Shear frustration for Hughes at home. Welsh rally starlet Simon Hughes was left feeling down but not out after failing to finish the International Rally of Wales, but Simon's own personal disappointment was lifted by the fact that a number of...
Shear frustration for Hughes at home.
Welsh rally starlet Simon Hughes was left feeling down but not out after failing to finish the International Rally of Wales, but Simon's own personal disappointment was lifted by the fact that a number of his key rivals for the Championship failed to make it to the end as well.
Running over two days in the classic forests of North and Mid Wales, Colwyn Bay based Hughes was determined to step up the pace in the Super 1600 Category of the Kwik Fit -- Pirelli British Rally Championship arrived in Dolgellau. 21 year old Hughes partnered as usual by experienced Ruthin co-driver Calvin Cooledge.
The ProSpeed Motorsport run Renault Clio Super 1600 car was in good shape for the rigours of the Dyfi and Dyfnant forests on the Saturday leg of the rally, and Hughes was keen to get off to a good start in the baking conditions.
Unfortunately for the Elf Oils and PIAA backed youngster, he soon hit a wall of thick dust halfway through the opening stage, and had to back off as a result of the limited visibility. Dust was again a problem on the Dyfnant stage as Hughes felt the frustration of catching other driver's dust. A better time on Stage 3 gave Simon more confidence and he arrived in service relaxed ahead of the final two stages of the day.
A solid showing on the fourth stage pleased Hughes, but when changing the tyres front to back in between stages, Hughes realised there was a problem with the left front wheel, as two of the bolts holding the wheel on had sheared off. With only two studs holding the wheel on, Hughes and Cooledge tried to coax the Renault through the final stage of the day -- but only a few miles in -- the Clio grounded to a halt as the two remaining studs gave up the fight and the Clio lost a wheel.
With no other choice but to retire, Hughes was a frustrated man back at service. Fortunately, Simon's key rival's also struggled on the event, and the young Welshman admitted that things could have been worse:
"It was just one of those freak things that happen with cars from time to time. I'm sure that the problem will never happen again, and that is the only way to look at this kind of thing. The dust had hampered us in the first few stages and we were trying to make up time in Stages 3 and 4. Unfortunately, that plan didn't work out as we were forced to retire on Stage 5. The only good thing was that a number of competitors close to us in the Championship battle also failed to finish, so it could have been a lot worse. I've had some good results in Scotland where we head next, so I'm really looking forward to the Scottish Rally. Hopefully the dust won't play a major part -- but if it does, it will be the same for everyone."
Hughes will travel to the Acropolis Rally in Greece next, where he will be working as part of the ProSpeed Motorsport team for the remainder of the Junior World Rally Championship in order to gain a wider experience of the World Championship events and stages.