Francis Fires on All Four
Posted on September 01, 2014
An outstanding performance against many of the UK’s leading rally crews has put Rhuddlan driver Luke Francis back in the driving seat in the battle for the Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship. Luke and co-driver John H Roberts were clearly on a mission when they set second fastest time on the opening stage of Saturday’s (August 30th) Eventsigns Woodpecker Rally in their Mitsubishi Evo IX.
They were only ever headed during the event by the far more powerful Ford Focus World Rally Cars of eventual winners Paul Bird and Aled Davies and runners up Steve Perez and Paul Spooner and their eventual third place overall was enough to give them maximum championship points and move Luke clear in the standings of closest rival Wug Utting, from Surrey while John heads the co-driver category from Daventry’s Chris Williams.
Williams and his driver Alex Allingham, from Northwich, took Group N honours, for near showroom specification cars, in their Subaru Impreza to close the gap to category leader Utting, driving a similar car, to just three points with one round of the championship remaining.
There was disappointment for Haverfordwest driver Roland Llewellin and co-driver Jamie Edwards from Wrexham when they were forced to retire their Evo IX with engine problems on the final stage of the event. That leaves Roland lying in fourth place in both the overall and Group N standings while Jamie slips from the lead into third place in the co-driver standings.
Tom Naughton crashed heavily on this event last year but he and co-driver Andy put that behind them to claim a top 10 finish in their Evo IX
Another strong performance in his Mark 2 Escort sees Yorkshire’s Matthew Robinson extend his lead over Carmarthen’s Terry Brown, driving a similar car, in the two wheel driver category while James Hamer of Leominster took top honours in the under 25 drivers category driving his Subaru Impreza on his home event. While Penmaenmawr’s Rory Jones retains second place in the category there was disappointment for James Watkins of Welshpool as his Nissan Micra suffered engine failure on the fourth stage. Siobhan Pugh from Newtown leads the under 25 co-driver standings.
If there was a championship award for bad luck, meanwhile, it would surely go to Aberystwyth’s Gareth Evans and Eryl Evan of Llanon, a blown engine on their Vauxhall Corsa making it three non-finishes on the three championship events they have started this year. An early retirement in their Citroen C2R2 also prevented Caerphilly driver Nathan O’Connor, co-driven by Jessica Rogan of Cardiff, from tying up Class 4 honours and he is now tied on points with Ponthir’s Graham Thatcher going into the final round.
The final round of the Pirelli MSA Welsh Rally Forest Championship will be the Cambrian Rally. The Llandudno based event takes place on October 18th.
You can find out more about the event on the website, http://www.cambrianrally.co.uk and about the Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship at http://www.wnrc.wamc.org.uk, on the Championship Facebook page, or on twitter, @WnRC.