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Rali Menai

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Caernarvonshire & Anglesey Motor Club

11th June 2023

Rali Menai 2023
Winners: Malcolm Jones/Rhys Jones (Darrian T90 GTR)
Photograph: Islwyn's Motorsport Photography

Organiser: Caernarvonshire & Anglesey Motor Club

Date: 11th June 2023

Clerk of the Course: James Robertson

Stages: 8 (55 Stage Miles)

Venue: Trac Mon

Starters: 71

The Rali Menai was Caernarvonshire & Anglesey MC's first single day stage rally at Trac Mon since the demise of the Slater Stages fifteen years ago. The new event was a round of both the Welsh and ANWCC Championship; it attracted 71 starters.

The event was to be notable for the number of retirements amongst the leading runners. The winning crew were the only one of the top 11 starters to make the Finish. A number succumbed to transmission problems, which may have been due to the dry conditions, which gave the surface a good deal of grip.

Top seeds Damian Cole/Sion Cunniff were one of the first to hit trouble; halfway around the first stage the brake pedal on the Fiesta R5 went to the floor. They persisted until SS3, but, without a remedy in sight, then withdrew.

The event had been billed as a battle between the two Jones brothers from West Wales, Malcolm and Wayne. Both drive Darrian T90 GTRs and both had recently won WAMC Tarmac Championship rallies. Unfortunately, there was no be no fraternal fight as Wayne's car developed gearbox issues before the event and he didn't make the journey to Anglesey.

Malcolm, chasing WAMC series points, took fastest time on SS1, although only by three seconds from the similar car of Jason Wilson/Lee Wilson. However, the Wilson Darrian was stopped by gearbox gremlins soon afterwards. This same problem stopped the Darrian T90 of Richard Merriman/Kath Curzon on SS1.

This was to set the pattern as the front runners fell by the wayside. Bob Fowden/Mathias Fowden's Subaru Impreza and Rob Tout/Terry Martin's Fiesta R5 both stopped at the same spot on SS3, the former with a puncture, the latter with fuel feed issues. Neither continued.

This allowed Jones/Jones to canter away, taking fastest time on seven of the eight stages and finishing over two minutes ahead of the field. Having missed the opening round, this gave the pair their second top score in the Welsh Championship.

The Stockport pairing of Bertie Morton/Mark Walker had been in seventh place on SS1 and then progressed up the leader board as those ahead of them disappeared. When Julian Hope withdrew his Proton Iriz at the lunch halt, Morton moved into a clear second place, which he held to the end.

The result of the day came from Sion Jones/Caian Williams; they brought their Saxo into third place. Troubled by a throttle issue on the opening stages, they set a stunning pace to win the 1600cc class by over four minutes. Despite this success Jones hadn't been happy with his tyres; "I can't find one that's hard enough" he said, as he cast his envious eye over those on a nearby forklift truck.

Daniel Poole had challenged Jones initially, but retired on SS6 after sliding on gravel thrown up by an earlier car and hitting a tyre barrier. "They shouldn't use f*****g wagon tyres" Poole opined as he ruefully surveyed the heavily damaged Saxo.

Fourth place was taken by the Escort of Dave Allmark/Dave Toroishell, who just held off a hard charging the Peugeot 205 of Tony Palfrey/Zak Linham, they ended just two seconds behind to take fifth, after being in seventh place with two stages to go. Prior to this, they had been in a tight battle with Poole/Coombes, before the Citroen's demise.

Martin Rossiter/Ian Davis had been originally entered in the Historic Class in their glorious Shell Oils liveried Escort RS1800, however there was a lack of entries in that category, so the pair were moved into to 2000cc Class. They finished in sixth place just seven seconds behind Palfrey/Linham. Although they had class rivals, Mei Davies/Dylan Thomas (Ford Escort), only two seconds further back.

In the Under 1400cc Class the initial pace was set by the Vauxhall Corsa of Keith Daniels/Andrew Millington, but they were overhauled in the afternoon by Gareth Roberts/Harry Stubbs in their Citroen AX, who came home almost two minutes ahead of their rivals to win the class.

Pre-event class favourites Mydrian Harries/Russell Thompson had challenged Daniels/Millington initially, but they went out with a failed wheel bearing on SS3. Jack Edwards/Martyn Quant had also been in the hunt for a class award, but their Nova dropped a valve on the final test and they crawled to the Finish.

There were 32 retirements in total, with only 39 crews making it to the final control.

Plans are now underway for a closed road stage to be included in the 2024 Rali Menai.