The lovely mid-Wales spa town of Llandrindod Wells hosted the 4th round of the Peugeot TOTAL 206 Super Cup, with classic stages in the surrounding forests, and with heat and dust the contrast to the Manx. The drama began even before the event...
The lovely mid-Wales spa town of Llandrindod Wells hosted the 4th round of the Peugeot TOTAL 206 Super Cup, with classic stages in the surrounding forests, and with heat and dust the contrast to the Manx.
The drama began even before the event had started, Alastair Moffatt had been unable to repair the damage to his car following his accident on the Manx Rally. In order not to waste his entry, he and co-driver Mathew Pearce switched seats and Mathew drove his historic MG. Sadly, not slowing down for a jump caused some damage and they retired. In the 206 Cup proper, Stuart Jones waited until morning to change his clutch and only just made it to the start line.
The fourteen Peugeot 206 Cup competitors were faced with a long first stage, fourteen miles through Radnor. Ieuan Rowlands was fastest with Stuart Jones just a second behind despite the car jumping out of gear, and Mike Faulkner a further seven seconds down after a half spin. Returning to the Cup after missing the last round due to his racing commitments, Tom Boardman struggled with intercom failure and dropped 36 seconds on the leader. Paul Jones was a further three seconds behind in 5th place after having a half spin into a ditch, followed by Jon Tucker who also reported getting away with a huge moment half way through the stage. Andy Pawley was struggling to get into the notes. Stephen Petch had caught and passed a Subaru, as did Trevor Martin while Clive Wheeler also caught the same car. Championship leader Gareth MacHale had hit a chicane, damaging the front suspension and leaving him bringing up the rear, with a minute and a half to make up. Jonathan Sparks retired on Stage 1, a broken gearbox 10 miles in not a particularly good wedding present for co-driver Tina who ties the knot in a couple of weeks.
After a welcome 20 minute service at the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells, the cars set out for a loop of 5 stages totalling 33 stage miles through the Crychan Forest complex. Stuart Jones had sorted out his gear linkage problem in service, but dropped to third place on Stage 2 after it gave trouble again. However, he set fastest time on the very next stage to regain second place by less than a second only to lose it again on Stage 5 when he was held up by the previous car who had had a puncture. Jones commented it couldnt have been worse, only one clean stage. It would have been good to battle closely with Ieuan. Rowlands meantime had increased his lead to 36 seconds over Mike Faulkner as they returned to the Showground for the second time. He said Its hard to know how to push, but Im on a comfortable pace. I think Ive squashed my exhaust, and we are about to take 2 extra Kumho tyres. Mike Faulkner meantime commented Im trying really hard. Had a massive moment in 6th gear in Crychan that took over 200 yards to sort out. I think I am losing time in the tighter corners, not the quick stuff.
Stage 5 claimed Michael OBrien, who ripped the nearside rear wheel off the car. Tom Boardman was another to take Joker tyres and laughed that he was now experiencing tyre wear in rallying! Trying to keep it clean and down the middle were his tactics keeping him in 4th. Paul Jones in 5th was really enjoying the earlier stages, but with the tyres down to the canvas, was taking it carefully in the last couple.
Gareth MacHale had improved up to 6th at this point, but wasnt pushing too hard anymore. Jon Tucker was confused as he felt he was driving really quick with loads of grip, but had a hole in the exhaust which put him down on power, leaving him in 7th place. Andy Pawley had never seen so much dust, hoping his service crew could find the hole in the floorpan, while in 9th, Clive Wheeler was matching his game plan of taking it easy to get to the finish. Stephen Petch rounded off the top ten and commented that the rally was fast and furious, but Im driving like a woman!. Trevor Martin was enjoying himself in 11th, and while Matt Jessup rounded off the finishers, he was soon to retire as he uncovered a broken rear beam hub bearing in service.
The Cup runners went out for the last batch of three stages in the Tywi forest, a long 13.75 mile stage, followed by 4.86 and the shortest stage of 3.56 miles making up the mileage. Stuart Jones was flying on the main Tywi stage, taking 15 seconds out of Faulkner to regain his 2nd place overall. MacHale was back on form in 3rd fastest, while Rowlands had backed off his pace on the rough bits to preserve his car in 4th.
Jones took another fastest on Stage 8 to increase the gap over Faulkner but with Rowlands only 3 seconds behind on this stage, there was not much chance to close the gap for the lead of the Cup.
At the end of the day, Rowlands and Kelvin Savage made no mistakes on the last three stages, consolidating the lead he had earned earlier, and finished the rally on the top spot, also achieving his aim of finishing in the top 20 of the event overall. Jones was pleased to put his earlier dramas behind him and have three clean stages, showing his pace. He thought he could have come away with a win, but had to be satisfied with his second 2nd place of the year. Rounding off the top three podium places was Scotsman Mike Faulkner who had tried very hard through the day. He couldnt quite break the fastest times domination of the first two, but had been giving battle all day.
Tom Boardman took 4th place in the Cup with a string of personal firsts his first finish & points score in the Cup this year and his first National A rally result, and with credible stage times, showing he is no slouch in the rally world too. He was finding the comparison from racing to rallying quite marked earlier, but enjoyed the long mileage to settle back in. Paul Jones found the last few stages very dusty as they consolidated their 5th place, while Gareth MacHale was pleased to have continued his climb back through the ranks to finish 6th. On dropped scores, he still reckons on being second in the Championship so not too downhearted with his day.
Jon Tucker in 7th place hit a big rock on Twyi which made his handling horrible, and the car cutting out on the last pair of stages didnt help his progress but he really enjoyed the hairpins. Andy Pawley took the only puncture of the Cup today, but thankfully on the road section to the penultimate stage. He finished the day in 8th on a steady run. Taking the Veteran points, Clive Wheeler was pleased as he had set out to finish today after his Astra accident and achieved the maximum mileage possible.
Rounding off the top ten was Stephen Petch, who was off the pace on Stage 7, so decided to just drive for a finish but still picked up a cheque from Peugeot. Last finisher was Trevor Martin who had some problems with his brake bias but enjoyed an excellent rally.
The new Championship leader is now Ieuan Rowlands, who along with Kelvin showed he has truly mastered the 206 Super Cup car and deserves the plaudits of the Llandrindod Wells audience.
1 Ieuan Rowlands/Kelvin Savage 1:17:11.8
2 Stuart Jones/Richard Edwards 1:17:33.1
3 Mike Faulkner/Peter Foy 1:17:53.4
4 Tom Boardman/Richard Pashley 1:18:41.1
5 Paul Jones/Darren Garrod 1:19:30.2
6 Gareth MacHale/Clive Jenkins 1:19:33.8
7 Jon Tucker/Scott Cleverdon 1:20:42.3
8 Andrew Pawley/Howard Pridmore 1:21:06.6
9 Clive Wheeler/Ken Bartram 1:21:18.6
10 Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson 1:21:53.0
11 Trevor Martin/Ray Cleghorn 1:23:29.4