After a 6th overall & 2nd Semi Expert finish on the JJ Brown, I couldn’t wait to get back out there after a three week break with no rallies being held, It all came down to the Friday, the 29th to get the car done. So after adjusting the suspension ready for the known rough Rali Mike Darowen, a new set of brake pads and some tyres, the car and crew were ready for action.
I seemed a little nervous at first heading to the start venue at Ysgol Bro Ddyfi, Machynlleth. So after going through noise test at 80dba, we headed down the road to Huw Lewis Tyres, Machynlleth for scrutineering. After a check of the car and a signature off the scrutineer, it was off to the school where presentation and organization was tidy in all fairness to everyone involved at Dovey Valley Motor Club.
Signing On went without a hitch, noted down some amendments and back out to the car to plot a page of cautions and quiet zones.
Amendments done, Cautions plotted (most of which looked to be on just two whites) and maps tidied up, it was out to have a chat and see some familiar faces.
It was soon time for drivers briefing which was held inside the school, and having the all time quiet man Richard “Tyson” Morris presenting, it went well and everybody understood with no questions asked. There was a short 15 minute break before Car 1 received the route handout, and it was underway. Time came round to collect my route, after jotting a few more amendments it was back out to the car to plot a 125 mile, tricky & tight route.
With the rally being held on 4 maps, I was nervous about plotting and running out of time, after all we did have just 110 minutes (novices had 140) to plot 125 miles on 4 OS Landranger Maps. After a few questions asked inside my head, the map was ready and I had a good half an hour to spare, soon it was time to jump back in the car, get harnessed up and comfortable and head for MC1 within our time.
A little bit of water hanging around in the lanes meant it was going to be a interesting night. Down to Derwenlas for the start of a short, but challenging first selective around Glaspwll and along the Llytnant Valley. To TC2 which was just after caution “brows, very slippy river on right”, if you haven’t been along there before imagine a gorge with a river in the bottom with a twisting road with blind crests followed by various corners above 5-10ft up one side with, at points, no gap to the drop into the river. A quick blast down the road with a caution again being “Bedrock on Brow” just after the “impossible” Caerhedyn downhill hairpin right followed by a quick sprint down to TC3 which ended the first selective. Stefan ‘DR’ Davies & Michael Gilbey (Mk2 Escort) flew through this first section dropping 1:37 with Robert Pugh & Justin Davies (Ibiza) 8 seconds behind and Telor Pugh & Dave Thomas (Proton Compact) a further 10 seconds behind them. Quickest Semi’s were Polly & Chris Ashley (Rover 200) dropping a total of 3:03. Second Semi was Ieuan Owen Thomas & Declan Mason (Saxo) dropping 3:17 and Ricky Crone & Jamie Mills (Nova) in third with 3:40. In the Novice class Gareth Flynn & Gwion Huw Jones (Saxo) were quickest dropping 4:14, Deion Atkinson & Aron Jones (Civic) were second quickest dropping 5:14 and Steven Owen & Al Gwilliam (206 GTi) coming in third dropping 6:14.
A short trip back through the town of Derwenlas to Machynlleth, This time heading towards the village of Forge to TC4. It started with a short but fast approach to PCC, followed by a slot left which was then flat 600m to PCD. Down the road to PCE (NAM), a short but very tight drive down again to a GWR which pointed us in the direction of Aberhosan. Onto TC6 via two RC boards, a short uphill run to a slot right hairpin left which was cautioned for having oil on the road. A few NAM triangles around Ty Mawr and a few cautions in the space of 500m meant for a trouble filled night for a few crews. A few more cautions later and passage controls lead onto a white past a via, a ford and a spectator point, which then lead to TC7. Back on it now down to Commins Coch passing a few tricky corners and a via (NAM) and a few passage controls, it was around the outskirts of the village and to TC8. A quick drive down via Gwernbere to a slot 90R 90L and towards Abercegir to TC9 to end the section. Car 1 of Dale Furniss & Nick Bloxham (Golf GTi) had a bit of a altercation with one of the posts in the overly tight farms and managed to near enough rip the passenger door of, meaning they retired at the end of the section. Pugh/Thomas were quickest dropping 4:28 and moving them up to the lead position, Dude/Hughes were close behind dropping 4:31 and a flying section by the novice crew of Flynn/Jones gave them a third quickest time of 5:10! Pugh/Davies picked up a costly fail clocking into TC4 early, dropping them out of contention. Quickest Semi’s were Polly/Ashley dropping 12:02 with Dfan Ellis Jones & Helen Lewis (205) setting the second quickest time dropping 14:00. Third Semi’s were Thomas/Mason dropping 16:54. Second Novices were Atkinson/Jones dropping 14:43, a whole 9:33 behind the leaders in the class! Third Novices were Owen/Gwilliam dropping 20:15.
Back down the Cemmaes Road to TC10 to start the selective with a sprint down to a slot 90L into a farm yard to pick up a code board, to a give way left and out onto the road for a slot open hairpin left and up towards Coed Mawr passing two passage controls before arriving at TC11, with TC12 being just passed Llechwedd Gwyn, this section was just a short blast across the maps. Dude/Hughes and Geraint Davies & Sarah Gluyas (Mk2 Escort) both cleaned the section with Pugh/Jones dropping just 6 seconds. Jones/Lewis dropped 15 seconds giving them quickest Semi time with Thomas/Mason and Ricky Crone & Jamie Mills (Nova) dropping 35 and 39 seconds respectively. Rhys Roberts & Robert Mason (Satria GTi) were quickest novices dropping 50 seconds moving them up to second in class, with Ieuan Brooks & Gethin ‘Ginge’ Jones (Micra) just 1 second behind and Jamie Atherton & Mark Atherton (Saxo VTR) dropping 1:09.
Down through Aberangell and a short neutral section into Cemmaes to TC13 where Dylan Jones & Celt Lewis we’re marshalling. A short & tight uphill drive to a passage control, around a 3M NAM further up to pick an RC and it was down to PCV, and then onto another RC which led to TC14 on the outskirts of Llanbrynmair. Alun Horn & Aled Jones (Impreza) were the only crew to clean the section with Rhys Lewis & Daniel Pidgeon (Clio) dropping 3 seconds. The Semi-Expert crew of Kev Price & Paul Davies (Micra) were third quickest dropping just 18 seconds, second in class going to Thomas/Mason dropping 1:49 followed by Polly/Ashley dropping 2:17. Quickest Novices were Atkinson/Jones dropping 2:40, Dylan Llewelyn & Iwan Evans (Puma) were a further 38 seconds and Brooks/Ginge another second behind them dropping 3:19.
Through Llanbrynmair and to Talerddig for TC15, a tricky “Follow Arrows” was to follow, leading to two passage controls before coming to TC16. A run through Panylau Gwynion forestry via a RC, followed by another RC after the forestry and a Ford through Clegyrnant to TC17, past a passage control manned by my sister and down to a give way right to TC18. Short and technical run down to the outskirts of Mallwyd for the last TC before petrol. Price/Davies had another blistering section as well as Horn/Jones being the only crews to drop no time at all. Dude/Hughes and George Williams & Richard Crozier (Mk2) were next quickest dropping 29 seconds each. Next quickest class 2 was Thomas/Mason dropping 2:59 with Polly/Ashley third quickest dropping 4:47. Quickest Novices were Brooks/Ginge dropping 3:01, second was Atherton/Atherton dropping 5:01 and third quickest going to Atkinson/Jones another 2 seconds behind them.
Positions at Petrol were as follows;
1st – Ian ‘Dude’ Roberts & Gwawr Hughes, Volkswagen Golf GTi – 0:08.03
2nd – Stefan ‘DR’ Davies & Michael Gilbey, Ford Escort – 0:09.06
3rd – Carwyn Pughe & Llion ‘Tractor’ Williams, Vauxhall Astra – 0:11.07
4th – Justin Jones & Dafydd Evans, Ford Escort – 0:11.15
5th – George Williams & Richard Crozier, Ford Escort – 0:13.03
6th – Steve ‘Bach’ Roberts & Daniel Jones, Peugeot 106 GTi – 0:14.06
7th – Telor Pugh & Dave Thomas, Proton Compact – 0:15.53
8th – Steven Thomas & Gareth Thomas, Peugeot 205 – 0:16.21
9th – Rhys Lewis & Daniel Pidgeon, Renault Clio – 0:18.00
10th – Jamie Jones & Jonathan Kennedy, Subaru Impreza – 0:18.12
1st Semi-Expert – ‘Polly’ & Chris Ashley, Rover 200 Vi – 0:23.15
2nd Semi-Experts – Ieuan Owen Thomas & Declan Mason, Citroen Saxo – 0:25.34
3rd Semi-Experts – Kev Price & Paul Davies, Nissan Micra – 0:28.06
1st Novices – Deion Atkinson & Aron Jones, Honda Civic – 0:29.36
2nd Novices – Jamie Atherton & Mark Atherton, Citroen Saxo VTR – 0:39.53
3rd Novices – Rhys Roberts & Robert Mason, Proton Satria GTi – 0:40.13
A short and cheerful petrol halt in Merco, Mallwyd for MC2 and MC3 then it was a straight over the roundabout & towards Aberangell for the second time, but this time up towards Dyfi Forest to TC20. An RC check, and two quiet zones later and it was again, into a TC, This time TC22. Three passage controls and a RC later was TC23 manned by Jason Gizzie at the bottom of Hafod Oer to finish the section. Thomas/Mason and Atkinson/Jones both cleaned the section, a great run for a Semi and Novice crew! Third quickest were Williams/Crozier dropping 26 seconds with Llewelyn/Evans setting the second quickest Novice time dropping 1:16 and Polly/Ashley with the second quickest Semi time another second behind. Third Semi’s were Price/Davies dropping 1:32 and third Novices were Atherton/Atherton dropping 1:47.
A small neutral section along the A487 to Cross Foxes and it was onto home ground for us. TC24 was off the A470 at Tabor. To a give way follow arrows. Unfortunately the junction was missing an arrow but tuning left revealed a arrow into Tir Stent. A few people had problems here with the tape stopping people going the wrong way and missing the slot onto the footpath in the forest being broken early on, sending several of the expert crews who weren’t local around the forest in circles, some dropping up to 16 minutes. For a lot of the novices someone removed the first arrow and shut the gate into the forest, causing even more problems, again dropping up to 15 minutes. Down a rough footpath through Tyddyn Ednyfed picking up three RC boards (Even though there was only space for two! Secret Check maybe? But no SC boxes on the time card… Quite confused!!) and it was off down towards Rhydwen via a missing passage control. A quick sprint up towards the Gwernan Hotel picking yet another RC, which lead to TC25. A short and fast sprint to a slot down towards Cefn-yr-Owen and two passage controls later we were at TC26 for the end of the section. Quickest through this tough section were Dude/Hughes dropping 3:18, second quickest were DR/Gilbey dropping 3:39 and third quickest were Pugh/Thomas dropping 4:46. Quickest Semi-Experts were Thomas/Mason dropping 5:14 moving them up to first in class with Polly/Ashley in second dropping 6:20 and Price/Davies in third dropping 10:08. Quickest Novices were Brooks/Ginge dropping a very respectable 5:49, a full 5:37 in front of anyone else in the class. 11:26 was dropped by Roberts/Mason and 13:38 being dropped by Atkinson/Jones. Lewis/Pidgeon were the biggest hitters in this section dropping 18:36, Atherton/Atherton also took a big hit (18:01) dropping them down to third in class as well as Llewelyn/Evans dropping over 1000 seconds (17:41)
It was along the A493 to the A470 to lead to Ganllwyd, where Dafydd & Deio Hughes we’re marshalling for a second time (diolch chi hogia!), to TC27. It was over the big humps and yumps to a passage control which then lead to TC28 (manned by Lowri Davies who was also out in the cold for her second appearance on a control, and being pregnant is just commitment chware teg! diolch :)) after a RC board followed by a Passage Control. Two code boards to follow down towards “Clock Lodge” followed by a slot left, and it was to TC29. A very short sprint down the road which lead to a slot hairpin right spectated by a crew of local lads. Three passage controls to follow along with a quick “It’s tight down this way now boys” from a very polite marshal at PCRR (thanks if you’re reading!) and down past Y Fanner to a give way left and out to TC30. Can you guess who was quickest?! Yep… Dude/Hughes dropped 14 seconds, DR/Gilbey were close behind dropping 15 seconds and Williams/Crozier were third quickest dropping 26 seconds. Quickest Semi’s were Thomas/Mason again dropping 1:05 with Polly/Ashley keeping their second in class dropping 1:48 and Price/Davies concreting their third in class dropping 3:59. The Novice class was lead by Atkinson/Jones dropping just 57 seconds with Owen/Gwilliam back in the swing of things dropping 1:33. Roberts/Mason rounded off the top three just 2 seconds behind dropping 1:35.
It was back along the A470 to then take the A494 towards Y Bala to then meet Edryd Evans at TC31 going back up towards the famous “Maze”. Via 3 codeboards, a tonne of cautions in the same block down Buchesydd white which lead to a tight hairpin right manned by Gwyn Jones & Myfyr Ephraim, followed by two 3M NAM , another passage control and down to TC32. Gareth Parry & Bleddyn Richards (205) had an absolute blinder of a section dropping just 5 seconds, great pace from the Novice crew! Dude/Hughes were second quickest dropping 1:12 with DR/Gilbey dropping 1:37. The Semi class was the same as usually with Thomas/Mason, Polly/Ashley and Price/Davies dropping 2:45, 3:39 and 10:22 respectively. A great show from the Novice class with Brooks/Ginge setting the second quickest time dropping 2:33 and Atkinson/Jones dropping 3:27.
A short neutral to Drws Y Nant where Dylan Jones & Celt Lewis we’re again marshalling, and unfortunate to see that Rob Pugh & Justin Davies had snapped a driveshaft, maybe leaving the control flat out over a cattle grid wasn’t the best plan. After a quick chat and laugh at TC33, it was off back down towards Bryncoedifor, followed by 3 NAM triangle passage controls. A give way left up towards Pont Rhyd Y Gwair, it was to PCAAA manned by Martin Jones, and a short sprint down to TC34 on a 3M NAM Triangle manned by Wyn Rowlands and Co. DR/Gilbey were quickest through dropping 44 seconds with Dude/Hughes and Williams/Crozier both just 2 seconds behind. Polly/Ashley took the top spot in the Semi class this time dropping 2:04 with Thomas/Mason dropping 2:20 and Price/Davies dropping 2:30 but clocking in 3 minutes early at TC33. It was very close in the Novice class with Roberts/Mason dropping 1:40, Atkinson/Jones were 2 seconds behind them and Brooks/Ginge another 3 seconds behind them.
It was a long neutral over the “Bwlch” as the locals would know it, (also where I fell asleep!) to slot down towards Dolobran where we were met by TC35 manned by a very humorous man who seemed very happy to be out at 5am fair play! Picking up RC20 in a farm yard with two MASSIVE steps, it was out towards Brynllys we went. Followed by a PCBBB which had changed to RCBBB and down again towards Aber Cywarch to a slot GW HPR with a short sprint up to TC36, manned for the second appearance by Emyr Jones. Alun Horn and Annie Rebecca Green (Impreza) had teamed up to petrol after Alun’s navigator was feeling a little worse for wear and Annie’s driver had split a brake pipe and was unable to carry on, they set the quickest time through the final section dropping just 1 minute. Pugh/Thomas were second quickest dropping 1:25 moving them up to 5th at the last moment. Third was Williams/Crozier dropping 1:38. The Semi class was looking the same as usual, Thomas/Mason dropping 2:34, Polly/Ashley dropping 3:08 and Price/Davies picking up 5 fails and dropping 3:54. Llewelyn/Evans picked up a good time dropping 1:50, Brooks/Gine were second quickest Novices dropping 2:25, finally Owen/Gwilliam dropped 3:16 to round off the top 3.
And it was just up the road to Y Llew Goch, Dinas Mawddwy for the finish venue and MC4, which I’m sure for a lot of crew’s was a relief to see. Would like to thank all the staff at Y Llew Goch for a fantastic service, a finish venue and a spot on breakfast after a hard nights rallying!
I would also like to thank every single member of the organizing team throughout Dovey Valley Motor Club and I hope you all enjoyed the night as much as I did, thank you!
Would also like to take the time out to thank everyone along the route, every single marshal, DSO etc along the route for standing out in the cold (and the rain for the ones doing the late controls!) for putting in that much commitment to go out and do it in the rubbish welsh weather.
Same Again next year hopefully, everything ran fantastically and Rali Mike Darowen Bro Ddyfi was very well organized in all fairness.
Declan Mason, Navigator / Car 39, Citroen Saxo
The final results can be found here.
Thanks to AJB Photography (www.facebook.com/AlexBirdPhotography), Ewan Black (www.facebook.com/ewan.black.927), Joseph John Gilbertson (www.facebook.com/joseph.j.gilbertson), Michael Jones (www.facebook.com/michael.jones.98871174), Power Shot Photography (www.facebook.com/powershotphotography1) & Rhiannon Black (www.facebook.com/rhiannon.black120) for all of the photos. Make sure you check out their pages for more examples and for detail on how to purchase yourself a copy!