2014 sees the Vale of Clwyd Classic once again under the stewardship of Guy Woodcock, the fourth running of the event, it is now a regular fixture in the historic calendar and has seen the anticipation for the event grow as quickly as the entry list.
The lanes and roads in The Vale of Clwyd lend themselves to motor sport, generally quiet with good sight lines even in wooded areas; they undulate and hug the contours of this area of outstanding natural beauty.
The format this year is similar to the previous three events, with the start and finish being held at Clerk of Course Guy Woodcock’s local pub; The Druid Inn at Llanferres. This quaint watering hole has an excellent reputation for food and the beer it serves, as well as transforming itself yearly now into the VoCC headquarters. For those who don’t know Guy, his life revolves around motor sport, as well as organising this event for his local motor club with Phill Harrison; he is also the brains on some of the larger historic regularity events in the UK calendar. Cap this with some enthusiastic forays with his Mk2 Escort on stage events and the odd run in an ex works Escort Maxi kit car and you begin to see the picture.
The Vale of Clwyd Classic has forged its reputation on being a challenging event; local knowledge and a vast background in road and historic events in the whole of the organising team always find a way to achieve a result, it calls for precise navigation and to follow the route to the yard as it describes, without MENSA style questions or calculations. The tests are designed to let both the cars and the drivers shine, with a mix that has both tight and twisty alongside the more flowing, a mixture of farmyards, forest and private land as rule, with an odd twist thrown in from time to time to keep things interesting!
This year sees over seventy cars take to the start, the top ten has a superb feel to it, looking like a who’s who of modern historic regularity rallying and with several in contention for this year’s Historic Rally Car Register Clubman’s championship. Two navigators who are in with a shout are Andy Pullan and Bob Hargreaves; unsurprisingly their views are totally different with Pullan the more upbeat. “I’m really looking forward to the challenge; I had a run last year with my Dad in the Hillman Imp and know just what the organising team can deliver. It is without doubt one of the harder events in the calendar and could easily be the one that changes everything.” Hargreaves has experience on his side and was more cautious about the event, Bob said, “This event is one of the trickier ones, it takes precise navigation to get the win, anyone who has won this event has done well, I am a little nervous, but that is healthy, it’ll keep me fully focused on the task at hand.”
The driver’s championship is wide open also, Lancashire’s Steve Entwistle is currently leading in his ‘Orange Box’ Mini, a recent engine upgrade from his sponsors at Mini Sport has reaped dividends for the Blackburn Bullet. Tied for second are John Ruddock and James Griffiths, the Vale of Clwyd could once again be the turning point in this year’s championship should either have a bad day at the office. One man who will be desperate to go one place better than he has done on the last three events will be Chester based Howard Warren, Mr Consistency has been placed second on every running of the VoCC and his ultra-competitive nature will be in evidence as always, partnered by Iain Tullie, will 2014 see the Porsche 911 pair take top honours? Warren has an outside chance of the HRCR Drivers crown also with the bonus points available to a category one car. Of the local crews, Pete Welch and Richard Bestwick are probably the ones to watch, having done well in last year’s event taking 6th, a tussle will be on the cards with Ian Crammond and Andy Gibson, the last three years have seen many a battle ensue between the Dolomite of Welch and Mercedes of Crammond, can Welch make it 2-2 or will Crammond go well?
Details on the 2014 Vale of Clwyd Classic are online at: http://www.cvmc.org.uk/ClwydClassic2014.html
Gareth Williams, Clwyd Vale MC Member