Julian Reynolds had to fight against all the odds just to make it to the start line of the Network Q Rally of Great Britain, but luck wasn’t on the Welshman’s side for the event, as the Minilite Wheels and Reynolds Fencing supported driver suffered a final stage retirement due to a mechanical failure.
Partnered by Ieuan Thomas for the pair’s home round of the World Rally Championship based in Cardiff, Julian was still recovering from a nasty bout of Chicken Pox as the crew lined up for some of the most testing stages in the forests of South Wales.
With no pre-event test possible as a result of Reynolds illness, the crew spent the first part of the rally getting used to life in the Geoff Jones Motorsport prepared Group A Subaru Impreza 555 again.
A steady start on the first day was interrupted by a heart stopping 6th gear excursion on the Brechfa forest stage, as the fortunate Narberth driver explains:
"A marshal was waving a flag at us, and as I made my way up the hill, I could see a vehicle driving onto the stage behind me. At the same time, I changed up into 6th, whilst Ieuan was calling a 90 left bend! The car went off at about 80 mph, but luckily we didn’t hit anything. There were plenty of spectators on hand, so it took 20 minutes to get the car out of the bog. The stage was cancelled due to an accident, so we actually only lost 2 minutes rather than 20, as we were given an average time for the stage".
Lucky to get away with the incident, and equally lucky to have a puncture on a road section rather than on a forest stage, the Welshman could have been forgiven for thinking that his recent run of bad luck had taken a turn for the better. However, after a steady run through day two and day three of the rally, the pair started the final stage heading for a Top 30 finish, but Reynolds own brand of bad luck returned yet again:
"About 2 miles into the last stage, Margam, we came into a corner where it had been obvious that everyone was hooking the inside of the bend, and we set the car up for the same approach. The car half spun to the inside of the road, and within the grass was a large hole. The nose dropped slightly into the hole, resulting in some bonnet and front wing damage. Worse still, the impact had knocked the cambelt cover which pulled the cambelt off. The engine was damaged so we had to stop."
Despite being terribly disappointed to retire on the very last stage, Reynolds gained valuable miles behind the wheel of the car, and is looking forward to getting out in the car again as soon as possible. With the Impreza now requiring some engine repairs before its next outing, the team have set themselves a target of competing on the Red Kite Stages in South Wales early in 2002, for some more match practice.
The team will be announcing its rally programme for next season shortly.
Reynolds Rallying– Supported by Minilite Wheels, Reynolds Fencing, H F Smith and Sons Ltd and Slush Puppie.