By Paul Evans
Scottish rally driver Euan Thorburn set fastest time on all six stages to win the Mid-Wales based Rallynuts Stages Rally by 59 seconds in his Ford Focus WRC.
It was a successful event for Welsh co-drivers, with four finishing in the top seven – namely Dai Roberts (second), Carl Williamson (fifth), Patrick Walsh (sixth) and Gareth Parry (seventh).
Over 130 crews took part in the event, which started and finished in the Royal Welsh Showground in Llanelwedd and contained 44 miles of competitive driving in the dry and dusty forests of Hafren, Sweet Lamb and Coed Sarnau.
Whilst Thorburn controlled the event from the front to extend his lead in the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Championship, Northern Ireland driver Mark Donnelly made an impressive return to the sport after two years away by taking second place, with Dai Roberts alongside in his Fiesta R5+. In a close battle, they overtook Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson (Fiesta WRC) on the final stage to secure second place by just five seconds.
A good run to eighth was enough to move Matthew Hirst (Mitsubishi Evo 9) into the joint lead of the Pirelli Motorsport UK Welsh Rally Championship, which he now shares with Tom Llewellin, who finished 18th in an Escort Mk2.
Class winners included Mathew Evans/Daniel Evans (Peugeot 205), Callum Black/Michael Gilbey (MG ZR S1400), Zak Hughes/Tom Wood (Ford Fiesta ST), Scott Faulkner/Gareth Parry (Mitsubishi Evo 9), Perry Gardener/Keaton Williams (Ford Fiesta R2), Bob Vardy/Caron Tomlinson (Ford Fiesta), Andrew Davison/Tom Murphy (Talbot Sunbeam VXR), Andrew Fox/Jaime-Lee Fox (BMW 325), Rex Ireland/Adrian Scadding (Ford Escort) and George Lepley/Tom Woodburn (Hillman Avenger).
There were several leading retirements on the opening stage, including Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy who rolled their Mitsubishi Evo 9, Ian Bainbridge/Jamie Edwards who had engine issues in their Subaru Impreza STi and Ollie Mellors/Max Freeman in their Proton Iriz R5.
Rallynuts Stages Rally – top 10 finishers
1. Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton (Ford Focus WRC)….44mins 00sec
2. Mark Donnelly/Dai Roberts (Ford Fiesta R5)….44mins 59sec
3. Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson (Ford Fiesta WRC)….45mins 04sec
4. Connor McCloskey/Noel O’Sullivan (Ford Fiesta R5+)….45mins 32sec
5. Charles Payne/Carl Williamson (Ford Fiesta)….46mins 10sec
6. Sam Bilham/Patrick Walsh (Ford Fiesta R5)….46mins 26sec
7. Scott Faulkner/Gareth Parry (Mitsubishi Evo 9)….46mins 53sec
8. Matthew Hirst/Declan Dear (Mitsubishi Evo 9)….46mins 54sec
9. Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence (Mitsubishi Evo 9)….46mins 58sec
10. Richard Sykes/Simon Taylor (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9).…47mins 44sec