Young Welsh duo conquer the Galloway Hills. Ieuan Rowlands and Darren Garrod produced a sensational comeback performance to grab the maximum points in the KUMHO Clubmans section of the Park Systems National B Rally this weekend. The young ...
Young Welsh duo conquer the Galloway Hills.
Ieuan Rowlands and Darren Garrod produced a sensational comeback performance to grab the maximum points in the KUMHO Clubmans section of the Park Systems National B Rally this weekend. The young Ffestiniog driver went from third to first on a dramatic final stage, grabbing 12th overall in the process after a fine drive.
Hull driver Andy Carter was in hot form on the opening stages. He and co-driver Carl Briggs set two consecutive Top Ten stage times as they led from James Potter and Scot Allan McDowall. Rowlands admitted that he was being too cautious, whilst Potter, the championship leader, was content to remain in second place. Unfortunately for Potter, he was to retire in the most unfortunate of circumstances. A puncture on the third stage didn't seem to bad at first. With 5 miles left to go, Potter elected to drive on. Unfortunately, the wheel broke on the Escort, smashing the brake disc and calliper in the process. A bitterly disappointed Potter was forced to call it a day.
Another front runner, Alistair Adams, was also content to just reach the finish in his Escort RS. The Bewdley driver was convinced that his engine was down on power compared to earlier in the season, and a brace of punctures later in the afternoon were to ruin his day. With no spare left in the car, Adams had no option but to crawl through the final Loch Grannoch stage, avoiding any rocks and stones in order to reach the finish. Alistair and Andrew made it to the end, and took the championship lead in the process.
In the classes, the battle for 1600 honours went to Ian McCulloch on this occasion. The Oxon driver with his trusty Toyota Corolla GT was pushing as hard as he could, and loving the super fast Scottish stages. Ian survived a puncture on the final stage to take a well earned class victory, and third in the overall Clubman points standings.
Second in the 1600cc class was the Proton Satria Kit Car of Iain Shirlaw/Martin Moore. The Motorsport Direct car lost second gear on the very first stage, making it difficult to drive for the rest of the day. Iain also suffered two nearside punctures in Loch Grannoch, having to stop and change the front tyre in order to get out of the stage. Iain's frustrating outing was rewarded with second in class and 5th in the points.
Winston Clarke and Rob Allen had made the long journey from North London to contest the event, and suffered from throttle problems on the opening loop of stages. Winston thought that the underbonnet temperatures were causing the cables to melt. Adjustments were made at service and the Twickenham driver was delighted to finish 7th in the points after a tough but very enjoyable rally. In the smallest class for 1300cc cars, Ruthin driver Huw Littler-Jones was rewarded with maximum points in his Skoda Felicia. With Denbigh man Geraint Lloyd Williams on the notes, Huw was happy to reach the end, especially when the team had to weld up the exhaust after some of it was left behind in the final stage!
However, back at the front of the field, the final stage was to be the most dramatic of the season so far. Carter was comfortable in first place, having built up a good lead and was enjoying trading times with another Yorkshireman, the legendary Steve Bannister. Whilst 'Banner' got to the end, Carter did not. The Escort was reported to be off the road after an accident mid way through the final stage. A sad end to a fine drive.
Carter's loss should have been Allan McDowall's gain. The popular Scot in his rare Opel Kadett had been in fine form all day. Unfortunately lady luck had decided it wasn't going to be Allan's day either. A double puncture in the Loch Grannoch stage meant that Allan was lucky to get to the finish at all. McDowall and Gavin Heseltine slipped from first to fourth in less than a couple of miles.
The two drivers who profited from all of this were Rowlands and Stoke man Howard Forrester. The Escort Mk4 driver had kept out of trouble as best he could all day, and second to the flying Welshman was just reward for an excellent drive. The result was also Howard's best KUMHO Championship result of the year.
Back at the finish, the champagne and smiles were reserved for Ieuan Rowlands and Darren Garrod. Luck had certainly played its part in the result, but Rowlands now stands a real chance of lifting the 2003 KUMHO Clubmans Rally Championship title. James Potter will be a hard man to beat on the Bulldog Rally next month, so its anyone's title in Shrewsbury!