By Paul Evans
Welsh competitors didn’t have much luck on the Rally van Wervik, with several of the top crews retiring early with mechanical problems and mishaps.
Jason Pritchard has dropped to second place in the Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally Championship after retiring his North Road Garage Ford Fiesta S2000 with clutch problems. It’s the 30-year old Builth Wells driver’s first non-finish of the season, and with five scores from six rallies to count, he remains very much a top title contender.
For Damian Cole, however, a severe misfire with his Get Connected Ford Fiesta WRC caused a second non-finish from three rounds, leaving the Abergavenny driver 15th in the points table. It’s not impossible for him to win a seventh Asphalt Championship title this year, although it’s now looking unlikely as he and Wrexham co-driver Jamie Edwards rethink their rally plans for the rest of 2018.
Swansea’s Phil Turner had enjoyed a stunning start to the season and arrived in Belgium third overall in the series – ahead of much more powerful four-wheel drive cars in his Toovey Race Engines/ST Motorsport-backed Escort Mk2. Having overheated his tyres on the opening stage, a suspected broken track control arm saw him and Pontypridd co-driver Ian Meakin understeer off the road and into a ditch on SS2, ripping the front right wheel clean off. Turner has dropped to sixth, but remains the top-placed two-wheel driver competitor.
Lloyd Morgan/Marc Clatworthy were leading the 1400 class when their Euro Tech Roofing/Dynamic Fluids-backed Nissan Micra stopped just six miles from the end of the 60 stage mile event.
It wasn’t all bad news, as Tywyn’s Max Freeman now leads the Asphalt Rally Championship Co-drivers’ points table after guiding Wayne Sisson’s Mitsubishi to a third-place points finish in Belgium, in what has so far been a very consistently fast and trouble-free season.
On their first event together, Yan Griffiths was navigating for young Jerseyman Ed Fossey, the reigning BTRDA 1400 Champion, in a hired Peugeot 208. They had an excellent run, with the Church Village co-driver topping the R2 class.