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2009 News

For 2009 I have decided to move from tarmac to gravel to broaden my experience onto
different surfaces. I shall be contesting both the MSA Welsh National Rally Championship
and the MSA Welsh Clubman Rally Championship and also registered for the 2009 ANWCC Championship
. I shall be driving a Subaru Impreza which will be a totally different driving experience to my trusty
Honda Civic in which I did so well last year on Tarmac.


Cambrian Rally
17th October 2009

Overall a very mixed day.....but with a happy ending!

After the engine problems on the Woodpecker Rally there was a lot to do to the car but it was sorted and
was in fine form. The first two stages ran smoothly - the car was going great and the stages were fairly
smooth and flowing. In Stage 3, we got stuck behind a car which had been in an accident and unfortunately
we were given a nominal time which put us about 40 seconds off the pace. Stage 4 was tricky and about a quarter of the way through there was a nasty hairpin right which I didn't quite make! With help from the marshals (thanks, guys!!) we got back on the road but it had cost us 4 minutes. With so much time lost,
our main aim was to finish the event and gain some points The final stage 5 was really great - a 16-miler
which went very well, setting a top 20 time!

So.... a good end to a fantastic season, my first on gravel. At the beginning of the year, I'd never have
thought I would be where I am now. A BIG THANK YOU to EVERYONE who has helped me this year.

2010? Bring it on!!!! Watch this space.......

Woodpecker Rally
5th September 2009

On the Monday night before the rally, our shed containing all our rally wheels and tyres was broken into and all stolen. Also stolen were all Jonathan's tools and a lot other stuff besides. See my Home page for more details.

After the problems we had on the last rally, it would have been good to have a good test but the suspension only came back from a rebuild on the Thursday before the rally. But after only one mile of the test on Thursday evening, the engine cut out and wouldn't re-start. It was later traced to loose wiring to the ECU. So some quick finishing-off work was needed before heading off to Ludlow early on Saturday for the rally.

The first stage went well but at the start of the next, the car was very down on power, misfiring and very sluggish. The next 20 minute service didn't give us enough time to sort it out and we seriously considered calling it a day. But I badly needed some points for the Championship so we carried on. At the emergency service point before the last stage, the guys changed the airflow meter. The car seemed a bit better but still not up to its usual power. But we finished, at least!

So now there's a lot of work needed to get the car ready for the final event of the championship, the Cambrian Rally on 17th October.

How much bad luck can one put up with - keep fingers crossed for me and I hope to see you there!

Neath Valley Stages
15th August 2009

We travelled down to Walters Arena near Neath in south Wales for a very wet and slippery rally!
The first three stages of the event went well considering the conditions and we were pleased to find ourselves 9th overall at the lunch break and service. The same three stages were run in the afternoon but the roads were extra slippery due to the incessant rain. We had a great run through the Walters Arena stage 4, setting a top 5 time. Stage 5 went well, too, but Stage 6 was one to forget. We ran a bit wide on a 5 Left, hit the bank and flipped the car on its roof! It was a frightening experience but thankfully there was little damage to the car and we will be out on the Woodpecker Rally on 5th September. A disappointing end to a great run generally.
And what's more, no points.....grrrr!!

Coracle Stages
26th July 2009

Another rally at Sweet Lamb and the weather was wet as usual! This made for very treachorous conditions
as it got wetter as the day went on, making for very slippery conditions. As there had only been a week
since Swansea Bay, D&C Rallying had not been able to resolve the centre diff problem so once again we
were destined to run the rally again in two wheel drive in my quest for championship points.

The handling was again not so good but we still managed to set reasonable times by staying neat and tidy. With the weather worsening and a final long stage to come, the team made some adjustments to the suspension settings and it made a big difference, especially on the tighter corners. We set a very good
time on the stage - good enough to give us 9th overall, 5th in class and best mixed crew. More points, too!!

We have a bit of a breather now before the next event - the Neath Valley Stages on 15th August. Hopefully
the car will be back in 100% condition and we can really push for a good result.

Swansea Bay Rally
18th July 2009

A big entry for this rally and some big names. In the week before the rally, there had been a big rush
to get the new dogbox fitted and I had not had a chance to test it before the event. So it only got checked
out on the road section to the first stage! We set a quick time on that first stage giving us a good feeling
for the rest of the event. But I felt the car wasn't handling properly so the team changed tyres at service
but the car was still sliding a lot at the back. After the event, it was found that the centre diff wasn't working
and this accounted for the odd handling.

Despite the problem, we were still lying as high as 5th overall after the third stage. The final stage was not the best for me - I think I was trying to push a little too hard and made some mistakes causing us to lose time.
But I was pleased to finish 8th overall and, more importantly, winning the class as well. And....another
bagfull of much-needed points!

D&C Rallying are now hard at work on preparing the car for the Coracle Stages in just a week's time.

Mid Wales Stages
21st June 2009

This was the next round of the Lico Welsh Clubman series, one in which we are really chasing points.
We arrived at the Newtown start on Saturday, 20th June for scrutineering - in the process missing my
uncle's 50th birthday celebrations. Happy 50th Uncle Twm!!

With the start only being at 11 am on Sunday, we had a long wait but the first special stage went well
setting a good time even though the car wasn't handling so well. A quick change of tyres at service after
the first couple of stages resolved that and made a big difference to the Subaru's handling. We had a
small loss of power on the last stage due to loose exhaust gaskets. Conditions were ideal - a few
blustery showers keeping the dust down. But otherwise, we had agood run,finishing 12th Overall to bag some good points towards the Lico Clubman series. I am now 4th Overall and
2nd in Class 4 in the championship, along with leading the Under-25s and Ladies classes.

On to Swansea Bay on 18th July - hope we can get the car sorted in time!

Severn Valley Stages
30th May 2009

A local rally for us in Builth Wells, only 30 minutes down the raod from our home in Brecon. With Patrick
not being available for rhe co-driver's seat, we called on another local, Martin Jones to call the notes.
A big thank you to Martin at such short notice!

Having entered for the Clubman section of the rally, I only had to complete five stages but it was very hot
and dusty making the drive difficult and uncomfortable. There were well-known forest stages on the Epynt militaryranges, such as Cefn, Halfway and Crychan then a long road section to tackle the final stage,
Radnor - a very long and tricky stage.

I had a very enjoyable day and am pleased to be getting to grips with the car on a variety of surfaces
and in very different weather conditions. Everything from snow and ice to mud and now thick dust!

I was very pleased to record my first top ten finish - 9th Overall and 8th in Class. In the Lico Clubman series,,
I am now 6th Overall, 3rd in Class 4 and leading the Under-25's and Ladies classes.
Now we look forward to the next event, the Mid Wales on 21st June - not far off! See you all there!

Plains Rally
16th May 2009

After the problems we had with the turbo on the Bulldog Rally, we decided to do a test to check out the
anti-lag. After a few runs with no problems we felt the car was ready for the Plains.

We travelled up to Welshpool on the Friday for scrutineering and signing-on. The weather was a
mixture of showers and sunny spells so it was difficult to judge what to expect. The first stage was the infamous Mick Jones Woodyard which, with its mixture of surfaces, was very slippery in places. Then it was
off to three classic mid-Wales forest stages above the Dyfi Valley near Aberangell. I feel that I am now getting
used to the car and the forest gravel surfaces which are so different to tarmac.

After stage 4 there was a quick emergency service before heading to Dolgellau for the main service and regroup. On the way, I was changing from second to third gear when the car shuddered and came to an abrupt stop. Luckily our chase service vehicle was not far behind us and was able to tow us into a lay-by. Unfortunately, there was nothing they could do as the gearbox had seized. The selector fork had broken causing the car to be stuck between gears so we had to call it a day.

It was a very disappointing day but hopefully we can have the car ready in time for the next event - the
Severn Valley Stages on 30th May.

Bulldog Rally
28th March 2009

We travellled up to Llangollen on the Friday evening, just in time to get the car scrutineered.

ForumI had kindly been asked to sit in on the Rally Forum that was being held that evening. I sat on that stage with some of the most well-known people in rallying, both past and present. I was seated between Phil Mills and Russell Brookes with the likes of Gwyndaf Evans also nearby.It was a nerve-racking experience, especially when it came to my turn to speak. But I
felt both happy and honoured to have been invited.

During the week before the event, I went to test the car with the turbo anti-lag as I had never driven the car with this activated before. But two miles into the test, the turbo blew! Thanks to D & C Rallying, they managed to get a new turbo fitted but it was decided not to use anti-lag on the event in case of further turbo problems.

On the Saturday, the Clubman event didn't leave the service park until 11am. The morning dragged slowly until it was time to leave the start. The first stage didn't go as well as I had wanted it to so back at first service, the suspension was adjusted and I went back out for two more long stages. These went better than the first, fast in some places but rough and rutted since so many other cars had already used the roads.

The fourth and last stage went very well - not as long as the previous two at just 8 miles. Overall, I was happy with the result of 16th Overall in the Clubman event and another haul of points for the championship.

Telford Winter Stages
14th February 2009

When we set off from home early on Saturday morning, the weather looked good. I hoped to have a
rally with no adverse conditions but I thought wrong! On arrival in the mountains of Sweet Lamb, all I could
see was FOG! This made driving tricky until it bagan to clear at lunchtime. I was lucky to have
Patrick Walsh navigating again. The roads on Sweet Lamb and Hafren are totally different in character to the other two events I've tackled this year, being very rough and rutted in places and also some snow and ice from the wintery weather earlier in the week. And LOTS of water splashes!

I was seeded at car number 12 and was delighted to finish 12th Overall and 4th in class. In the Welsh
Clubmans Championship, I am now 8th Overall and 3rd in Class - not bad, considering I am running
in the "big boys" class!

Thanks to the incorrigable Geoff Mayes, you can view a short YouTube clip of me from this event,
Click on the thumbnail below to view.

YouTube link

Get Connected! Wyedean Rally
7th February 2009

What an event! It's not every day you get to do an event in the snow unless you go abroad.
There were severe weather warnings for snow in the week before the rally and it wasn't thawing quickly.
Only my second event in the forests and in a four wheel drive Subaru. We got to a very cold and slippery
Chepstow Racecourse on Friday night for signing on and scrutineering. Chris Davies was navigating
for me on this one as he is also chasing Welsh Forestry Championship points.
Saturday morning and no sign of any easier conditions so it was time to break out the snow tyres!
The organisers decided to start the event an hour later than planned and also cancelled Stage 6.

I could not believe I was tackling only my second gravel rally and it was on snow! I drove smoothly and cleanly on Stage 1 which rewarded me with a surprising 11th fastest. Generally, the day went well, with some
stages better than others but you never knew what to expect on each and every corner.

So we finished the rally well considering the conditions in 28th Overall and 9th in Class. I also won the
Bob Brian Memorial Trophy for the highest-placed lady driver and the Forest of Dean Youth Cup for the
highest-placed young driver. A great end to a tricky day!

After the Wyedean, I am now leading the Under-25's, 2nd in Class B13 and 4th Overall in
the Welsh National Forestry Championship. Very happy!

Red Kite Stages
18th January 2009

My first ever gravel event and my first competative outing in the Subaru.With the event based in
Llandovery, it was nice to start the season on an event close to home. Dorrian Rees of D & C rallying,
who prepares the car, also arranged for me to be co-driven by the very experienced Patrick Walsh.
So I had a few reasons to be a little nervous at the start. The weather had cleared from the rain the
day before but the route was still quite slippery but the skies stayed dry.

There were three stages each run twice - Cefn Llwydlo, Crychan and Esgair Dafydd. I made a cautious
start but after a few miles, I began to get used to the woods and the way the car handled on the gravel.
Overall, a good event to start off with. No "moments", which is always a good thing! We came 21st
overall and 6th in class. Roll on the Wyedean! This is FUN.......

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