This week see’s the world’s best rally crews gather in North Wales for the Dayinsure Wales Rally GB. The event is the penultimate round of the World Rally Championship and provides three days of flat out driving over some of the most challenging gravel stages in the world. While the superstars will drive state of the art rally cars supported by a small army of support staff, from engineers to the all-important masseuse, the rally also has a national event that anyone can enter. The event is one of the biggest challenges in rallying. When combined with the opportunity to compete alongside the world’s best, driving on the very same stages, it becomes a must do event, even if you only do it once.
One crew who couldn’t resist the challenge are the South Wales crew of Gavin Marsh and Mark Thomas. Gavin is the driver, with Mark on the maps. They have competed together for a number of years, focusing mainly on Welsh tarmac events with the odd trip into the woods. This is their second attempt at Wales Rally GB. 2015’s rally ended in retirement on the final day due to electrical problems.
Gavin: “We had such a great run last year and were unlucky not to finish. At least it gave us an excuse to come back this year!” As a sign of their intent, last year’s Nissan Micra has been replaced by something a lot more entertaining. A Group N Subaru Impreza STi. Unfortunately, the build up to this event could’ve been better as Gavin explains “I’ve only managed two tarmac events prior to this weekend… so stage one will be our first time in this car on the loose!!!…. not ideal.”
One of those tarmac events was the mini Epynt stages in Mid Wales. While it may not be far from the North Wales forests, driving the fast tarmac of Epynt is a world apart from the mud and gravel of Wales Rally GB.
For Gavin, rallying runs in the family with son Corey having competed in the junior 1000 rally championship for 14-17 year olds. With so many rally cars to look after, Gavin’s day job as a mechanic comes in handy.
Gavin: “It’s taken a lot of hard work to get here with weeks of preparation leading up to today. I’d like to say a big thank you to my sponsors: MAPS Performance Exhausts, AdvaSign, Geraint Griffiths Memorials, and Taylors Fish & Chips. Also, the help of my service crew of Scott Jones, Jayson Windos, Jay fussell, and Robert Impey. We wouldn’t be here without them.