Callum Black and Neil Roskell go into a winner takes all battle on tomorrow’s final round of the 2023 Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship after a tremendous battle on the opening day of the JDS Machinery Rali Ceredigion.
Black and co-driver Jack Morton scored maximum Protyre Asphalt points on today’s penultimate round (Saturday 2 September) after a faultless performance on day one of the Welsh closed road stage event in their 586 Sport-prepared Pallas Connections Ford Fiesta Rally2.
The Brackley driver avoided all the hazards – including a very slippery hairpin on SS2 which caught out many – in the morning and put on harder compound Pirelli tyres to master the drier afternoon loop. After the day’s final double run through the Aberystwyth town centre stage, Black took maximum Round 7 points after finishing an impressive 41.8 seconds ahead of his nearest rival.
And that rival was James Ford, who took second placed Protyre Asphalt points despite a dramatic day in his Sligo Pallets-backed Citroën C3 Rally2. Co-driven by Neil Shanks, Ford lost the brakes on the opening loop of stages and then lost part of the front of the car after hitting a chicane in the afternoon. He only had 15 minutes in service to replace the radiator, but the car looked like new again when Ford started the Aberystwyth stage, and second placed points at the end of the day was just reward.
Roskell collected third placed points after a day which began with a spin on SS2. More serious for him and co-driver Andrew Roughead is the noise coming from his Michelin-shod ND Civils/Burdens/Witham Motorsport Ford Fiesta Rally2’s gearbox.
Kevin Davies enjoyed a good run in his Melvyn Evans Motorsport-prepared Cobra Hydraulics-backed Volkswagen Polo GTI R5. Co-driven by Owain Davies, the Carmarthen driver’s bravery over the fast bumpy sections was rewarded with fourth placed points.
Richard Clews/Carl Williamson were delighting the crowds in their Chevron Motorsport-prepared ITG Subaru Impreza STi, picking up an impressive tally of overall Protyre Asphalt points after an extremely good day.
There was no such luck for local driver Steve Wood. The 2022 Protyre Asphalt champion picked up a front puncture halfway through the long 17 mile Cwm Ystwyth test (SS3) and when he stopped to change it he discovered that the jack wouldn’t work. By the time he and co-driver Kenny Hull had reached the flying finish, a stage maximum was his time penalty – and things didn’t get better in the afternoon, when they stopped with a broken drivershaft.
Mike English (co-driven by Simon Hunter) had an eventful day in his Proact-backed Fiesta Rally2, which included a spin and stall on SS1, two stalls and an overshoot on SS2 and a spin at a hairpin on SS5.
There was a late change of car for Will Hill, after the gearbox on his Hills Ford Fiesta Rally3 had broken in the Mewla Rally. Having already secured the class B14 title, he and Richard Crozier appeared in a front-wheel drive, four cylinder, 1.6-litre normally-aspirated Fiesta R200 – but were out for another giant-killing result nonetheless.
Darren Atkinson/Matt Daniels have closed in on the Escort Challenge and class B13 titles after a good day in their Haldane Fisher Escort Mk2, while Brad Cole/Jamie Vaughan retired their Trick Motorsport-prepared Hydroline Solutions 2.5-litre Escort Mk2 with alternator failure.
The eighth and final round of the 2023 Protyre Asphalt Rally Championship takes place tomorrow (Sunday 3 September) – when day two of Rali Ceredigion takes place. There are six stages in total – three in the morning, repeated in the afternoon – before the ceremonial finish on Aberystwyth Promenade at 17:00.