Craig Jones has been something of a sensation in his first season in the Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship, with two very strong results in his RHL and Jay Jays backed Mitsubishi Evo 9 on the opening rounds of the 2021 series giving him the lead of class B14 and putting him fourth in the overall drivers’ standings.
The Brecon driver has a lot of experience, although passing his BARS test will be a “very spooky day” that he’ll never forget as it was the on the same day that Colin McRae died and the entire rally world was in shock.
Craig drove a Peugeot 205 for many years before swapping to a Mitsubishi Evo 4 in which he finished 12th overall and 11th in class on the Wales Rally GB National – a remarkable result given that it was his first gravel event in a four-wheel drive car.
Craig now rallies his orange giant-killing Evo 9, which he runs in-house from his CMJ Motors garage.
“The car has been very kind to me,” says Craig. “It is very well built and it has a one hundred per cent finishing record, with us usually fighting for top ten results in it.”
One of his best results came when he finished third overall on the 2019 Corbeau Seats Clacton Rally and second overall on the West Wales Rally Jaffa Stages later the same year at Pembrey with his wife Kristina co-driving.
So far this year Craig has won the B14 class on the Old Forge Garage Mewla Rally and finished second in class on the Hills Ford Three Shires Stages to lead the category by three points going into this weekend’s PokerStars Rally.
“So far this year I’m pleased with progress. We knew that the Mewla would be a strong start for us as the range is my doorstep event, and I was quite happy with a good haul of points on the Three Shires. It’s a shame that I lost my head on the first loop after coming across a rolled car. I totally lost my rhythm and was bothering and thinking of times instead of concentrating on the job in hand. It probably cost us the class win to be honest.
“I’m really looking forward to the PokerStars and hoping for a good result. I’m quietly confident that we will have a good run. It would be nice if I can take a good haul of points as it’s the double header round too.
“We would never be able to even commit to a championship if it wasn’t for our sponsors, so I must give a big shout out to Rob Hughes at RHL steel frame fabrication and fixings and to Jay Jays of Brecon.
Craig is co-driven by Shaun Layland from Paignton in Devon, who started navigating nine years ago (when he was just 15-years old). After gaining a lot of experience in a wide variety of cars, Shaun graduated from the Motorsport UK Co-Drivers’ Academy and won the King of Epynt Challenge alongside Craig in their debut year together in 2019.
“Early in 2019 I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to sit alongside Craig and work alongside the rest of the CMJ Motorsport team,” says Shaun.
“Straight away I felt that we had gelled extremely well and since then we have developed as a crew and have formed that rally marriage that can be so crucial within the sport. There isn’t a week that goes by where we aren’t on the ‘phone to each other about something rally related or none-rally related.
“So far throughout 2021 we have done our best out keep out of trouble and try our best to secure as best a haul of points within the Protyre Asphalt Championship as possible. Personally, I am hopeful we are able to deliver another strong result on the PokerStars, but saying this we won’t be putting any pressure on ourselves and we will do our own rally.”