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Red Dragon Rally 1997

Sponsored by Elf Oils

Port Talbot Motor Club

22nd/23rd March 1997

Clerk of the Course: John Surridge

Route: 140 Miles

Maps: 157 & 158

Starters: 75

Winners: Pete Cotton/Dave Pitchford (Ford Escort)

Pete Cotton/Dave Pitchford put a miserable start to the 1997 season to one side as they took a dominant victory on Port Talbot MC's Red Dragon Rally. The crew's previous outings earlier in the year had netted two non-finishes and one 21st overall, however in the Pembrokeshire lanes it was their turn to have a clear run as other crews hit problems or made mistakes.

The event was a round of both the Welsh and West Midlands Road Rally Championships and as such attracted a capacity entry of 75 cars. The 140 mile route started at Neyland and took in the maze of lanes in the very south-western corner of Wales. There were eleven competitive sections and these were linked by pseudo-regularity sections where competitors were penalised for late arrival, thus the pressure was kept on crews through out the event. The route for the first half was issued at MC1 and there were two route hand outs in the second half. A large number of three metre controls were used.

There were a number of crews still clean at the petrol halt, however Cotton/Pitchford stormed through the second half to end up with a winning margin of over four minutes. They were followed home by Huw Evans/Patrick Walsh, this result was achieved despite their Escort suffering a slipping clutch which had almost ceased to work by the finish. Third, making it an Escort 1-2-3, were Baron Glaze/Pete Davies, who felt they'd had a bad run with a number of wrong slots, however the result gave them the championship lead in both Welsh and West Midlands title chases.

Andrew Green/Eurig Evans were fourth, a pleasing result for the driver who was returning to rallying after an eight year lay off; their only problem during the night was the loss of three minutes after drowning out in a ford. Fifth was Dennis Quinn/Andrew Thompson, they could have been three places higher if they hadn't booked in two minutes early at the end of a regularity section.

First Semi-Expert and ninth overall went to the consistent Carl O'Grady/Gwyn Williams in their Golf. The novice award was won by Emyr Jones/Mark Jones, who were competing on only their fourth rally.

Some front runners were in trouble within a few miles of the start as 26 crews failed to find PC3 which was hidden in a farmyard. Most notable among these were Dave Davies/Owen Dodd who would have won the event but for the fail picked up at that control. Cyril Crook/Chris Ware also fell victim to PC3, they eventually finished 13th overall, however this was enough to give them second position in the Welsh Championship.

It was not a good night for the top two seeds - Tony Davies/Ieaun Thomas were clean of penalties at Petrol but had to retire early in the second half when the starter motor on their Corolla came loose. Meanwhile Wyn Jones/Deian Rees completed only thirty miles before withdrawing after breaking the exhaust on their Escort.


Pos Driver Navigator Car Penalty
1 Pete Cotton Dave Pitchford Ford Escort 2m 59s
2 Huw Evans Patrick Walsh Ford Escort 6m 53s
3 Baron Glaze Pete Davies Ford Escort 7m 04s
4 Andrew Green Eurig Evans Talbot Sunbeam 8m 41s
5 Dennis Quinn Andrew Thomson Ford Escort 9m 28s
6 Will Morgan Pat Gadsby Toyota Corolla 12m 00s
7 Mark Owens Peter Thomas Ford Escort XR3i 19m 45s
8 Clive Greves Rob Duke Vauxhall Chevette 21m 13s
9 Carl O'Grady Gwyn Williams VW Golf GTi 21m 32s
10 Gethin Lewis Aled Jones Ford Escort 43m 12s