Torrential rain and exceptionally slippery roads contributed to Meirion Evans’ suffering a rare retirement at the weekend, as his trip to the Aarova Rally in Belgium came to an end on stage four.
The 25-year old Welshman was eager to start his first rally since February, and despite being out of The Scan Station-backed Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 for such a long time his split times, set against the very best local drivers, were very good.
But what was forecast as light rain for the East Flanders region turned into an unrelenting day-long downpour, making the narrow asphalt roads around the town of Oudenaarde almost impassable at rally speed, such was the amount of water and mud on them.
After such a long time out of a rally car, all that Meirion wanted was a clean run to the finish to get back in the groove, but it wasn’t to be.
After issues on the opening two stages, the weather deteriorated – so much so that he and co-driver Michael Gilbey could do little to prevent the Melvyn Evans Motorsport-run car from slipping off the road and out of the event on stage four.
“Unfortunately we retired on stage four of the Aarova Rally when we slid wide on a right hander and got stuck,” said Meirion.
“There was no damage to the car, but it was a bad day on the whole as we had to drive on a wheel rim in stage one and on a puncture in stage two. Despite this we were still quite close to the Belgian regulars on the second stage.
“Awful conditions in stage three made it impossible to get any rhythm and to enjoy the driving with the road conditions getting worse.
“It was quite an impossible rally really. We couldn’t do much in that weather, and the risks were so high for no gain in the conditions at this time of year.
“A big thanks nonetheless to the boys and to Michael Gilbey for stepping in on the notes, and to all my supporters. It was quite nice to be back even though we didn’t have a clean stage.”