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Gremlin Historic Rally

Sponsored by Old Forge Garage

Brecon Motor Club

11th/12th May 2024

Gremlin Historic Rally 2024
Winners: John Haygarth/Andy Pullan (Opel Kadett Rallye)
Photograph: © Chris Huish

Organiser: Brecon Motor Club

Date: 11th/12th May 2024

Clerk of the Course: Martin Leonard

Route: 126 Miles (7 Regularities, 10 Tests)

Starters: 64

Round Three of the HRCR Clubman Championship took contenders to Mid Wales and the Gremlin Historic. As usual the Epynt Ranges made up a substantial, but not exclusive, part of the route.

An innovation for 2024 was the introduction of a Saturday evening section, consisting of a test and a regularity, largely on the Glanusk Estate. The organisers had to make a quick adjustment to the start of the reg after the landowner had forgotten that he was holding a birthday party for 150 children in his farmyard.

The Gremlin also introduced a Joker system for the event; this reduced a crew's largest lateness penalty at any Timing Point to zero.

Darell Staniforth/Henry Carr were quickest on the opening test, stopping the clock a second ahead of John Haygarth/Andy Pullan and Dan Darkin/Nick Darkin.

With the opening part of the reg edited out, the section started near Bwlch and ran through Cwmdu and Waunfach, with the finish on the edge of Llangors; there were a total of six timing points.

Haygarth/Pullan put in the best performance over the reg, four seconds ahead of Ian Crammond/Matthew Vokes and Philip Wood/Kelvin Phipps. This gave the Opel crew the overnight lead; Wood/Phipps were two seconds behind.

Mick Valentine/John Thornley had been late starting the reg as their Escort was overheating. They survived and were in 20th place at the overnight halt at Llangors Activity Centre. Less fortunate were Paul Crosby/Ali Procter, a severe impact with a pot hole had resulted in a fatal oil leak for their Porsche 911. They were forced to withdraw.

Also out at this early stage was the Alfa 33 of Simon Mellings/Richard Morris which had a head gasket fail, while Andrew Buzzard/Robb Lynn had the throttle cable break on their Escort.

The entry regrouped on Sunday morning at Brecon, with proceedings opening with a test at the Cattle Market. Haygarth/Pullan, Valentine/Thornley and Darkin/Darkin shared honours here.

The first regularity of the day was 30 miles long, with seven timing points and nine speed changes. It started almost immediately after the test finish and then headed towards Cray Reservoir and Glasfynydd Forest, with a tricky timing point at Cwmbrynich Farm - Valentine/Thornley and Staniforth/Carr had to use their Jokers here. Darkin/Darkin were best by four seconds on the reg, and, thanks to the Joker reducing their 51 second penalty at the first timing point on Saturday to zero, now took the lead, two seconds in front of Haygarth/Pullan.

This reg saw the retirement of Stephen Owens/Nick Bloxham, their Porsche 356B coming to a halt with a failed clutch.

The action then moved on to Epynt for the first time, with a mile long test at Black Hut. Once again, Staniforth/Carr were fastest, with Fowle/Pickering one second behind; this allowed the latter crew to close the gap to the leaders to eleven seconds. Darkin/Darkin and Haygarth/Pullan were now tied in first place. Peter Higton/Phil Savage, who had been in third place, fell out of the top ten in the tight contest after picking up a cone fault.

Regularity 3 started on the Burma Road, Bamfords and the Cilieni Link to finish at Piccadilly; there were five timing points and it was all timed at 30mph. Gavin Rogers/Suze Endean were best with Haygarth/Pullan one second behind. This was enough to put the Opel pairing back into an eleven second lead.

Test 4 was a complex slalom trail in the Quarry, where Haygarth/Pullan were quickest and extended their lead to 18 seconds. Darkin/Darkin, in second place, were, in turn, six seconds ahead of Fowle/Pickering.

Fowle/Pickering moved into second place as they took fastest time on both Test 5 and Test 6, meanwhile Haygarth/Pullan were penalised for a cone fault on Test 6. These factors left 12 seconds between the two contenders.

The final regularity of the frantic opening session started in Halfway Forest and finished near the Coffee Halt at Llandovery. Darkin/Darkin and Nigel Woof/Sally Woof shared the top honours over the section. Woof/Woof went on finish as the top Expert crew at the Finish. Ken Binstead/Sarah Binstead, who had been delayed by throttle cable problems on Saturday, were one second behind the best on this section.

Gremlin Historic Rally 2024

At the halt, Haygarth/Pullan led Fowle/Pickering by 16 seconds, while Darkin/Darkin were 9 seconds further back, leading Staniforth/Carr by eleven seconds. A notable performance was being put in by the leading Novices, Russell Smith/Dan Harrison, who were in eighth place overall.

Regularity Five was a 15 mile section in the lanes to the north of Llandovery; there were three timing points and three Passage Controls. Top dogs here were Roger Fildes/Iain Tullie, who dropped just two seconds; this moved them up to fourth as Darkin/Darkin, having arrived over a minute early at ITC 5/2, dropped to eighth.

The lunch halt at Beulah gave crews a lengthy stop, with the scores showing that Fowle/Pickering were now just ten seconds behind Haygarth/Pullan.

The afternoon started with a further regularity that took the route back onto Epynt. It was a mammoth section; 25 miles in length with nine timing points. Haygarth/Pullan were best over it and took 17 seconds out of Fowle/Pickering. The leaders were almost a minute ahead of third placed Files/Tullie, who had moved past Staniforth/Carr.

The four morning tests were now repeated, although, in the case of three of them, in the opposite direction to the first runs. Haygarth/Pullan were fastest on three of them, extending their lead to 59 seconds.

Paul Dyas/Martyn Taylor managed to land their Volvo PV544 on top a tree stump on Test 8, Dixies 2. They were finally extracted after the test had closed and then missed the following two tests, before completing the final reg. They were eventually classified in 43rd position.

The event finished with one more regularity. This was 12 miles long with three timing points. Rogers/Endean once again put in the best performance and they finished in seventh place overall.

Haygarth/Pullan were third best over the section and came home 53 seconds clear of the field. This was a notable win for Pullan, as he had won the opening round of the Clubman Championship as a driver.

A major wrong slot meant that Fowle/Pickering arrived over three minutes late at the final timing point of the event, however the Joker saved them from major damage and they took the runner up spot.

Staniforth/Carr had moved back into third place on Test 8 and held on to it, ending nine seconds ahead of a recovering Valentine/Thornley, while Fildes/Tullie were a similar margin behind in fifth.

Smith/Harrison maintained their excellent performance throughout the afternoon and finished as top Novices in sixth place overall.

Gremlin Historic Rally 2024
Third Placed: Darell Staniforth/Henry Carr (Toyota Corolla)
Photograph: © Chris Huish