By Paul Evans
Dai Roberts has won the coveted Colin McRae Memorial Handbrake Trophy on the Jersey Rally, which is an award presented to the driver who has demonstrated the most exuberant driving style on the event.
Better known for his co-driving skills, the 33-year old Carmarthen man is quickly gaining a fierce reputation as a highly-skilled driver too – and another giant-killing performance in his Peugeot 205 GTi, this time on the fast closed road Channel Island event, is one of his biggest achievements behind the wheel yet.
Co-driven for the first time by Dan Petrie, Roberts was an incredible 10th overall at the overnight halt – despite a delay when he came across an accident and also having to finish the night time stages with a rear axle problem.
Having been seeded at car number 37, Roberts climbed to an astonishing eighth overall the next day, before two broken driveshafts eventually saw him finished 13th overall. He did, however, win his class and pick up the highly sought-after hero award.
“I think the Jersey Rally is one of the hardest rallies I have ever done, and it’s great to have finished thirteenth overall and first in class and I’m so chuffed that we came here and enjoyed the event and proved our seeding wrong,” said Roberts.
“It was my first time sat with Dan Petrie and he did an awesome job all weekend. After our overnight top ten position, we were happy to stay there with a big class lead and try to just bring the car home by not driving at one hundred per cent. But when we got up to eighth overall we decided it was time to push, especially as it was raining on stage twenty, but we snapped a driveshaft with a mile to go, so drove out and back to service to get it changed. We had a big push on the next couple of stages too, only for the opposite driveshaft to snap half way through stage twenty three, meaning that we had to drive the whole of stage twenty four on one shaft. And then the impressive bit, as the team changed both shafts in just eleven minutes to keep us in the event.
“To win the Colin McRae Memorial Handbrake award was a shock and a pleasure, and it proved that we really did show our potential on this event. I couldn’t have done this without my sponsors, so a big shout out to Michael Rhys-Ellis Passenger Transport, RNA Plant, Neil Armstrong, West Wales Rally Spares, JD Competition Tyres, Michael Bleackley, Godspeed Brakes, Steve Harkness, Exhausted Fabrications, ISJ Engineering, Kath Brown, B Brown Engines and Fraser Torode for the driveshaft! And most of all, thank you Louise, Jac and Cerys for the awesome support from home as usual.”