turning left, all before arriving at time control 25. This was probably one of the tightest sections of the whole route, and here everyone picked up penalties, with Arwel Evans and Nick Bloxham being least penalised with 1 minute and 5 seconds in their hired escort. One second down on them were Andy and Michael who were pushing the IDZ as hard as ever. Chris Hand and Simon Jones were next on 1 minute 14 seconds in their sierra, and one second behind them were Richard Jerman and Ryan Griffiths. Rhodri Evans and Geraint Jones were also doing well here in their BMW with 1 minute and 20 seconds. They had in fact been doing well all night and were involved in a real battle with the escort of Gari Evans and Richard “ty-capel” Williams who had also been having a good night. In the semi expert class Ioan and Dylan were on a storming run with 1 minute and 32 seconds. Jordan Evans and Johnny “bop-bop” Hands also did well in 1 minute and 44 seconds. In novice class Llyr Davies and Gareth Jones had an excellent time of 1 minute 55 seconds in their Proton. Hot on their heels were Steffen Evans and Connah Urquhart on 1 minute 58 seconds.

2020 bro caron Dan

Daniel WIlliams and Shaun Richards negociate the spectator location in their BMW                

The next section involved a couple of quiet zones so wasn’t tight and therefore pretty much no one picked up a penalty there. The final section of the night was another tricky one which involved competitors travelling through Cellan before turning left back out of the village. Section finish 27 was at the end of here and it was Arwel and Nick that did best, picking up 37 seconds of penalties, a great end to a good night for them. Next up were the BMW pair of Rhodri and Geraint who achieved a time of 40 seconds. Kevin and Alan had a strong end to their night with 48 seconds gained here. In the semi expert class Michael Roberts and Natasha Roberts did very well with 47 seconds, a time that would of out them comfortably in the top ten here. Jordan and Johnny also did well here with 1 minute of penalties gained. In the novice class Jac Dark and Gwenllian Bulman-Rees ended their night with an excellent time of 1 minute and 3 seconds. Elian Lewis and Ryan Jones also did well here with 1 minute and 9 seconds.

                With the competitive mileage done it was back to Lampeter to the rugby club for a well-deserved breakfast and results. After a long hard night, it was declared that the winners of the 2020 event were Andy Davies and Michael Gilbey, who for the second time in three years had manged to guide IDZ around the tight and twisty lanes of OS146 to victory. Their final penalty count was 9 minutes and 59 seconds. At the end of the event Andy commented “The second bro Caron win in three years was every bit as sweet as the first, on a rally that, as you know is very close to my heart. It was great to just make it to the finish after our recent run of bad luck but even better to return to winning form.” Congratulations to him and Michael. The top five at the end of the event read as

1st. Andy Davies / Michael Gilbey               9 minutes and 59 seconds

2nd. John Davies / Eurig Davies                    11 minutes and 49 seconds

3rd. George Williams / Aled Richards        12 minutes and 3 seconds

4th. Mike Roberts / Dafydd Sion-Lloyd     12 minutes and 39 seconds

5th. Arwel Evans / Nick Bloxham                 13 minutes

                Expert class was won by Gari Evans and Richard Williams who had finished in an excellent sixth overall with 13 minuets and 34 seconds. Semi expert class was won by Ioan Lloyd and Dylan Evans who finished in fourteenth overall with 17 minuets and 50 seconds. Novice class was won by Elian Lewis and Ryan Jones who finished in thirty-first overall with 26 minutes and 46 seconds. Unfortunately, there were more retirements on the sheet which included Kevin Kerr and Huw Rhys Manion with Kevin feeling unwell. Cambrian Winners Huw and Owen Rowcliffe also retied in the second half with a car that kept cutting out due to a sensor.

                The organisers of the rally wish to thank all of the marshals, landowners and residents of the area who had a disturbed night, as well as Huw Lewis tyres for scrutineering, Gwili Jones for the noise and trailer park venue, Ceredigion council for the car park and their co-operation, Dyfed Powys police, for their assistance and everyone else, Lampeter rugby club for the finish venue and breakfast as well as everyone else who volunteered their time to help with the running of the event. The organisers are already looking forward to the next running of the event. Thanks also must go to Joseph John Gilbertson for the images that went into this report.