James Williams Lifts ‘Massive Weight Off Shoulders’ After Claiming First Rally Win

James Williams in his Orange Amplifiers Hyundai i20 N Rally2. Pic Russ Otway.

James Williams Lifts ‘Massive Weight Off Shoulders’ After Claiming First Rally Win

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By Paul Evans

James Williams admitted he lifted “a ‘massive weight off my shoulders’ after scoring his first overall rally win.

The Newcastle Emlyn driver achieved what he’s been aiming to do for a while in style, by dominating last weekend’s Manx National Rally.

Co-driven by Ross Whittock, Williams led the three leg, two day, 15 stage, 127 stage mile event from start to finish in his Orange Amplifiers Hyundai i20 N Rally2 – and in winning the famous rally extends his lead at the top of the Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship standings.

After setting the fastest time on all four of Leg 1’s stages, James went into the afternoon break leading by 48.4 seconds – and over the course of Friday evening’s stages he extended that advantage to 1min 17.9secs by the overnight halt.

It hadn’t been all plain sailing however, as he’d had to top up the brake fluid system with water and Lucozade after suffering brake problems on the day’s final two stages.

The dry and fast conditions continued on Saturday, where James extended his lead as the longest leg of the event progressed – eventually winning the event by an incredible 4mins 04.5secs.

He now has a perfect Protyre Asphalt score of 90 points after three rounds.

“It’s been a solid weekend to be fair and I’m over the moon with the feeling I’ve had in the car,” said Williams.

“I had the confidence to push on the stages which I hadn’t really had before but which has been coming all year.

“Everything worked well. Ross did an amazing job, the team has done a fantastic job, all my partners and family back home supporting us – it’s just a massive weight off my shoulders to get my first win.

“That was the biggest thing for me – I really needed to tick that box.

‘I said I wanted to make a mark on British rallying this year and this result shows that we’re going in the right direction.”

Steve Wood knows that if you keep out of trouble then a good result is likely to follow, and the 2022 Protyre Asphalt champion did just that with a textbook drive in his Sligo Pallets Citroën C3 Rally2.

Steve Wood Steve Wood came home second in his Citroen. Pic Russ Otway.

Together with Kenny Hull, the Aberystwyth driver finished second overall to rocket him from sixth to second in the Protyre Asphalt standings.

Former Manx winner Hugh Hunter returned to the event after his big accident last year and was bravely up to speed very quickly.

The Ruthin driver dropped from second to fifth on the final Friday night stage after spinning on some loose gravel, hitting a wall and removing most of the lights on his Robert Hunter & Son Tarmac/Lewis & Hunter Contracting Fiesta Rally2.

But he and co-driver Rob Fagg had a good run on Saturday to race back to third overall.

Triple British rally champion Matt Edwards was driving coaching Sam Touzel from the co-driver’s seat – and they finished 10th overall in a Fiesta Rally2 on what was the driver’s first visit to the Isle of Man.

Aled Wyn Morgans/Ian Taylor also had a good run, missing out on a top 10 finish by just 7.4 seconds in their Aberystwyth Motorsport Escort Mk2.

Hugh Hunter Hugh Hunter in his Robert Hunter & Son Tarmac/Lewis & Hunter Contracting Fiesta Rally2.

Carmarthenshire’s Dai Roberts, the 2022 Protyre Asphalt co-driver’s champion, was navigating for Neil Roskell.

They crashed out of third place on Friday night’s penultimate stage, but were able to repair the Fiesta Rally2 and had a good run to Protyre Asphalt points on the Saturday.

Wayne Jones/Dafydd Evans retired their Darrian T90 GTR on SS4 with engine problems whilst lying 10th overall and within 15 seconds of the 2WD lead.

Philip Jones (co-driven by Dale Gibbons) was on inspired form on Friday, scoring maximum class B12 points in his Escort Mk2 – and the Llantrisant driver leads the class despite retiring on Saturday.

Mold’s Paul Evans (co-driven by Callum Young) retired his Escort Mk2 on Friday but came back strong on the next day to finish second in class, while Pwllheli’s Peredur Davies (co-driven by Tomi Williams) won his class on Saturday in his Peugeot 208 R2.

Alternator and other problems prevented Will Mains (co-driven by Stephen Christian) from scoring his usual giant-killing result, although the Llandysul driver did finish the event in his Vauxhall Nova.

Will Rowlands/Emyr Hall were presented with the Dynamic Fluids Best Presented Car Award before the start, which set the tone for what became a fantastic event in their gorgeous Escort RS1800 Mk2.

After a fitness push in which he’d lost three stone in weight, the Denbigh driver won class H3b on Friday and then finish second on Saturday to take the class and BTRDA Historic Asphalt Cup lead.

Will Rowlands Will Rowlands was on inspired form in his historic spec Escort Mk2. Pic Russ Otway.

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