Dolgellau star Osian Pryce and co-driver Dale Furniss secured a dominant victory at this weekend’s North Wales Rally Services Rally North Wales at the wheel of their Ford Fiesta R5.
Fresh from a podium spot at the opening round of the MSA British Rally Championship, Pryce was fastest on each of the event’s six stages to win by a margin of over one minute 20 seconds from second placed Euan Thorburn and Paul Beaton in a similar machine.
The pairing made the long trip from Scotland to contest the event to gain seat time for their British and Scottish Championship campaigns. South Wales Subaru pilot Dylan Davies and co-driver Llion Williams took the final podium spot in third.
Nick Elliott and Dave Price was another crew to stay out front all day long with a dominant performance in the Historic event to take the Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship honours from Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke, both crews using the crowd pleasing Ford Escort MK2.
With heavy overnight rain, the forests of Dyfi and Gartheiniog proved to be tough going for many of the 100 crews which started the Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire Car Club organised event. The morning loop comprised three stages and the first test of the day would be the longest at just over 11 miles.
Pryce would open a huge 20 second advantage over Thorburn in the opener despite the quick release steering wheel coming adrift part way through the stage. This lead would never be relinquished and the Gwynedd driver stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the day to cross the ceremonial finish in Dolgellau with a well-deserved overall victory and maximum points in the Pirelli MSA Welsh Rally Championship.
“We didn’t come here specifically for the win but it’s great to have taken victory on an event that’s so close to my doorstep,” said Pryce at the finish. “It’s only my second outing in the car, so we still have plenty to work on but we are moving in the right direction pace wise.
“Doing the whole rally on just four tyres meant we lost a little grip towards the end but we had enough of a lead to back off a bit on that last one. It’s been a great day.”
Thorburn felt uneasy during the opening loop in the morning, citing a poor tyre choice for the loss of time to Pryce. The Scotsman bolted on a different tyre pattern in the afternoon and instantly found a better pace but by that time, Pryce was into the distance and second was as good as Thorburn could manage.
Davies fought with a stuck flat shift in the first three tests but still challenged Thorburn’s second spot on a number of stages. He brought the Impreza home in third ahead of David Howells and Jamie Edwards in their older shape Subaru in fourth. Ieuan Rowlands and Emyr Hall were the first two wheel drive runners in a fine fifth spot in their Ford Escort MK2.
The battle for historic honours was equally as thrilling with Ford Escort pilot Elliott taking a huge chunk of time from pre-event favorite Pritchard in the opening stage. Pritchard admitted to not having a good feeling in the car on the opener and the times reflected that early on. A puncture in the second stage did little to help his confidence but the Builth Wells driver later found his pace to take second spot.
Joe Price and Chris Brooks were set for a Historic podium but their rally ended when they put their Escort on its side on stage four, which allowed Devon’s Rudi Lancaster and Guy Weaver to step up and claim the final podium place in third.
Former British Champion and two-time event winner David Llewellin returned to the stages in a Suzuki Swift courtesy of the Swift Shining Stars series. The Welshman had a little less power than he was used to but he and co-driver Carl Williamson enjoyed the event to take the Swift win by three minutes from Tom Delaney and Joe Cruttenden.
More information on the event and full results are available on the event website www.rallynorthwales.co.uk