The weekend of the 18th and 19th of February was to be the highlight of the year for many members of Lampeter and District Motor Club, as it was the time of year where the club hosted its own road rally on the calendar, the Bro Caron. The event would make up the second round of the Welsh Road Rally Championship and also a round of the club’s own road rally championship.
For this year, it was Marc Hughes taking charge as clerk of the course, having been a member of the organising team with previous Bro Caron clerk of the course Edryd Evans, who helped run two very successful rallies in the previous years. Together with his team of enthusiastic members, a route of some 105 miles, most of which being on smooth tarmac, was to greet the crews fortunate enough to get a run on what was a very popular event.
Entries for the rally filled very quickly, with the majority of places being taken up only a couple of days after the regulations had become available, and once again attracted a strong entry where there would be stiff competition amongst some of the biggest names within the road rallying community. All in all, over a hundred entries were received for the event, and with only permission to run ninety cars there was unfortunately a large reserve list who had crews crossing their fingers in the hope that a position would become available.
Seeded first on the entry list was club member Justin Jones, who partnered up with 2016 winning Navigator Aled Richards, originally it was to be John ‘Tyres’ Davies driving the first car off, but unfortunately, he had to pull out, so Justin stepped in and in fact used Johns Astra, having recently sold his famous DMH Escort. Car 2 was another club member and 2015 winning driver, Steffan ‘DR’ Davies, who for this rally was to be accompanied by Mike Darowen winning navigator, Michael Gilbey, they would once again be out in Steffan’s stunningly prepared Mk2 Ford Escort. Behind them at 3 was Mike Darowen winning driver, Kevin Davies, who originally had Nigel Nelsson navigating, but swapped to Dale Bowen for the night, with Kevin’s recent form on the Mike Darowen and Cilwendeg rallies (winning both) surely, they must have been contenders for outright victory. They would be out in Kevin’s regular Mk2 Ford Escort. Car 4 saw the return of Daniel ‘Lwni’ Jones to the lanes, who with Gerwyn Barry would also be out in a Mk2 Ford Escort, despite not having competed on a road rally for some time must surely have been one of the contenders for a very strong result. Behind them would in five would be Mark ‘GT’ Roberts and Dylan Jenkins, a great sight to see them out once again having not been able to compete much recently, and with Mark being a former winner of the Welsh Road Rally Championship in 2007 the crew had the experience and pace to do well. Behind them in 6 were another Escort crew being Kevin Kerr and Huw Rhys Manion, Kevin once again returning to the lanes of West Wales. Thomas “Carpets” Lewis and Dafydd Sion Lloyd were behind them at 7, in yet another Mk2 Ford Escort. Making a trio of Escorts together was car 8, Will Arrowsmith, who had Ceri Davies navigating for him. Finishing off the top 10, were Steve Knibbs and Dai Garth occupying car 9, the first of the Proton Satria’s that had entered, and car 10 was club member and previous year’s clerk of the course Edryd Evans, who had Carl Williamson navigating for him, they would be out in Edryd’s Honda Civic Type R. The rest of the Masters class (which had 16 cars entered) saw plenty of other interesting entries with crews that could easily place themselves well in the top five including club members Jordan Summers and Dafydd Evans at 14 in their Ford Puma.
Down one class to the Expert’s saw plenty of very experienced and talented crews, with 16 going to Wyn Owens and Jenni Evans, who were originally going to be out out in their familiar yellow Mk2 Ford Escort, but used a Nissan Micra on the night. 2 Escorts followed with the first belonging to George Williams, who partnered with Richard “Tyson” Morris for this rally, and the second, in at 18 were Mark Lennox, accompanied by Ian Beamond. Car 19, club member Cadog Davies, partnered once again with regular Reian Jones, Cadog aiming to simply make it to the finish control having recently retired on the Mike Darowen after having set some incredible times on that event. Behind him was another club member, and another Proton Driver, Anthony Lichfield, who had Daniel Jones navigating for him. Behind them were Steve King and Jordan Dziadulewiz navigating for him. Steve being a competitor of road rallies in the motoring news era, and in fact winning the Audi Sport Trophy Rally in the championships final year, a rally which used some of the lanes in the area, showing that they were a crew not to be ruled out. Other crews in the expert class included club members Wayne ‘Tar’ Jones and Rhys Jones at 23 in a Peugeot 206 GTi. 25 went to Paul Jones and Andrew Gaunt in another Peugeot 206 GTi, James Davies with club member George Eadon took 28, in James’ new Proton Satira. Behind them at 29 were Michael ‘Mitch’ Jones and John Gilbey in a Mk2 Ford Escort. Last off in expert class went to Jonathon Davies and Elgan Davies, who would be using a borrowed Renault Clio.
Down in the Semi-Expert class were Tim Evans Helen Lewis, who were first off in the semi expert class seeded at 41. Tim had won the semi expert class on the previous two Bro Caron’s and was hoping to make it a hat-trick, Tim originally entered in a ford sierra but used his Proton Satria. Other club members in the semi expert class were Rhodri Lewis and Rhodri Williams in a Citroen Saxo at 46. One behind them at 47 were Lee Plant and Craig Davies in another Proton Satria. Daffyd Morgan was at 54, partnered by Rhys Griffiths, out in a Peugeot 306 GTi-6. Rounding off the semi expert class were Sean Williams and Alan Roberts in another Peugeot, this time a 205 model.
The Novice class attracted a very strong entry of twenty-five cars, a good sign that welsh road rallying was still in good health with many newcomers wishing to experience the lanes of West Wales. Club members Dion Phillips driving his Ford Fiesta ST was second off in the class at 66, he had Ross Truszkowski navigating for him. 67 Was to go to Huw and Owen Rowcliffe, they were out in a Vauxhall Corsa. 74 went to Simon and Daryl Bailey, who were out in a Peugeot 205 GTi. James Johnson Davies had club member Nathan Summers navigating for him in a Peugeot 206 at 75. Car 77 was Thomos Williams and Nathan Gibbord who must have had one of the most interesting cars in the whole 89 car field, a Ford Anglia 100e! The 2000cc engine listed on the entry list suggesting that it may go a little better than what Ford had originally intended. Griffin Tweedle was the last of club members in car 85, a Renault Clio, he had Troy Smith navigating form him.
89 cars all lined up in the Rookery start car park waiting to take on the route that had been set up for them. Signing on and scrutineering both opening at 17:00, the town was a flurry of activity with crowds of spectators gathering in the start car park and in the town’s Leisure Centre, giving a great atmosphere as competitors and spectators discussed and debated the up and coming challenge, would the weather stay dry? Would ice be a problem? How many not as map sections were there? All these and more were hot topics of conversation, and the aroma of burgers filled the air from the nearby burger van which had a queue all night supplying fine food for those who never like to compete on an empty stomach. Spectator information was available at signing on, listing some half a dozen points where people could go and enjoy the rally safely, and once again proved popular and sold well as people planned viewing points for the night’s activity.
The first route hand out was given at 22:20 after a driver’s briefing given out by the event secretary Dorian Evans, which gave crews ample time to plot all of the 29 Time controls and 65 passage controls and route checks, plus all the cautions and give ways that made up the route, all of which was on OS map 146. It was a tight and technical route, which stayed local to the area, and involved some very well-known sections such as Ffarmers and Silian, giving and enjoyable challenge for all those out.
With the route all plotted the cars left the start car park and headed down to Pumpsaint to tackle the first competitive sections of the rally. The first section was to leave Pumpsaint and head into the village of Ffarmers before the first tight section of the night coming out of Ffarmers and turning right just after Esgair Crws. Through the first of two fords in this section, the route then turned right over the well-known tarmac white which contained the second ford and a couple of not as map bends, before approaching a give way next to the grit bin which has seen plenty of close up action in previous rallies. After which they would arrive at Time control 3. Kevin Davies recorded the best time over this section, receiving thirty-four seconds in penalties, second went to Daniel ‘Lwni’ Jones getting thirty-eight. The route then went through the back of Cellan village before heading through a tight section at Oxon Hall, finishing just outside of Llanfair Clydogau. It was Daniel ‘Lwni’ that achieved the best time on this one, with two seconds of penalties, Kevin Davies picking up one second more. There followed a brief neutral section over to Llangybi where the next tight section followed, leaving the village and heading up to Llangybi common, where Time control 8 was located. Kevin Davies managed to go through this section without picking up any penalties, so established a small lead in the rally, but the competition was fierce and it was still very early on in the event.
The next tight section of the rally came into Silian and included the infamous ‘Silian Harpin’, which was the location of the first spectator point. It is a tricky corner to get right and whilst the road competitors approach on is quite open and wide, the road in which they turn into is very tight, with a very tall hedge close to the road, and a step up in the middle, making it a corner where cutting is never a good idea! Needless to say, it made for a very popular location for spectators hoping to get a good glimpse of the action.
A few crews went clean on this section, not picking up any penalties on the section finish (SF10). Although some crews also picked up fails for missing Passage Control 24 just before the hairpin. Outside of the master’s class there were many crews who began their rally with some excellent times, James Davies and George Eadon running at 28 only picking up thirty-six seconds in at SF6 (Llanfair Clydogau) and fifteen seconds at Llangybi Common. Tim Evans in semi expert class doing well in the semi expert class battle, with hot competition from Gethin Davies and Lee Plant to name a few. Down in the novice class Steven Summers and Sean Jones set some very respectful times in their Mazda MX5, with only 1 minute and forty-three seconds on the tricky section coming into TC3, a great time for novice crews. Unfortunately, it was the end of the rally for some even at this stage, as Cadog Davies and Reian Jones damaged the Proton on a not as map bend, forcing retirement on a crew that could have achieved great things on this event.
From Silian there was a brief neutral section over to Creiddyn Bridge, here crews turned off the main road and began a short section of some two and a half miles that took competitors over to Felindre that didn’t give anyone any trouble. Then came another short neutral section through Tal-sarn. The section began on the B4342 and turned left up the minor road, which was the next spectator point. From here crews then went through the famous Trefilan ford where a number of spectators had again gathered on the bridge that also crosses the river to catch the cars tackling the ford before heading out to the give way on the B4337. Just after joining this road crews took a left turn which saw them finish the section (SF14) after passing Gwrthwynt-uchaf. This was another tight section which saw everyone pick up penalties. Justin Jones and Aled Richards receiving thirty-nine seconds, Steffan ‘DR’ Davies and Michael Gilbey getting twenty-one seconds, Kevin Davies and Dale Bowen managed thirteen, Daniel ‘Lwni’ and Gerwyn Barry had eighteen and Mark ‘GT’ Roberts and Dylan Jenkins receiving thirty-one seconds.
Another brief neutral section passing through Cilcennin and crossing the A482 followed, before a short but tight section began, which was SS15. This saw crews head up a small yellow road that runs parallel to Ciliau Aeron, where there is a give way at the church, from there the route joined the B4339 towards Dihewyd. Here crews turned right into a white road that includes a public footpath, which was the location of the third spectator point, with the wide road that is used in the approach giving excellent safe viewing for all that gathered there. The section finished as crews once again joined the B4339 heading back towards Ciliau Aeron, where the finish control (SF16) was located. Here again was a tight section, where it was the Escort’s of Steffan ‘DR’, Kevin Davies and Daniel ‘Lwni’ did best, all picking up thirty seconds in Penalties. Also doing very well here were Gethin Davies and Gerwyn James who had received thirty-two seconds, a great time for the Vauxhall Nova crew who showed real commitment on the lanes.
Here is where the first half competition ended, and crews headed over to Aberaeron for refuelling and Llanerchaeron for the regathering, at petrol halt the standings were:
1st. Kevin Davies/Dale Bowen 1 minute 20 seconds
2nd. Daniel ‘Lwni’ Jones/Gerwyn Barry 1 minute 38 seconds
3rd. Steffan ‘DR’ Davies/Michael Gilbey 1 minute 45 seconds
4th. Thomas ‘Carpets’ Lewis/Dafydd-Sion Lloyd 2 minutes 23 seconds
5th. Mark ‘GT’ Roberts/Dylan Jenkins 2 minutes 58 seconds
Leading the expert class and holding an excellent seventh overall at this stage were James Davies and George Eadon in the Proton Compact who had 3 minutes 31 seconds. The Semi Expert class lead was being held by Gethin Davies and Gerwyn James, they were in fourteenth overall and had 4 minutes and 45 seconds in penalties. The novice class lead by Steve Summers and Sean Jones, who were in thirty fifth overall and on 8 minutes and 42 seconds.
With the first half done and a whole half to go it was still early days in the rally and with competition being so close, no position had yet to be decided.
The second half of the rally began with a long section that started just by Neuadd Lwyd and would go on past Oakford, down into Llanarth, over Pencae before heading over to Mydriolyn and then to finish just after going over Moyddin white. This section contained four tight sections, the first being near Neuadd Lwyd and included a very twisty section of road near Crug-y-feilog, a section where accurate map reading would pay off well. Time Control 18 was the control to follow this section, which was actually cleaned (no penalties gained) by Kevin Davies, Daniel ‘Lwni’ and Mark ‘GT’, who began their second halves as they ended the first, by setting great times!
A slightly more relaxed section followed before yet another tight section that was at Time Control 20, which was after competitors had been through Blaenwern Farm. Here was one of the trickiest sections of the night where the penalty count was fairly high for all. Achieving the best result here was once again Kevin Daives, who used this section to extend his lead, being the only competitor to accumulate under a minute of penalties at this control, with navigator Dale Bowen they achieved an excellent fifty seconds in penalties.
The route then headed over to Mydroilyn where another spectator point was located, just off of Bardsey View caravan park, here competitors came form the south west towards the B4342 before turning down right, giving an excellent viewpoint for those who stayed out into the early hours of the morning. Crews then tackled the last tight section of this second half opener, which included the use of Moyddin white, a long white of some one and a half miles. The section finished just after crews came out of this white and turned off towards Gorsgoch where another spectator point was located. Here at this section finish it was Daniel ‘Lwni’ that did best, picking up twelve seconds in penalties, hot on his heels though was Thomas ‘Carpets’, who had nineteen seconds.
A time recovery section followed, as crews passed through Gorsgoch and Llanyrbyther where the next competitive section began, a mile or so outside of the village. Here competitors headed over the top of Mynydd Pencarreg before another tight section at Esgair-dawe. Here there would be two grass triangles competitors would have to negotiate before turning an uphill hairpin left where the final spectator point of the night was, which must have included only the hardiest of spectators who were willing to stay away from their warm beds at around half past three in the morning! On this section, it was semi experts Lee Plant and Craig Davies who did best here, with only four seconds of penalties gained. Kevin Davies and Dale Bowen achieved another great time getting only ten seconds here. James
Davies and George Eadon continued to set excellent times and managed seventeen seconds here. It was here that Daniel ‘Lwni’ Jones’ rally came to an end, as they had problems which saw them cut some of the route out and jump to the finish, putting them in the fails, as they had visited more than two thirds of controls, they were classified as finishers, albeit down in fifty eighth overall with fifteen fails. A great shame as they had been doing excellent up until then and had set great times, especially considering Daniel had not competed on a road rally for some time, making his times even more impressive and showing that they are a very talented crew.
It was then up to Parc-y-rhos for the final section of the night, a tight and technical section to round of the night’s sport. Kevin Davies once again setting the best time of the section, with thirty-two seconds in penalties, this being enough to give him his second win of the event, and his navigator Dale Bowen his first!
After some 105 miles of some of the finest lanes West Wales has on offer the remaining competitors made their way over to Lampeter rugby club for the finish and for a well earnt breakfast for the crews who by now worked up quite an appetite after a hard nights’ sport.
With all the crews handing in their time cards at the finish, fifty-nine crews classified as finishers, and the results crews began their work as everyone exchanged stories and tales of how their night had gone, and the results were soon made available which read as:
1st overall. Kevin Davies/Dale Bowen 4 minutes 38
2nd. Mark ‘GT’ Roberts/Dylan Jenkins 6 minutes 24
3rd. Thomas ‘Carpets’ Lewis/Dafydd-Sion Lloyd 6 minutes 36
4th. Steffan ‘DR’ Davies/Michael Gilbey 6 minutes 46
5th. Kevin Kerr/Huw Rhys Manion 8 minuets 16
Expert class was won by James Davies and George Eadon, having set some great times all night they managed to finish in an excellent sixth overall with a time of 9 minutes and 3 seconds. Semi expert class was won by James Evans and Ian Taylor in a hired Subaru Impreza, they managed a very respectful fifteenth overall with 11 minutes and 55 seconds. Novice class was won by Richard Phillips and Martin Morris in their Peugeot 205, finishing in an excellent thirty-fourth overall with 22 minutes and 53 seconds.
Everyone seemed to agree that it had been an excellent rally and there was plenty of praise given to the organisers and marshals who had worked incredibly hard to put on an excellent rally. Daniel Parsons who with his driver Thomas Hadley were both out as first time competitors, and offered a few words on how their first rally went
“It was our first rally, the first hour or so was very slippery, difficult to find grip. We had a little bodywork repair to do at MC2 (regroup), Coming into the second half we began to find our rhythm, but a couple of farms threw us off a little but we kept on the correct route and got our pace back, the whites were challenging after having many cars passing previously. Running as car 88 we called our car number out as two fat ladies at the controls which entertained all the marshals! Time control marshals were very helpful to us novices all night when we weren’t sure. Something we will work on. Had a moment on an uphill left but thankfully spectators helped us out. Overall it was a fantastic night, thank you to the organisers, and the breakfast was good too!”
The organisers would like to thank the Lampeter Leisure Centre and Rugby Club for the start and finish venues, Gwili Jones and Sons for the use for their premises, Huw Lewis Tyres for their premises for scrutineering, Aeron Coast petrol station in Aberaeron for the fuel halt, rallyroots for their excellent results service, all of the residents of the properties that the rally passed by for their cooperation, all of the marshals and volunteers who gave up their time to help out, apologies are given to anyone who we may of missed out unintentionally. We hope you will join us for the event in 2018.
Thanks to A&A Photography (www.facebook.com/pages/A-A-Photography), Joseph John Gilbertson (http://www.facebook.com/joseph.j.gilbertson), Power Shot Photography (http://www.facebook.com/powershotphotography), Rhys Edwards Photography (https://www.facebook.com/RhysEdwardsPhotography) & Ticpix Photography (www.facebook.com/Ticpix-Photography) for all of the photos. Make sure you check out their pages for more examples and for details on how to purchase yourself a copy!