Mark Kelly

Mark Kelly and Dafydd Evans stormed to victory on the Tour of Epynt. Pic: Nigel Pratt, Black Mountains Media.

Kelly’s Hero Performance On The Tour Of Epynt


By Simon Gronow

Mark Kelly put in a hero’s performance of the Tour of Epynt, winning the sixth round of the 2023 J D Tyres Welsh Tarmacadam Championship in his Škoda Fabia R5.

Co-driven by Dafydd Evans for the first time, Kelly and his rivals faced seven special stages over the daunting military range above Sennybridge, with the first four stages held in the dry before the heavens opened and the remaining three long tests were run in extremely wet conditions.

After finishing second overall on the event last year in a Ford Fiesta R5, Kelly found the set up of his Škoda perfect for the mixed conditions, and was fastest on the first six stages before easing off on the final stage to record a convincing first outright win on Epynt.

Continuing his recent run of good form, Chris Simmons was second of the registered Welsh contestants to finish.

He narrowly missed out on a top 10 placing, yet moves into the lead of the Welsh Tarmacadam Championship following his run of good finishes.

Another strong finish resulted in third drivers’ points for Ian Godney, who now moves up to third in the up to two-litre class in his Suzuki Swift F2000 kit Car.

Having damaged their usual engine, Leighton Smith/Karen Phelps were forced to run with a less powerful unit in their Peugeot 205 GTi – but in the wet conditions this didn’t matter so much as they took another class win.

With their Darrian T90 back to full working order after retirement on the Merlin Stages, Russell Davies/Richard Suter were next to finish.

They now lie second overall in the Welsh Tarmacadam Championship – having overtaken Richard Merriman/Kath Curzon, who retired their Darrian late on in the day.

With Christian Howells unable to start the event, car preparer Ian Evans drove his car for the day – with his son Dan taking maximum co-driver points.

Meanwhile, Kevin Davies/Sion Rowlands took maximum class points in their Peugeot 207.

Young up-and-coming co-driver Lucie Gutteridge teamed up with Paul Jenkins.

After making a slower start than they would have liked, the pair sped up on the later stages in their Ford Escort to score maximum class points.

The result allows Gutteridge to maintain her overall lead the Welsh Tarmacadam Championship co-drivers’ section.

Phil Turner failed to finish when his Škoda Fabia R5 suffered differential problems.

It would also be a short day for Malcolm and Rhys Jones ,who had won the previous Dixies Challenge on Epynt.

Their Darrian T90 GTR suffered an engine misfire shortly after leaving the start, forcing them into retirement.

Following his massive accident on the Dixies Challenge, Damian Cole wheeled out his new Citroën C3 Rally 2 for only the second time, with he and co-driver Paul Spooner spending the day trying out different settings as Cole acclimatised to the car.

Second overall was a fine result, with Cole taking maximum King of Epynt Challenge points.

Phil Lloyd/Dean Wiltshire finished in the top 10 once again and having secured maximum class points in their Ford Escort Mk2 now lead the Challenge outright.

They were followed home by Leighton Smith/Karen Phelps in their Peugeot 205 GTi, with Peter Jones/Gareth Davies finishing fourth in their Triumph TR7 V8.


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