Narberth rally driver Julian Reynolds swept to a convincing victory on today's Sweet Lamb Stages Rally in Mid Wales. Partnered by regular co-driver Ieuan Thomas (Ammanford), Reynolds recovered from a time consuming off on the third stage to take...
Narberth rally driver Julian Reynolds swept to a convincing victory on today's Sweet Lamb Stages Rally in Mid Wales. Partnered by regular co-driver Ieuan Thomas (Ammanford), Reynolds recovered from a time consuming off on the third stage to take victory by over a minute after 55 miles of gravel stages near Llangurig.
Julian had recently been competing with some success in the USA in a Group N Subaru Impreza WRX. This time, Julian was driving his own Group A Subaru Impreza 555 - a quite different beast. Reynolds planned to use the day as a test session for the latest asymmetrical tyre pattern from sponsor Yokohama, and all was going well until the third stage.
A particularly tricky left hand bend in the northern loop of Hafren caught out Reynolds and Thomas in their Geoff Jones Motorsport run machine. Around 30-40 other cars fell victim to the same corner, and over three minutes were lost extricating the Subaru from scenery, but fortunately no damage had been done to the car. After 18 competitive miles in the Sweet Lamb and Hafren Forestry complex, Julian had dropped way down to 27th place, giving him a real mountain to climb.
The Welshman revelled in the challenge posed. In less than thirty competitive stage miles, Reynolds clawed back all the time he had lost off the road, and began to build a lead of his own, with team-mate John Lloyd in his similar car just behind in 3rd place. Reynolds set fastest time on all seven remaining stages.
Julian was delighted with the performance of the new tyres, as he and the Yokohama engineers present tried a number of different patterns, compounds and tyre cuts during the day to see what worked best on the car. Reynolds was also testing a revised and rebuilt engine prior to an outing on the penultimate round of the Pirelli British Rally Championship, The Trackrod Rally Yorkshire. With the car performing very well indeed, it was a delighted Reynolds and Thomas who took a deserved one minute and seven second victory over Tim Freeman and Paul Bardon in their Mitsubishi Lancer:
"It wasn't turning into the best of days when I went off the road!" said Julian. "Fortunately that time loss really spurred us on to the finish, and we achieved everything that we set out to do today in the process. The car worked extremely well, and the new range of Yokohama asymmetric tread pattern tyres really impressed me.
We tried a number of different choices and tyre cuts, and we really had them working well in the afternoon. It was certainly a very worthwhile exercise in coming here for what was a well organised rally with a considerable amount of stage mileage on offer. It was a good day all round, and not just for us, as our team mate John Lloyd also had a podium finish."
Reynolds heads to Yorkshire next for the Trackrod Rally on September 27/28, before completing his British Rally Championship programme on the final round of the series, the Tempest Stages Rally in Aldershot. Julian finished second overall on both the rallies in 2002, and will be hoping to repeat that kind of form in the Yokohama and Minilite backed Subaru this year.
Final Results - Sweet Lamb Stages Rally:
1. Julian Reynolds/Ieuan Thomas (Subaru Impreza 555) 62.45.
2. Tim Freeman/Paul Bardon (Mitsubishi Lancer) 63.52.
3. John Lloyd/Pauline Gullick (Subaru Impreza) 64.22.
4. Bob Morgan/Dave Saunders (Ford Escort Cosworth) 64.49.
5. Ieuan Rowlands/Darren Garrod (Ford Escort) 65.11.