After the excitement of the ceremonial start on Thursday night it was down to business today with four stages and 59 stage miles, the longest day of the rally. Leaving the Deeside service park at 9am, the crew made the 83 miles trek to the first stage. Myherin. At almost 20 miles long there was no breaking the crews in gently.
Fortunately, the stage went well. “The car is fantastic on the loose and felt good. We had a few moments and could have been quicker but I’m out of practise and was driving like a $%%”.
With the first stage completed and nerves settled the crew headed off to Sweet Lamb. The short spectator stage is popular with fans as they can follow the cars through almost the entire stage. While pushing on the car had a hard landing and immediately there was a problem. The car suddenly lost power to the front wheels. The car was still drivable but now a real handful through the rest of the stage with only rear wheel drive. At least it made the stage memorable, especially for the finish control crew who all took a step back as the car came through the control sideways. Skills! Checking the car on the following road section revealed a broken front diff and driveshaft. With Sweet Lamb being the furthest stage from Deeside and with two more stages to go, there was little choice but to try and carry on. The next stage was Hafren. The longest of the event at 21 miles. Annoyingly, this had to be driven non-competitively. Time would be lost but they’d still be in the event. After Hafren was the petrol halt before the final stage, Dyfnant. With the car increasingly difficult to drive, the decision was made to head back to service to avoid further damage. Unfortunately the car soon ground to a halt completely so the service van stepped in to tow Gavin and Mark the 60 miles back to Deeside.
On most rallies, that would spell the end of the event but as a World Championship round, Super rally rules apply, so with the car fully repaired and back to health, they’ll hit the stages again tomorrow under Rally 2 rules. Gavin is philosophical about the day “In some ways it’s been a disappointing day but these things happen in rallying. At least we are still here to enjoy the rest of the event”.
Tomorrow sees the cars head off for another 35 miles of classic stages within the Snowdonia National Park. Famous names such as Gartheiniog, Pantperthog, Dyfi, and Aberhinant. There’s also the short blast around the spectator stage at Cholmondley Castle. The fightback begins tomorrow!!