Aberystwyth & Districts MC’s Night Owl road rally has been a bit of a nemesis of mine, being one of my first DNFs back in 2012, so on the 26th of April 2014 I find myself sat in a car park in Aberystwyth waiting to give it a go again!
The start venue was as brilliant as ever, with the added radio/loud speaker which was set up it turned the start into a brilliant atmosphere for everyone, competitors and spectators alike! Best start venue I’ve been to since the Cilwendeg 2012 I would say, well done! As usual we were sent off to a different location to plot so there were no prying eyes trying to find a spot to watch.
The route looked brilliant, with several sections loops around and not giving me much space to plot everything in. It started off with 3 special tests around farms and tracks. On the first test was a railway bridge which the cars passed under to create some nice photos! Unfortunately for us this is where our rally started to fall apart, well, the car! With the 90 right just after the bridge this is where we managed to snap the rear damper mount on our borrowed car, causing it to bounce all over the place thereon.
The second test saw a very tight hairpin right and a cleverly placed codeboard on a slippy uphill section, causing us a few problems trying to pull away and with a Subaru soon catching us up we finally got going.
The third test was around a large farm going around bales and through sheds. A very wet and slippy filed caught a lot of crews out on the way out as they pirouetted down the hill towards the gateway.
Then into the lanes starting just below Penrhyn-Coch, through Cefn Lllwyd hairpin and down towards Capel Bangor, heading east just before along a few whites and looping back up towards Penrhyn-Coch. Unfortunately for us the car was bouncing all over the place and understeering into anything over a 60, so we pulled out as the car was still drivable as it was a borrowed car. The Night Owl gets me again!
The route then followed a white with a large drop down one side, mentioned in the briefing to take very slowly! We didn’t make it this far but some people said it was a long way down! A large loop then took the competing cars up to Tal-y-bont and across the A487 and close to Borth before heading to petrol back at Aberystwyth. Reian Jones and Michael Gilbey were leading at the half way point with Mark ‘GT’ Roberts & Dylan Jenkins, Ian ‘Dude’ Roberts & Gwawr Hughes and Steve Davies and Carl Williamson all within 50 seconds. Class 2 was being led by Matthew Price & Jason Thomas with a lead of almost 1 minute ahead of Elfyn Tandy & Thomas Lloyd in the white Nova. Polly & Chris Davies were in 3rd almost 7 minutes behind. The winners of Best Presented Car, Kevin Ephraim & Wenna Roberts were leading class 3 by over 3 minutes with the battle for 2nd, 3rd and 4th being very hot with Leighton Milner & Dean Wiltshire, Phil Haynes & David Neary and Alex Evans & Chris Ashley all just 11 seconds apart in the respective positions.
The event started again by heading down below Capel Bangor and through a farm, this is where current leaders Jones/Gilbey made a crucial plotting error to lose the top spot. The route then skipped along between the A4120 and Afon Rheidol before heading south through Llanfihangel Creuddy and down to Lledrod. A fast looking section took the crews back towards Aberystwyth before heading south again and onto map 146.
A few jumps from one map to the other could have possibly caught a few crews out before heading towards Llanrhystud and through the final spectator point. A short trip up the A487 and then slotting right to a final small section before the finish back in Aberystwyth.
The brilliant looking route took its toll on the crews with only 27 finishing, the sign of a cracking event!
GT/Jenkins took the win with Dude/Hughes just under a minute behind. Adrian Jones and Aled Richards can in 3rd in the Subaru Impreza. Class 2 was comfortably won by Tandy/Lloyd with a lead of 18m42s over Polly/Davies in second and Price/Thomas in third picking up a fail. Class 3 was taken by Milner/Wiltshire just over 6 minutes ahead of Alex Evans & Chris Ashley, Stuart George and Chris Morel rounding off the top 3 in the Proton Satria.
Thanks to all the marshals for standing out in the cold for us to enjoy ourselves! Thanks also to Daniel Richards for the drive. We will be back out on the Eagle in Daniels car so watch out!
Also thanks to all the organising crew at Aberystwyth & District MC. A cracking event keeping everyone on their toes! Thats 2 Night Owls and 2 DNF’s for me so I will definitely be back to break the run of bad luck!
Daniel Pidgeon, Nav – Car 47, Ford Escort Mk2
Thanks to James Hatfield Motorsport Photography (www.facebook.com/madashatters), Joseph John Gilbertson (www.facebook.com/joseph.j.gilbertson), Neil Constable (www.facebook.com/neil.constable.129), Phil Griffiths (www.facebook.com/philybigwilly) & Phillip Hatfield (www.facebook.com/phillip.hatfield.39) for all of the photos! Make sure you head to their pages to see more examples and also for details on how to purchase yourself a copy!