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Night Owl Rally 1997

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Aberystwyth & District Motor Club

26th/27th April 1997

Clerk of the Course: Wyn Jones & John Whitehurst

Route: 130 Miles

Maps: 135 & 146

Starters: 63

Winners: Elgan Jones/Byron Jones (Vauxhall Astra GTE)

Elgan and Byron Jones, in their Astra GTE, won the 1997 Night Owl Rally, the fifth round of the Welsh Road Rally Championship. The Aberyswyth Motor Club organised event proved to be a tough test of competitors, this became evident by the petrol halt when 21 of the 63 starters were found to be OTL, these included a number of the expected front runners.

Night Owl 1997

The 130 mile route started north of Aberyswyth then generally worked its way south, via Tal-y-Bont, Pendam, Trebenter and Llangeitho before returning to the Finish at the Ceredigion seaside resort. The organisers used most of the devices available to them to gain a result; these being an intricate route, continual plot 'n bash, the use of numeroud of whites and a large number of controls. When foggy conditions on the long third section were added, it was to lead to mayhem as crews dropped large amounts of time and were beyond their time limit before reaching the start of the fifth section and a time recovery point.

The most notable casualties were Dennis Quinn/Andrew Thomson, they were unfortunate enough to suffer a puncture on their Escort on the fourth section, they dropped nine minutes and went OTL at the next time control. They were not alone, Des Phasey/Paul Middleton, Dave James/Emyr Jones and Nick Broadway/Andy Oakes were among a large number to join them.

Some crews did avoid this fate however by either cutting route, as Sarah Harmer/Pat Gadsby did, or by regaining time by refusing to take times at controls where they were OTL and then being free to book in at an earlier time at subsequent controls - Dave Davies/Owen Dodd used the latter method. Both strategies meant that the crews involved picked up fails but it did mean that they were able complete the event and be classified in the results.

At the petrol halt Elgan Jones/Byron Jones led the survivors but their lead was only 13 seconds over the RS2000 of Huw Evans/Patrick Walsh. Both crews went on to drop two minutes in the less demanding second half and therefore at the Finish the positions remained the same. Two crews who may have featured in the top results retired while in good positions; the Sunbeam of Cyril Crook/Chris Ware succumbed to alternator failure while the Sierra of Hefin Lewis/Deian Rees suffered a broken wheel.

Peter Zjalic/Richard Preece had been in third at the halfway point in their Corolla, however they dropped 11 minutes in the second half as Preece began to feel unwell; they eventually finished sixth. The Standard Production Award went to 1996 winners Graham Evans/Ian Mills, they finished fifth after surviving a small electrical fire in their Corolla as they waited to start the second half.

The Semi-Expert class was won in dominant style by the Escort of Tim Evans/Ceri Davies; the Epynt Motor Club crew were returning to road rallying after an 18 month layoff. They found themselves in a very creditable sixth place overall at the halfway point, they fell back a little in the second half but were eventually classified tenth. There were no finishers in the Novice Class; three cars had completed the first half within maximum lateness but all were to retired in the latter stages.


Pos Driver Navigator Car Penalty
1 Elgan Jones Byron Jones Vauxhall Astra GTE 22m 45s
2 Huw Evans Patrick Walsh Ford Escort 22m 58s
3 Mark Williams Phil Clarke Ford Escort 22m 58s
4 Gareth Lloyd Dorian Evans Ford Escort 29m 22s
5 Graham Evans Ian Mills Toyota Corolla 32m 11s
6 Peter Zjalic Richard Preece Toyota Corolla 32m 54s
7 Gethin Lewis Aled Jones Ford Escort RS 25m 20s
8 Pete Cotton Dave Pitchford Ford Escort 34m 29s
9 Paul Webb Sarah Preece Toyota Corolla 36m 22s
10 Tim Evans Ceri Davies Ford Escort 39m 37s
11 Gerwyn Evans John Hands Ford Escort 41m 13s
12 Simon Stock Alun Probert Ford Escort RS 41m 34s
13 Dai John Paul Bevan Toyota Corolla 45m 25s
14 Simon Maczack Dai Richards Ford Escort 1F 26m 39s
15 Dave Davies Owen Dodd Vauxhall Cavalier SRi 1F 32m 00s
16 Baron Glaze Pete Davies Ford Escort 1F 39m 11s
17 Toby Adam Mark Robinson Ford Escort 2F 31m 00s
18 Gareth Owens Mark Jones Ford Escort 2F 39m 00s
19 Hefin George Dilwyn John Nissan Sunny 2F 43m 00s
20 Sarah Harmer Pat Gadsby MG Maestro 3F 30m 00s
21 Karl Hancocks Steve Durbin Ford Escort XR3i 3F 43m 00s
22 Bob Gibbons Stuart Cardell Ford Escort 3F 52m 19s
23 Carwyn James Dalis Ifans Ford Escort RS 5F 20m 00s
24 Gary Marshallsea Dave Howell Mini Cooper 9F 53m 00s