BRC

Rally of Wales SEAT Review

Brave Evans keeps SEAT at the top (21th March 1998) SEAT continues to lead the Mobil 1 British Rally Championship after a brave performance by Gwyndaf Evans in his Ibiza ‘Evo 2’ Kit Car on the final day of the Vauxhall Rally of...

Brave Evans keeps SEAT at the top (21th March 1998) SEAT continues to lead the Mobil 1 British Rally Championship after a brave performance by Gwyndaf Evans in his Ibiza ‘Evo 2’ Kit Car on the final day of the Vauxhall Rally of Wales. Fastest time on the day’s opening stage saw Evans move from his overnight third position into the lead. Just as it looked as if the Welshman would extend his advantage in the forests of mid and north Wales, Evans sustained a double blow in Sweet Lamb (stage 12). Halfway through the stage he hit a dip flat-out in sixth gear, injuring his back, and then he was forced to stop for over nine minutes to fix a steering problem. The delay dropped Evans from first to 23rd overall, and having burnt his hand on a hot brake disc whilst fixing the car, he bravely launched a stunning comeback attack. Bruised and blistered, Gwyndaf set fastest time on the final three stages (making a total of 10 fastest times on the event’s 17 stages) was rewarded with seventh overall and third championship contender. "Everything was going very well, then suddenly we hit a big compression in the middle of the road," said Gwyndaf. "We were travelling flat-out in top gear at the time and I only had enough time to brace myself, but I knew it was going to hurt. It’s a good job the Ibiza’s suspension is so good, otherwise we could have had a big accident. The car coped with it better than my body! "We carried on, obviously a little more wary of dips and bumps," continued Gwyndaf. "Then the steering began to feel loose and three miles from the end of the stage we had to stop. We could see the steering track rod had come adrift, and we had to jack the car up and take the wheel off before we could fix it. "It was such a shame to lose so much time, but it’s been a fantastic," added Gwyndaf. "It’s been very encouraging the pace of the team, the car and myself and I believe we are quickly becoming a real force to be reckoned with in British rallying." Team-mate Barbara Armstrong played a crucial role in Gwyndaf’s result. A magnificent drive in her SEAT Ibiza ‘Evo 1’ Kit Car was rewarded with her first top 10 British Rally Championship finish. Furthermore, it gave SEAT the insurance policy to give Gwyndaf the go-ahead to push hard on the closing stages in the knowledge that Barbara could collected the important manufacturer points if more problems befell Gwyndaf. Requested by the team to guarantee a finishing position mid-way through the day, Barbara drove intelligently to bring her Ibiza home a superb 10th overall. "I’m really happy to finish in the top 10," said Barbara. "We lost over two minutes in Sweet Lamb – ironically the same stage Gwyndaf hit problems on– when we went off the road three times. I think somebody was trying to make us stop in Sweet Lamb, but we survived - I was just disappointed to have lost so much time. After that we were told to maintain our pace and make sure we reached the finish unscathed. That’s not such an easy thing to do when the pace is fast and the stages challenging. It’s great to be in a position to help the team gain a good result, and I’m delighted with the result." Gary Savage, Head of Marketing and SEAT Cupra Sport, was extremely impressed with the performance of the team. "We have achieved many good things on this event," he said. "It’s the first time we have had to change strategy mid-event and optimise our second car for the benefit of the team. Tactically we are now very strong. We have clear direction, a great team spirit and everyone is working very well together. "I have the greatest admiration for Gwyndaf," added Evans. "To continue with injured ribs and a burnt hand was brave, but to drive so hard in the closing stages to gain such a good result was remarkable. Barbara has also been very impressive. She has delivered everything we have asked of her and she has played a key role in SEAT’s success."

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Series BRC
Drivers Gwyndaf Evans