Clinical Rowlands aims for the hat-trick on the 'Dean'. Friday 6 February 2004. - [YORK] ProSpeed Motorsport head to the Forest of Dean next for the final round of the Peugeot 206 Winter Cup, and all eyes will be on ProSpeed Scholarship winner...
Clinical Rowlands aims for the hat-trick on the 'Dean'.
Friday 6 February 2004. - [YORK] ProSpeed Motorsport head to the Forest of Dean next for the final round of the Peugeot 206 Winter Cup, and all eyes will be on ProSpeed Scholarship winner Ieuan Rowlands as he tries to make it three wins from three, despite already having won the title with two maximum scores from two starts.
The 26 year old Welshman from Llan Ffestiniog in North Wales has taken the series by storm after winning ProSpeed's inaugural scholarship in a tense final last December. Less than two weeks later, the 2003 Kumho Clubman Rally Champion was making his tentative first steps in a front wheel drive rally car in the Scottish forests of the Galloway Hills Rally. Rowlands and his fellow Welsh co-driver Kelvin Salvage started steadily, but increased their pace throughout the day to take a surprise victory on the opening round, by exactly a minute margin.
If that had opened the eyes of the other 206 Winter Cup competitors to the potential of the former Ford Escort driver, the Red Kite Stages Rally would see Rowlands produce arguably the best ever drive in the 206 Winter Cup since it began in 2002.
Not only was the ProSpeed Motorsport run machine fastest Cup car on every stage of the rally, Rowlands embarrassed a huge number of competitors in more powerful machinery by finishing an incredible sixth overall on the event - even having the audacity to set third fastest time overall on the penultimate stage - despite claiming to have "backed off". Rowlands and Savage secured a two minute margin of victory on the event - after a memorable performance in the rain and fog of South Wales.
And so to the final round in Gloucestershire. Rowlands has never contested the Wyedean Rally before, so it will be a stern challenge for the crew. Another strong set of Peugeot 206 Winter Cup drivers are making the journey to the Chepstow Racecourse based event in search of pre season practice ahead of the opening round of the Peugeot 206 Super Cup, which begins on the Rallye Sunseeker at the end of the month.
ProSpeed Motorsport MD Olly Marshall was looking forward to seeing Ieuan's final appearance as part of his drive for winning the ProSpeed 2003 Scholarship, and is starting to turn his attention towards the 2004 competition:
"I think its fair to say that Ieuan has surpassed everyone's expectations with the two performances so far. Each time the car has come back without a single scratch on it, and the enthusiasm Ieuan and Kelvin have shown since being involved with our team has been fantastic. Ieuan has been a terrific advert for the quality of our Scholarship, and we will all be supporting him on the Wyedean Rally, where we sincerely hope he can make it three wins out of three in the championship. It would be a fitting end to the 2003 ProSpeed Scholarship prize!
For 2004, plans are now underway to make the Scholarship bigger and better than before. We're investigating a number of possibilities that will hopefully see the winning driver enjoy a season of rallying in a Group A Peugeot 206. I don't think there is a prize on offer in the UK that provides such support for a driver currently, so I'm extremely optimistic that we can go on to greater things this year with the ProSpeed Scholarship. Interest has already been very high for this year, so we can only hope that the winner of the next Scholarship final goes on to be as successful as the winner of the first."
The Wyedean Rally covers around 45 miles of slippery forest roads within the popular Forest of Dean. An almost clay like surface can make the levels of grip change rapidly in differing weather conditions, so Rowlands will have to be on his game once again if he is to score a very popular rally hat-trick.