Following an eight-week break in the British Rally Championship calendar, Lampeter’s Meirion Evans returned to action in Dumfries, Scotland for round 4 of the BRC – the Scottish Rally.
Eight stages totally more than sixty stage miles would greet Meirion and co-driver Jonathan Jackson as they crossed the border for the Championships’ most Northern event. Despite having not competed on the Scottish since 2013, the Melvyn Evans Motorsport crew were feeling optimistic ahead of tackling the classic stages of Twiglees, Castle O’er and Ae.
Following a successful pre-event Shakedown and Reconnaissance, the young crew opened their account well – settling into fourth place after the opening loop of two stages, just twelve seconds off their nearest rival and just over 20 seconds off the lead. However, it was their time on stage 4 that proved to their rivals that they aren’t ones to be left out of the race at the head of the field, posting a time just nine seconds shy of fastest – proof that the hard work and dedication shown by Meirion, Jonathan and the team after such a difficult start to the season was coming to fruition.
However, as has been typical of their 2016 season to date, the event was to provide one final twist to the tale. With the cancellation of the second pass through their favourite stage in the Ae forest complex, the West Wales Rally Spares, GMF and Clais Aloe Care backed crew made their way to the events final stage – the longest of the Rally. After a strong opening three miles to the ten-mile test, the brakes on the Ford Fiesta R2T failed, leaving the pair with no option but to make their way out of the stage at a reduced pace to save the car from further damage;
“It was a strange day for us, I found it very difficult to get any confidence in these stages, and we struggled for a consistent rhythm all day. I probably underestimated how much the problems we’ve had has set us back but we proved we could be close to the pace on a couple of stages at the weekend despite not taking any risks. We were pretty comfortable in 4th all day, the brake issue on the last stage was disappointing as It was one of the few stages we had a good feeling in. But we will work to bridge the gap on Nicky Grist as we are much more familiar with the stages.”
Despite the drama, the crew held onto their hard earned fourth place to score a crucial 8 points towards their championship tally. Next in the Championship calendar is the Nicky Grist Stages – the UK’s only mixed surface event. Based in Builth Wells, the event is Meirion’s home round and will see the pair take on a day of gravel and a day of tarmac in their bid to battle at the head of the leaderboard;
“I’ve been looking forward to this rally since it was announced back at the end of last year. Hopefully our knowledge of the stages on both days will play into our hands a bit. I have spent time after the Scottish watching the incar picking out what we need to focus on for this rally and how we can improve, The Scottish wasn’t the best rally for us but everyone has those days and I believe we are long overdue a good rally so we will go to Builth ready to attack from the word go and try to put ourselves in the mix which we know we are capable of on our day.”