Welsh duo Julian Reynolds and Ieuan Thomas put in a splendid performance on the latest round of the SCCA Pro Rally Championship, the Ojibwe Forest Pro Rally in Northern Minnesota. Late replacement Thomas guided Reynolds to his second consecutive...
Welsh duo Julian Reynolds and Ieuan Thomas put in a splendid performance on the latest round of the SCCA Pro Rally Championship, the Ojibwe Forest Pro Rally in Northern Minnesota. Late replacement Thomas guided Reynolds to his second consecutive FIA Group N category win in the Team Dynamics USA backed Subaru Impreza WRX.
The West Walian pair adopted a steady approach to the first day in their Prodrive rented and Pirelli shod machine. Reynolds had taken a fine Group N victory on the recent Maine Forestry Rally with co-driver Duncan McMath alongside. Business commitments prevented McMath from partnering Julian in Minnesota, so Thomas, Reynolds regular co-driver in the UK, stepped in.
The Subaru Impreza WRX was again proving to be a strong and reliable performer on the very high speed yet technical stages found on the event. Reynolds commenting that the stages were similar to those found in Finland, due to the sandy like surface at times. Fortunately, the Pirelli tyres were doing a great job and Julian and Ieuan planned to step up the pace for day two.
With the Open Class cars of Tim O'Neil/Alex Gelsomino and fellow British crew Barry Johnson/Stewart Merry within striking distance, Reynolds was quickly into his stride as the rally entered its closing stages on the second day. As Johnson found a bit more pace to pull away, Reynolds and Ford driver O'Neil were fighting tooth and nail. A noisy fourth gear was Julian's main concern. Using 3rd and 5th gear for much of the time was Reynolds's way of keeping the Impreza going at the right pace - and more importantly - keeping him in the battle for 5th overall with O'Neil.
Unfortunately for Julian, a final stage "moment" was to cost him around 20 seconds due to a slightly flattened exhaust. Julian finishing just fifteen seconds behind the American driver after an eventful 17 mile final stage. Fortunately for Reynolds, the gearbox had held together and the all Welsh pairing brought their Ferodo and NGK backed Subaru home in a fine 6th place overall, just under three minutes ahead of their closest Group N rival, Mark Utecht. For Julian, it was another satisfactory result on a rally he had no previous experience of:
"I'm very pleased with our result this weekend. The high speed and technical nature of the stages meant there was a lot of work for Ieuan to do with the notes, and he did a superb job. The car ran faultlessly, apart from a noisy fourth gear. Aside from that, all we did was put fuel in and tyres on and the Subaru was absolutely superb."
"Once again I was very impressed with the standard of rallying in the USA. Although we finished a fair way ahead of second in Group N, it was great to see that both Mark (Utecht) and Shane (Mitchell) were still fighting hard right to the end, as they finished the rally on the exact same second! It was an extremely enjoyable rally and I'm really looking forward to my next outing in the SCCA Pro Rally Championship. Hopefully I'll be able to get a hat-trick of Group N wins for Team Dynamics and myself!"
Reynolds next outing will be slightly closer to home for the Narberth based fencing contractor. After driving the latest Subaru Group N car in the USA on the last two events, Julian will be shaking down his rebuilt Group A Subaru Impreza 555 on the forthcoming Sweet Lamb Stages. The world renowned testing venue is the ideal place to test the car and Julian hopes to be able to return to rallying in the USA in the near future.