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Farrington Trophy Rally

Sponsored by Automark

Clwyd Vale Motor Club

16th/17th November 2019

Winners Photo
Winners: Chris Hand/Darren Ikin (Ford Sierra)
Photograph: Joseph John Gilbertson

Organiser: Clwyd Vale Motor Club

Date: 16th/17th November 2019

Clerk of the Course: Al Hayward

Route: 130 Miles

Maps: 116

Starters: 59

Chris Hand followed up his Cilwendeg win three weeks earlier with victory in treacherous conditions on the Farrington Trophy. Navigated by Darren Ikin, Hand held off a constant challenge from newly crowned Welsh Champions Mark Lennox/Ian Beamond.

The Automark Farrington Trophy started from a new venue, the Tennis Club at Ruthin. Fifty-nine starters lined up for a 130 mile run through the Denbighshire lanes. Conditions could have hardly been worse; it started raining just before the off and continue to pour down for the duration of the rally. This, plus the preceding weeks of heavy rain, meant that there was a large amount of standing water, in some parts actually being floods. On a lot of the higher ground there was thick patchy mist; there was no pattern to this, areas of virtually zero visibility suddenly cleared, before the cloud closed in again.

Competition started with an easy seven minute section to the north of Ruthin. Only three crews dropped time at the finish control. The second section was a mammoth 44 minute test, with six intermediate timing points, plus the finish. It started at Pentre Coch Manor and ran through the notorious Llysfasi maze before heading south towards Gwyddelwern. The very not-as-map junctions on the eastern edge of square 1552 had navigators unfamiliar with the area scratching their heads.

It was on this section that it became evident that the Farrington was going to be a two horse race. At the end of it Hand/Ikin and Lennox/Beamond were separated by seven seconds, on 1m32s and 1m39s respectively. They had dropped time at just two controls. Zak Hughes/Robbie Pugh were third but well over a minute behind on 2m54s; but had Mal Acott/Roger Evans just three seconds and Steve King/Andrew Lowe five seconds in arrears. The leading Semi-Experts at this point were Malcolm Atherton/Lewis Griffiths, who were in 11th place overall on 3m51s.

This section claimed the scalp of Kev Parry/Rhodri Jones, who withdrew after picking up a wrong approach at a three-metre control. Stu Kelso/Nick Meredith were also on the retirement list as they thumped a bank with their Peugeot.

The third section was equally demanding, although shorter with a target time of 25 minutes. It ran into the southern part of the Clocaenog Forest, starting at Hendre Arddwyfaen before looping almost to Bettws Gwerfil Goch. The two leading crews dropped time at just one of the four intermediate time controls, TC3C, with Hand/Ikin extending their lead by being 20 seconds faster than Lennox/Beamond. Hughes/Pugh, in their Ka, were two seconds quicker over the complete section than Lennox/Beamond.

The final section before the petrol halt was a quick run over the lane through the northern part of Clocaenog Forest. All crews, bar two, cleaned it. This meant that at the break Hand/Ikin led Lennox/Beamond by 27 seconds, with Hughes/Pugh 1m50s off the lead in third. King/Lowe were in fourth, while fifth place had to be decided on a tie breaker between Acott/Evans and Andrew Baines/Deio Hughes, the latter having been amongst the fastest crews through Clocaenog. The Semi-Experts were now led by Gerallt Williams/Jamie Atherton, who were 14 seconds ahead of Malcolm Atherton/Lewis Griffiths. At this point Dyfrig Glyn Evans/Carwyn Vaughan Evans held over a four minute lead in the Novice Class; they failed to maintain this position after the restart as problems caused them to have to cut part of Section 6.

Paul Morgan/Matt Rees had had a bad first half. They had lost time with a wrong slot and then their Honda Civic developed a misfire. They lay in tenth place, but retired in the second half as the engine problems got worse. Matthew Jones/Ryan Griffiths were in ninth place at Petrol, but were also side lined by engine maladies in the second half. Christopher Farrell/Merfyn Williams and Will Rowlands/Llion Williams retired after a collision between the two cars.

The fifth section was the classic run through Parc Farm, just south of the A5; it’s usually a certain dropper when ever it is used. However, Lennox/Beamond cleaned it, while Hand/Ikin were 12 seconds late at the Finish. The gap between the two crews was now 15 seconds. Hughes/Pugh were four seconds faster than the leaders and Baines/Hughes had moved up two places to fourth place overall.

Section 6 started near Llyn Aled and ran north to the lanes below Llansannan, before heading back south, finishing back at the main A543 road. It was a 26 minute section with four timing points. All crews dropped time on the section. Both leading crews at TC6C, which was near Cefn Bach. Hand/Ikin were fastest on two seconds, while Lennox/Beamond dropped 19 seconds. Baines/Hughes cleaned that control but had dropped 1m34s at TC3B. At the end of the section the top four positions remained the same as they’d been at the start, Hughes/Pugh having picked up a total of 32s in penalties.

The final section was a sting in the tail; it had nine timing points with a target time from start to finish of 57 minutes. Lennox/Beamond were fastest to TC7A, beating Hand/Ikin by 4 seconds, however the Escort crew then dropped 5 seconds at TC7C and 13 at TC7E, both of which Hand, in his Sierra, cleaned. His lead was now 46 seconds. This was cut to 18 seconds at the penultimate TC, where Lennox dropped just 1 second. The matter was decided at the final control when Hand/Ikin were 28 seconds faster and finished with a victory margin of 46 seconds. These two crews had set a pace that couldn’t me matched by the rest of the field.

Zak Hughes/Robbie Pugh finished in third, but were over five minutes off the lead, but two and half minutes ahead of fourth placed Mike Webber/Ashley Owen, who had moved up from their seventh position at Petrol. Baines/Hughes fell to ninth place after backing off in the final miles as a worrying clanking noise developed at the rear of their Escort.

Eighth place and victory in the Semi-Expert Class went to Gerallt Williams/Jamie Atherton, who were over three minutes ahead of their nearest class rival. Tegid Evans/David Davies won the Novice Class.

It had been a tough event and only 34 of the 59 starters were classified as finishers. The result puts Lennox and Beamond in a strong position to add the North Western Championship to their Welsh Championship title. There is just one round remaining, the Eagle in early December.