Ffestiniog driver Ieuan Rowlands produced another stunning display of his natural driving talent as the 25 year old Welshman took maximum points on the Bulldog Clubman Rally - taking the 2003 Kumho Clubman Rally Championship title in the ...
Ffestiniog driver Ieuan Rowlands produced another stunning display of his natural driving talent as the 25 year old Welshman took maximum points on the Bulldog Clubman Rally - taking the 2003 Kumho Clubman Rally Championship title in the process.
Rowlands was partnered by Huw Lewis for the event, and the pair had a simple task. Outscore his series rivals James Potter and Alistair Adams, and the title would be his. Adams however, was in no mood to relinquish his slim chance of title glory that easily, as he took an early lead in his Ford Escort RS. Rowlands was close behind in second, with Potter recovering from his slow start to take third early on.
Adams surprisingly admitted that he was struggling to get into the rhythm of the event, despite leading. The Bewdley pairing were also struggling to get used to the route notes on the event as they arrived in service. Ieuan on the other hand was enjoying the early test, and once again, his faithful 1600cc Escort was running well. As the cars left service for the second run in Sweet Lamb, Rowlands took the lead from Adams, with Potter taking second fastest on the stage.
Those not enjoying such great fortune on the event included Junior Champion Joe Price, who suffered yet another agonising mechanical problem in his Talbot Sunbeam. Steve Magson had been enjoying the early stages in his near 300bhp rear wheel drive Astra. Unfortunately, the SM Autocare backed driver retired with a ball joint failure on the last stage of the event. Magson joined on the sidelines by Allan McDowall, as the Opel Kadett driver had a day of gearbox problems that ultimately forced him to retire.
Sadder still, the only other retirement from within the Kumho Clubman front runners was to be one of the championship front runners. Alistair Adams went off in the Gartheiniog stage and was unable to get back on track to maintain his valiant title charge. With Adams gone, it meant that Rowlands had just two stages left in order to claim the title. With James Potter unable to match Rowland's times in the afternoon, the young Welshman just about held his nerve on the final stage to take a very popular and hard earned victory in his severely underpowered Escort.
Away from the title battle, the usual championship suspects were all in good form as they found the forests of Mid Wales in superb condition, if a little slippery in places. In the 1600cc class, the other Rowlands brother, John, was also enjoying the home stages. The elder brother upheld family honour in fine style, finishing runner up to the extremely rapid sibling! Just behind John was Ian McCulloch. Always hard charging in his Toyota Corolla, Ian was rewarded for his season long efforts with the Kumho Star of the Meeting award for his third in class. Competing on a tight budget, Ian was delighted to receive a prize of four free Kumho tyres for his year long campaign.
Ian finished in front of championship rival Iain Shirlaw on the day, but the Motorsport Direct man has just edged out McCulloch in the race for championship class honours. Shirlaw had a frustrating day in the ex-Martin Meadows Proton Satria Kit Car. Losing second and fourth gear didn't help early on, but Iain soldiered on to the finish, grabbing 4th in class.
In Class 3, Steve Finch took the honours, despite a sick sounding engine at the finish of the rally. Finch edging out the similar cars of Pete Rayner, Richard Allingham and Winston Clarke in a well supported Kumho Clubman class result. James Potter took the maximum points in Class 4, whilst the Mini of Rob Belcher overcame 2 minutes of road penalties to take the class win ahead of Huw Littler-Jones' Skoda Felicia.
KUMHO Clubmans Rally Championship - Final Championship Positions:
Ieuan Rowlands 119 points.
James Potter 103 points.
Alistair Adams 97 points.
Ian McCulloch 84 points.
Iain Shirlaw 80 points.
Allan McDowall 79 points.
John Rowlands 73 points.
Winston Clarke 61 points.
David Gratrix 60 points.
Andy Carter 59 points.