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Gareth James and Steffan Evans made a sensational debut in the Kololi Beach Club MSA British Historic Rally Championship with a resounding victory on the Harry Flatters Historic Rally (29 July).

The West Wales crew took the lead on the opening stage in their Ford Escort Mk2 and triumphed after 80 miles over the Epynt ranges. “I’ve not done anything for a couple of years and it has been great,” said James.

Category Two victory for Julian Reynolds and Patrick Walsh (Ford Escort Mk1) gave them a five-point lead in the contest for the overall BHRC title. Their title rivals Nick Elliott and Dave Price (Escort Mk2), on Epynt for the first time, led the chase of James and finished second in Category Three.

Meanwhile, Dessie Nutt and Geraldine McBride scored a resounding win in Category One in their Porsche 911.

Category One
Hopes of a day-long Porsche battle in Category One were dashed by lunchtime as local expert Terry Brown and John Stanger-Leathes parked their 911 with a broken gearbox and Rikki Proffitt/Phill Harrison went out after an off-road excursion damaged the suspension of their 911.

Across the stages they did, both Brown and Proffitt had traded times with Nutt/McBride, with Brown fastest on the first long stage by just eight-tenths of a second over Nutt.

With his rivals gone, Nutt could take a measured approach to three long afternoon stages and was still 2m20s clear as the survivors arrived back in Brecon. Into second with a spirited performance went the Ford Anglia of Peter Stimpson and Mark Butler, who were glad to be back on finishing form after two recent retirements. The Devon crew edged Derek Boyd and Simon Hunter back to third with their Porsche 911.

1 Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride (Porsche 911) 1h22m06.1s
2 Peter Stimpson/Mark Butler (Ford Anglia) 1h24m25.6s
3 Derek Boyd/Simon Hunter (Porsche 911) 1h26m38.5s

Category Two
Ernie and Will Graham started one of their strongest runs to date by taking the early lead in Category Two and arrived back at first service with a slender lead over the similar Ford Escort Mk1 of David Stokes/Guy Weaver. Meanwhile, Reynolds was immediately on the attack only to hit gearbox trouble on the first two short stages. Then the gear lever broke on stage three, the first run over the New Road, and he had to stop and try and find a gear. Losing around a minute, Reynolds got back to service for the Melvyn Evans crew to change the box in 15 minutes.

Reynolds absolutely flew over the three long afternoon stages and clawed back more than a minute to take a decisive lead as Stokes and Graham battled for the runner-up place in the category. “I’m really happy with that result, especially on Epynt,” said Reynolds after a very important victory.

“I felt really rough,” said Stokes who was unwell for much of the afternoon, and the time dropped left him fighting to fend off Graham. Once a couple of timing queries were resolved, Stokes was confirmed in second, just six seconds up on Graham after a great performance from young Will Graham on his first event of Epynt.

Wayne Bonser and Richard Aston won class C3 by 1m20s over the battling duo of Ian Drummond/Hugh Kent and Jeremy Wells/Martin Saunders. It was very close for second after a big attack by Wells on the final stage pulled back 11s of the 14s deficit. Right in contention until they rolled on the Burmah Road were Mark Holmes and Tony Lindsay. Damage was not too great, but their attacking run was over.

Maximum scorer in class C4 was the Porsche 911 of Peter McDowell and Derek Davies.

1 Julian Reynolds/Patrick Walsh (Ford Escort Mk1) 1h13m49.7s
2 David Stokes/Guy Weaver (Ford Escort Mk1) 1h15m01.0s
3 Ernie Graham/Will Graham (Ford Escort Mk1) 1h15m07.5s

Category Three
On their first outing in the BHRC, James and Evans were mighty from the very start and set a stunning pace on what was only Gareth’s second rally in two years. They took the lead immediately and never looked back but it nearly went wrong for them at the very end with they had only fourth gear for much of the final stage. James dropped half a minute, but still had 25s in hand over Nick Elliott and Dave Price, who turned in a cracking performance first time out on asphalt. Even with the car waving a wheel due to being too soft, second was a great result.

Well in contention until mid afternoon were Tomas Davies and Eurig Davies, but they went out on the penultimate stage after hitting a chicane and damaging the steering. Instead, into third went Phil and Mick Squires (Escort Mk2) after the twins suffered somewhat with a lowly seeding. They edged Epynt virgins Tim Freeman and Paul Bardon back to fourth.

Class D3 runners Graham Waite and Gill Cotton were unlucky to go out on the last stage when their Opel Ascona broke its propshaft.

1 Gareth James/Steffan Evans (Ford Escort Mk2) 1h12m34.9s
2 Nick Elliott/Dave Price (Ford Escort Mk2) 1h12m59.4s
3 Phil Squires/Mick Squires (Ford Escort Mk2) 1h16m49.7s

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