The final day of Wales Rally GB began for the MAPS team with a late morning start, giving the team plenty of time to complete the final checks on the car.
After two full days of flat out rallying on some of the most difficult stages anywhere in the world, Gavin and Mark (Tosh) where determined to maintain focus for these last three stages. The weather was the best it had been all event. Dry and mild with no fog. Only 16 stage miles to survive but there’s no such thing as easy stages on Rally GB. First up was Clocaenog. Only 5 miles but one of the most slippery stages of the event with a smooth, shiny surface punctuated by muddy sections. Again, car and crew performed well, maintaining a quick but safe pace and climbing up one place overall. One down, two to go.
After a short road section it was into Alwen. Not your typical Welsh stage, with long straights leading into 90 degree turns. A good stage if you have the nerve to get up to high speed and brake late. Add very muddy sections near the start and it’s a stage to sort the men from the boys. Gavin and Tosh must’ve been on the brave pills because even with a mysterious lose of power, they blasted through the stage with a good time that saw them gain another place.
It was then into a 25 minute regroup before the final stage. Nothing wrong could be found with the car which was now behaving itself again. Hopefully it was something that had cleared itself.
And so to the final stage – Brenig. For the international crews this was also the Power stage. A spectacular stage which starts along the edge of the llyn Brenig reservoir before heading into a narow, muddy section between the trees. Finally, the cars emerge from the forest onto a narrow, fast tarmac section leading uphill to the finish. Right for the start the power loss began happening again, but nothing was going to stop this crew getting to the finish, even if it had to be pushed over the line. Fortunately it didn’t come to that. Not only did they finish under their own steam but they also made up another three places on the leaderboard, finishing 49th overall.
Looking at the times for that final stage, Gavin and Tosh were less than two minutes behind Power stage winner and runner up on the international event, Ott Tanak in the works WRC Fiesta. And he’d been through the stage once already today!!
With that it was back to Llandudno for the ceremonial finish. Only then could the team relax and the celebrations begin.
Gavin: “The game plan for today was to take no risks and get to the finish ramp this year. And we did it! Not the result we could have had. If not for Friday’s problems we could have been looking at a top 20 finish.”
“On behalf of Tosh and myself I’d like to thank my service crew for all their hard work, especially during Friday’s problems. David Jones, Jayson Windos, Little Jay, Scott Jones, Winford Davies, and Robert Impey. Also a big thank you to my sponsors: AdvaSign, Geraint Griffiths Memorials, Taylors Fish & Chips, and Motavista. I couldn’t have done it without you all.”
As for me, I feel like I’ve lived the rally with the team while writing these reports. It’s been a real privilege to be involved.
And with that the rally is over for another year and everyone goes back to their normal lives. However i’m sure everyone involved in the event this weekend, from spectators, marshals, service crews and competitors while long remember the part they played in one of the best (and most extreme) sporting events in the World.