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Rali Bro Caron

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Lampeter & District Motor Club

2nd/3rd March 2024

Rali Bro Caron 2024
Winners: Chris Richmond Hand/Shaun Richards (Ford Escort)
Photograph: © Adrian Convery Photography

Organiser: Lampeter & District Motor Club

Date: 2nd/3rd March 2024

Clerk of the Course: Dafydd Evans & Cadog Davies

Route: 110 Miles (Map 146)

Base: Lampeter

Starters: 90

A number of reserves had to return home without a run as a full entry of 90 cars took the start on the Rali Bro Caron. The field was flagged away from under the arch of the Black Lion in the heart of the organising club's home town.

The organisers had laid out a demanding route, which eventually provided 15 droppers, even for the leading crews. To add to the challenge there was snow and ice, plus mist, on the higher parts of the course.

The first competitive section was just to the west of Lampeter; it was a six minuter which looped around Maestir Farm. It was a deceptively easy introduction to what was going to be a tough event. Every crew, who completed it, cleaned the section. However, not everyone got to SF2; Mark Lennox/Ian Beamond only reached the first give way junction before the diff failed on their Escort and they were out less than a mile into the rally.

The second piece of competition was three standard sections in succession. It started at Cribyn and ran in a north-north-west direction to finish at Llwyncelyn. SS3 to TC4 and TC5 to SF6 were challenging, while TC4 to TC5 was relaxed and took the route through Dihewyd. Everyone dropped time on the two tight parts.

Fastest to TC4 were Stefan 'DR' Davies/Kieran Price; they were one second ahead of John Davies/Eurig Davies (Vauxhall Astra), with Andy Davies/Dai Roberts (Subaru Impreza) four seconds further back.

A slight off into a field had lost Ieuan Evans/Dafydd-Sion Lloyd (Ford Escort) time on the run up to TC4; they were 13 seconds behind Davies/Price at that control, however they made up this deficit at TC6; they were fastest to the finish control and now shared the lead with Davies/Price. Davies/Davies were in third, but eleven seconds behind the leaders. Chris Richard Hand/Shaun Richards (Ford Escort) were in fourth, four seconds off third.

Reigning Welsh Champions, Arwel Hughes Jones/Dylan John Williams (Ford Escort), were in eighth place, but went no further as they were disqualified for failing to stop at a give way. Two other crews were thrown out for the same offence later in the event. Also out at this point were Lewis Morgan/Marc Hughes, whose Escort broke a rotor arm.

The surviving competitors then moved to a string of five standard sections which took the route back towards Lampeter. The sector started at Llanarth with a tight four minuter, which used the track through Blaenwern.

Evans/Lloyd and Davies/Price matched each other's time at TC8 and were therefore still tied, however this tie was now for second place as Hand/Richard were fastest by 18 seconds through the track and took the lead. Davies/Davies were in fourth, 14 seconds off first place.

Almost everyone cleaned the straightforward run to Mydroilyn, but the thrilling battle for the lead resumed on the next section, a four minuter through Moelcwm. Davies/Price were fastest and were now back in first place, but were sharing it with Hand/Richards. These two crews were three second ahead of Evans/Lloyd and seven in front of Davies/Davies.

Disaster then struck for Davies/Price; the dry sump belt snapped on their Escort and they got no further.

There was no let up of pressure as the next four minuter, through Moyddin Fawr, was also tight. Hand/Richards were fastest, but only by one second from Evans/Lloyd, while Davies/Davies were only another second further back. The three battling crews were only separated by nine seconds in the overall standings.

The next section was a demanding two miler, starting at Cwrtnewydd and finishing near Blaenhirbant-uchaf. Evans/Lloyd were quickest here and this drew them level at the front with Hand/Richards. However this was a final flourish from Evans/Lloyd, their Escort's throttle cable melted on the next section and they withdrew.

The final section before the halfway halt started to the east of Llanybyther and touched the northern edge of Brechfa Forest before passing through Esgairdawe. Davies/Davies took the best time to the final timing point, 24 seconds ahead of Hand/Richards; this gave the Astra pairing a two second lead as crews arrived at Petrol, which was taken at the Checkpoint Service Station at Harford.

This final section had been unkind to Richard Jerman/Alan James (Ford Escort), they lost almost two minutes after picking up a puncture. This dropped them from eighth to twelfth position.

While the top two cars were separated by just two seconds, there was a 52 seconds gap between first and third, that position being held by Andy Davies/Dai Roberts (Subaru Impreza).

At this point the Expert Class was being led by the Escort of Matthew Davies/Dion Lewis; they were in eighth place overall, but they weren't to make the Finish, a mechanical problem stopping them in the second half.

The Mazda MX5 of Owain Rowlands/Jamie Mills had been delayed by locking brakes soon after the start. Having fixed the issue, the pair then struggled to stay within their maximum lateness until a bent top arm put them out of the event just before Petrol.

Rali Bro Caron 2024

The route looped to the south after the restart, beginning at Hafod Bridge and almost touching Talley before heading back up the map to finish near Pumsaint. This took crews from SS20 to SF26, with even the top cars dropping time at three TCs in the section.

Davies/Davies were fastest to TC21 and extended their lead by four seconds, while most crews added less than a minute to their totals.

TC22 was at the not-as-map crossroads junction at 686.5 329.75, this has caused some major errors on Bro Carons of the past. In 2024 it was Andy Davies/Dai Roberts who were caught out and took a wrong depart from the control. They decided to retire as a result. Kevin Kerr/Daniel Jones (Ford Escort), who had been fourth at Petrol, lost time here as they initially took the wrong route. They were eventually to finish in eighth place overall.

This section also saw the demise of Rob Stephens/Robbie Pugh. They had held seventh place at the halfway halt, but were forced out when the exhaust manifold broke on the Escort. Also out at this point was the VW Golf GTi of Mark 'GT' Roberts/Dylan Jenkins, which was stopped by a failed alternator.

By SF26 Davies/Davies held a lead of six seconds over Hand/Richards, these two crews were almost two minutes clear of the remainder of the field.

Two competitive sectors now remained, one lengthy one and a short finale. The first ran from SS27 to SF33. This was in the classic Bro Caron/Sarn Helen lanes to the east of Lampeter, going almost as far as Llandewi Brefi, before finishing at Cellan.

Both of the leading crews dropped time at TCs 29 and 31, with Davies/Davies being quickest at both and extending their lead to ten seconds. However, the Astra was struggling with a lack of brakes, and the leaders had to slacken their pace as the route reached Cellan. The result was that Hand/Richards were 17 seconds quicker to SF33 and took over first place.

The final section was a four minuter using the tight lanes to the west of Cwmann around Parc-y-rhos. Hand/Richards took another second out of Davies/Davies to come home eleven seconds in front.

Nick Bloxham had been looking to make it a hattrick of wins over three weekends, but had to be content with third place as he and driver, George Williams, finished almost two minutes off first place, but over a minute ahead of fourth placed Malcolm 'Tar' Jones/Rhys Jones (Peugeot 206 GTi).

The Expert Class was won by Osian Jones/Llyr Davies (Nissan Micra) who finished in seventh place overall. They had had to carry out extensive repairs to the car at Petrol and ran the second half without a sump guard. The driver is the son of two-time Bro Caron winner, Gareth 'Gog' Jones.

Carwyn 'Bol' Jones/Steff Thomas (Proton Satria) had led the Semi-Expert Class for most of the event and came home over two minutes ahead of their nearest class rival. Thomas Jones, navigated by former Bro Caron Clerk of the Course, George Eadon, won the Novice Class in his Peugeot 206.

It had been a tough night, almost half of the starters failed to get to the end; there were 47 finishers.