A star-studded entry, which stretches from the most exciting British asphalt rally drivers in World Rally Cars to an incredible array of both experienced and youthful drivers in a huge variety of class cars, will contest the opening round of the 2019 Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship, the Rallynuts National Tour of Epynt Rally, on Sunday 10 March.
The event, organised by Port Talbot Motor Club, contains rally cars from 15 different manufacturers and almost 40 different models – including eight World Rally Cars, six R5-spec cars and everything from a state-of-the-art Hyundai i20 WRC to a home-built rear-wheel drive Vauxhall Astra.
Jason Pritchard/Phil Clarke will be aiming to make a good start to the defence of their overall drivers’ and co-drivers’ titles in their North Road Garage-backed Ford Focus WRC05 – which is one of three such cars on the entry list. The local driver won three rallies in the car last year, including the Old Forge Garage Mewla Rally on Epynt, but hasn’t even sat in it since winning the title on the final round of last year’s series! As in 2018, Pritchard plans to alternate during the season between the Focus WRC and the Fiesta S2000 he drove to third place on last year’s Tour of Epynt.
His rivals for victory on Epynt are many, but top of the list is Damian Cole. The Abergavenny driver has an incredible record of 20 wins on Epynt, but has only won the Tour of Epynt once. He will also drive a Focus WRC05, and will give the Get Connected-backed car a shakedown on this weekend’s Bovington Stages. It’s a car he knows well, having won five of his six Asphalt Rally Championship titles in it (2010-2014), and he’ll have a new co-driver for 2019 – Shelley Rogerson, who last completed on the 2009 Cambrian Rally navigating for Andy Burton (Peugeot Cosworth).
Former BTRDA Gold Star champion and 2017 Manx National winner Hugh Hunter will also drive his ex-François Duval factory Focus WRC05. The Ruthin man has only ever competed on Epynt once before, way back in 1993, and will be guided along the narrow undulating unfamiliar roads by Rob Fagg.
John Stone is by no means an Epynt expert either, although the Blackburn driver has always competed there in powerful machinery – like a Metro 6R4, Hyundai Accent WRC and Škoda Fabia WRC. This year is no exception, as he, co-driven by Jack Morton, returns to the ranges in his Legend Fires-backed Ford Fiesta WRC.
Having made a couple of appearances over the years on Epynt in a Toyota Celica ST185 and Corolla WRC, Gary Le Coadou will contest the event in an ex-works Hyundai i20 WRC. Co-driven by Carl Sorensen, it’s the first time such a car has been seen on the Asphalt Rally Championship.
A trio of Subaru Impreza WRCs are contesting the event, headed by Bob Fowden. It’s the Llanelli driver’s first event since a broken exhaust manifold on last year’s Manx National caused an under bonnet blaze that badly damaged his Comline Auto Parts/NGK-backed WRC S11. It’s taken nine months to fully repair the ex-Petter Solberg car, and he and Aled Davies will be a welcome sight back on the stages. Chris Ford/Neil Coleman will also be there in their ex-Chris Atkinson Century Hose-backed Impreza WRC S11, while Carmarthen’s Nigel Jones/Tracy Davies bring their Impreza WRC S9.
The top seeded R5-spec car will be driven by Sebastian Ling/Aled Rees, who start at number five in their smart Citroën DS3 R5. Alan Kirkaldy/Cameron Fair bring their Fiesta R5, as do former Subaru crew David Hardie/John McCulloch. Spencer Sport brings a trio of very rapid Mitsubishi Mirages, driven by Jamie Jukes/James Morgan, John Indri/Matthew Smalley and Philip Hopkins/Aled Edwards – all of which are more than capable of battling for a giant-killing result.
Also back is the crew that led for much of last year’s Asphalt Rally Championship, B14 class champions Wayne Sisson/Max Freeman in their AMS Arnside Motorsport Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10. They were super fast throughout all of last year, never finishing lower than sixth, coming home fifth three times in a row and scoring a season-best third on the Manx National to finish runners-up in the overall standings – despite many of the events being completely new to Sisson.
Some of the other top four-wheel drive propelled crews include Phil Turner/Simon Anthony (Mitsubishi Evo 9), David Longfellow/Mark Broadbent (Subaru Impreza LX), Olli Hopkins/Ian Taylor (Hopkins Motorsport Mitsubishi Evo), Chris Rice/Craig Cameron (TAS Motorsport Subaru Impreza) and Richard Clews/Hamish Campbell in their ITG Air Filters Subaru Impreza.
The top seeded two-wheel drive crew is Huw Reed/Anthony Hackett in their 2.5-litre Millington Series 2-engined, ex-John Dalton/Damian Cole, Darrian T90 GTR. They’ll start at number eight, followed immediately behind by the triple Welsh Tarmac Champion Richard Merriman, who, together with Kath Curzon, drives a two-litre Vauxhall-engined Darrian T90. Another great rear-wheel drive car to watch will be the new BMW M3 driven by the hard-charging Richard Felgate/Mark Mason.
The Doroszczuk brothers, Paul and Julian, return to defend their Asphalt Rally Championship B11 class crown in their normally-aspirated Cosworth-engined Drockspeed Motorsport machine, battling flat-out with the likes of Phil Turner/Ryan Griffiths in their Toovey Race Engines/ST Motorsport-backed Escort Mk2. Epynt will be a special event for Geoff Glover, as it will be his 100th rally in his self-built rear-wheel drive Astra. Glover has supported the Asphalt Rally Championship since its inception, and, together with co-driver Keith Barker, finished runner-up in B11 last year.
Defending B12 class champion Mike Pugsley is also back in his gorgeous 1974 Escort Mk1 RS2000. Co-driven by Marc Clatworthy, the Welsh driver starts his seventh season in the car he maintains himself in his Bedlinog garage.
Also aiming for class glory will be B10 class runners-up Rhidian Daniels/Tomos Whittle in their Citroën C1 Max, Roger Priestnall/Jamie Forrest in their Proton Satria S1600, Adrian Drury/Cat Lund in their smart Peugeot 106 GTi, Jonathan Stepney/Aled Davies is their Peugeot 205 GTi, Wayne Ellis/Gareth Price in their Peugeot 206, Marcus Padgett/Rhys Stoneman in their Nissan Micra Kit Car and Will Mains/Claire Williams in the hardest driven Vauxhall Nova on the planet.
Following last year’s huge success – when 645,000 people watched the Asphalt Rally Championship action via the Special Stage Facebook page – all seven rounds of this year’s series (the Masterpixel Media Manx National Rally on 10/11 May now counting as a double header) will benefit from increased LIVE web-streaming coverage, with two camera crews out on each event. On Epynt, commentary will come from Howard Davies and Gemma Watson, while rally legend Phil Collins will be the guest presenter. The entire event will be broadcast live and the footage will remain on the Special Stage Facebook page for fans to view after the event.
This year’s Rallynuts National Tour of Epynt is based in Llandovery, with approximately 70 miles of stages over the famous Epynt military ranges. A competitor recce, followed by technical scrutineering, takes place on Saturday 9 March, before the action gets underway the following day (Sunday 10 March) at 08.40. The service area will be situated on the ranges at the Quarry and the finish will be back in Llandovery at around 16.30.
Spectators are welcome and should approach the Epynt ranges via the ‘dual carriageway’ off the A40 at Llywel. Admission is £10 per car and includes a comprehensive Spectator Guide and Entry List. Please park where instructed by the marshals.
The Rallynuts National Tour of Epynt is Round 1 of the 2019 Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship, and Championship Regulations and Entry Forms are available to download at: asphaltrallying.com
2019 Rallynuts National Tour of Epynt – seeded top 10
1. Jason Pritchard/Phil Clarke….Ford Focus WRC05
2. Damian Cole/Shelley Rogerson ….Ford Focus WRC05
3. Bob Fowden/Aled Davies….Subaru Impreza WRC S11
4. Hugh Hunter/Rob Fagg ….Ford Focus WRC05
5. Sebastian Ling/Aled Rees….Citroën DS3 R5
6. Jamie Jukes/James Morgan….Mitsubishi Mirage
7. Phil Turner/Simon Anthony….Mitsubishi Evo 9
8. Huw Reed/Anthony Hackett….Darrian T90 GTR
9. Richard Merriman/Kath Curzon…Darrian T90
10. John Stone/Jack Morton….Ford Fiesta WRC