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Gremlin Historic Rally

Sponsored by Old Forge Garage

Brecon Motor Club

7th May 2023

Gremlin Historic Rally 2023
Winners: Dan Willan/Niall Frost (Volvo PV544)
Photograph: M&H Photography

Organiser: Brecon Motor Club

Date: 7th May 2023

Clerk of the Course: Paul Morris & Martin Leonard

Route: 144 Miles, 8 Tests & 5 Regularities

Base: Three Cocks

Starters: 56

Round Three of the HRCR Clubmans Championship, the Gremlin Historic Rally, started at Three Cocks near the Powys/Herefordshire border and utilised large sections of the Epynt Military Ranges.

Fifty-six crews took the start on Coronation Sunday morning; the original 59 entry had been reduced as the Porche 924S of Brian Dwelly/Janette Dwelly broke down on the journey to the event and Robert Clifton/Julie Clifton had their Magnum expire as they completed the Measured Mile.

The first regularity started near Felinfach and, using map features navigation, took crews onto the Epynt Ranges. It was over 20 miles in length and contain seven timing points, plus three PCs. Clubman competitors had tulip diagrams to define the route, as they did for the entire event.

Top seeds, Dan Willan/Niall Frost (Volvo PV544) and Leigh Powley/Brian Goff (Toyota Corolla) tied for the best performance over the section, both picking up 34 seconds of penalties. Paul Crosby/Ali Procter (Porsche 911) were four seconds further back.

Some confusion was caused by the third PC, which was a code board on a triangle. The board was clear to see, but the navigation didn't instruct competitors to go around the triangle. A number of crews lost time as they double checked their plotting; as a consequence, Jason Stone/Dan Stone (Ford Escort) lost over a minute at the next timing point.

There then followed three tests, all on classic Epynt roads. The first started at Four Ways Bridge then ran along the Burma Road. Unfortunately, five crews cleaned the test; Stone/Stone were 12 seconds under the bogey.

Significantly, Willan/Frost dropped time to their main rivals as they were seven seconds over the bogey. Powley/Goff beat the bogey by one second despite a king lead coming lose on their Corolla as they reached the finish line.

Test 2 and 3 were the same test repeated. This started with a run over Deers Leap, the safer way, and used the Rally GB Gravel Road to finish almost where it had started, near to Dixies Corner. The test was just over two miles long.

Once again, the test was cleaned; Test 2 by 13 cars and Test 3 by 15. Car 60, Trevor Anthony Evans/Chris Edwards, in a borrowed MG B GT, put the car into a ditch on Test 2 and had to be towed out.

After these excitements, Crosby/Procter held a lead of four seconds over Willan/Frost. Powley/Goff were three seconds further back. At this point, 13 crews were within a minute of the lead.

Overheating problems were causing Gavin Rogers/Suze Endean (Reliant Scimitar SE5a) to be running down the field; they had to stop to let the car cool before starting tests. They continued and made the finish in 13th place.

Regularity Two was a mammoth; it was over 30 miles in length and included 13 timing points. It started at the northern entrance to Route 60, then ran down and up the Dual Carriageway, before entering Halfway Forest. This led to the Quarry Road, Bamford's, Piccadilly and ended after Mabion Forest. The section was defined by tulip diagrams.

Mick Valentine/John Thornley (Ford Escort) were best over the section, dropping 1m32s, 11s better than Stone/Stone, who were second best. This moved Valentine/Thornley up to third place overall. Crosby/Procter and Willan/Frost were third and fourth best, this extended the former crew's lead over the latter by a further two seconds.

Halfway Forest saw the demise of the Escort of Jon Dunning/Henry Carr. They had been delayed on Test 1 by a cracked rotor arm; this had been fixed, but a broken half shaft brought their rally to an end.

Test 4 used the tracks either side of the Concrete Road. It was 2½ half miles long. It was cleaned by ten crews, with Stone/Stone being 29 seconds inside the bogey.

The lunch halt was taken at North Road Garage, Builth Wells, where a display of Jason Pritchard's rally cars was on show.

At this point Crosby/Procter led Willan/Frost by six seconds, while Valentine/Thornley were third, 11 seconds off the lead.

HRCR Championship leaders, Ken Binstead/Sarah Binstead (MG B), retired at Lunch. A puncture on the second regularity had led to a displaced rear axle, this caused handling issues and tyre damage.

Gremlin Historic Rally 2023

The afternoon session started by moving away from the Ranges. It opened with a test at Craig Goch Farm, near Newbridge. Stone/Stone were fastest moving them up to fourth place overall. Valentine/Thornley were second quickest and this promoted them into joint first place with Crosby/Procter.

The 26 mile long Regularity Three took the route back to Epynt and finished at the Bamfords Triangle. There were six timing points, plus a code board PC. This was a plot 'n bash section.

Willan/Frost put in the best performance, this put them into a lead that they were to maintain to the Finish. Crosby/Procter were 14 seconds behind, keeping them in second place, but Valentine/Thornley added over a minute to their total, mostly with early penalties, and they dropped to fourth behind Stone/Stone.

Test 6 was a re-visit to Deers Leap, and, with marshalling having been tightened, no one beat the bogey on this occasion. The top four crews in the overall standings took the four fastest times, with Stone/Stone again topping the sheets.

The next test was a reverse of Test 1, starting on the Burma Road and finishing at Four Ways Bridge. Sadly, six crews, including the top four, beat the bogey.

The next regularity, like the third, was plot 'n bash, and took the competitors over the New Road; there were seven timing points. Valentine/Thornley were best over the eight miles, this pushed them back up to third, ten seconds behind Crosby/Procter. However, Willan/Frost, third best on the section, had pulled further ahead; their lead was now 23 seconds.

Stephen Owens/Nick Bloxham had held eighth place before Reg 4, however they missed a time control at the Irish Village, this pushed them out of the top ten. Despite this set back, they recovered over the remaining test and regularity to claim the Class M1 win at the Finish.

The final test of the day was a repeat of the fourth test, using the tracks around the Concrete Road. All four top crews, plus three others cleaned it.

The final regularity was back on the public roads, running through Gwenddwr, Erwood and finishing at Boughrood. Fittingly Willan/Frost were best over the 10 mile section, giving them their second successive Gremlin victory.

Crosby/Procter finished 25 second behind the winners to claim the runner up spot, while Valentine/Thornley were third, 53 second off first place. Stone/Stone completed the top four, having added 30 seconds to their total after a miscalculation saw them book in early at a timing point on the fourth regularity. Owen Turner/Graham Raeburn (Mitsubishi Lancer) were fifth, just four seconds off fourth, while John King/Martin Pitt (Toyota MR2) were only six seconds further back.

Richard White/Bernard Northmore (Volvo Amazon) were the clear winners in the Clubman category; they finished five minutes ahead of their nearest class rival.