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Mel Harries Memorial Rally 1996

Sponsored by Highway Competition Tyres

Ammanford Motor Club

12th/13th October 1996

Clerk of the Course: Ieuan Thomas

Route: 140 Miles

Maps: 159 & 146

Starters: 60

Winners: Baron Glaze/Dave Pitchford (Ford Escort)

Baron Glaze/Dave Pitchford put their Welsh Championship campaign back on track as they took victory on the Mel Harries Memorial Rally. However the event was notable for a row that erupted at the Finish where three of the leading crews were given large penalties for booking out of the petrol halt early. The competitors involved disputed the decision and the matter was taken to an RAC MSA tribunal. That hearing upheld the penalties and the original results stood.

Mel Harries Memorial Rally 1996

Ammanford & District MC had attracted sixty starters to the nineth round of the Welsh title race and had laid out a 140 mile route starting and finishing at their home town. In between the route took in a broad clockwise sweep through the Carmarthen and Llandeilo areas. The nine sections were all to be plot and bash. Unfortunately problems arose as the first course cars were about to leave the start line. The start had to be delayed by 29 minutes due to an accident on an early section of the route. A spectator had crashed and the police requested the delay. A small re-route was issued and to compensate for the late start the organisers extended maximum lateness from 30 minutes to an hour.

The very first two mile section, through 'The Jungle' was to be the tie decider timed to the second. In fact it was the only test on which many of the top seeds dropped time all night. Fastest by a comfortable margin were Dave Davies/Owen Dodd who set an impressive 1m 12s. Their nearest rivals were the main championship contenders Glaze/Pitchford and Wyn Jones/Phil Clarke, both of whom dropped 2m 10s. Behind them Mynydd Du winners John Evans/Eurig Evans dropped 2m 15s despite a huge spin. The first time pairing of Dave James/Shaun O'Gorman set 2m 35s in their 1300cc Escort. For all five crews these were the only time penalties dropped in the event.

Tony Davies/Dyfan Davies were also on 2m 10s on the opening section, but then lost five minutes when they hit a bank and punctured a front tyre. They completed the event without dropping any more time but ended in a comparatively lowly thirteenth place. Also in trouble on that section were Paul Holmberg/Maurice Leach who misplotted a reference and dropped four minutes as a result.

The incident that was to cause difficulties at the finish happened at the petrol halt. The top three seeds, Jones/Clarke, Davies/Dodd and Richard Lewis/Phil Pugh were unsure as to whether they should restart the second half on their original due time or wait the delayed 29 minutes. Unable to find an official they took the collective decision to restart on their due time, a judgement they felt was reinforced by the fact that the course cars were already leaving the control. The rest of the field however abided by the fact that the halfway halt was not a time recovery section and waited the fully allotted 58 minutes.

At the finish venue the results were published and showed the three crews involved to have been penalised by 30 fails for booking in early at the restart. If this was left to stand Davies/Dodd would be denied the win and Jones/Clarke would lose the chance to tie up the Welsh title. A protest was submitted, this emphasised the point that the amendment issued at the start had not been signed by the Clerk of the Course. This appeal was rejected by both the Clerk of Course and the Stewards of the Meeting. The matter went to an MSA tribunal the following month. While the tribunal criticised some aspects of the organisation, it found that the penalties were correct as the crews in question had made up time in a section where time recovery was prohibited.

Glaze/Pitchford were therefore confirmed as the winners, a result which put them back in with a chance of denying Jones/Clarke the Welsh title. Glaze was now just seven points behind Jones, and Clarke was six in front of Pitchford. Two rounds now remained.

John and Eurig Evans were second in front of James/O'Gorman. Mark Jukes/Jon Stobbs, who continued their impressive run of results, survived brake issues to claim fourth. The Semi-Expert class went to the local crew of Steve Williams/Ian Taylor who finished 15th overall, while the Novice award was won by the Escort of Martyn Ellaway/Matthew Farr.


Pos Driver Navigator Car Penalty
1 Baron Glaze Dave Pitchford Ford Escort 2m 10s
2 John Evans Eurig Evans Hillman Avenger 2m 15s
3 Dave James Shaun O'Gorman Ford Escort 2m 35s
4 Mark Jukes Jon Stobbs Toyota Corolla 2m 45s
5 Gary Robbins Andy Bowen Vauxhall Astra 3m 32s
6 Dai John Paul Bevan Toyota Corolla 4m 10s
7 Peter Zjalic Richard Preece Toyota Corolla 4m 40s
8 Des Phasey Steve Price Ford Escort 4m 45s
9 Malcolm Walters Alan Ginn Ford EScort G3 4m 50s
10 Wyn Lewis Patrick Walsh Vauxhall Astra 4m 50s