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PLAINS_RALLY_13_00005_webFirst stage maladies aboard his Swift Group, Millers Oils, North Wales Honda and Group B Motorsport Mitsubishi Evo 9, threatened to curtail Colwyn Bay’s Matt Edwards Plains Rally at the weekend, but a strong and encouraging comeback through the afternoon brought he and Co-Driver Will Rogers right back into contention.

Round 4 of the BTRDA Rally series would take in 45 miles of Mid-Wales stages in generally dry condition, and after a non appearence on the previous round, Edwards was in determined mood following a host of improvements made by Deeside’s Group B Motorsport on rolling road sessions to the mapping of his C1-R Built, GPM supplied engine. However, immediately off the start-line of the opening 11 mile test, the crew knew they were in trouble, with intermittent boost and misfire problems, and overheating issues.

Despite these woes, Edwards still managed to post a top 10 overall stage time, but frantic checks following the stage could do little to diagnose the fault. A top up of the cars cooling system helped the situation in stage two, Dyfi, helping the pair to a more customary top 5 stage time but still hampered by intermittent glitches.

“Its been a frustrating opening pair of stages, especially given our game plan was to have a real go on the opener, despite being out of the car for a couple of months,’ said Edwards of his disappointing morning.

During allocated service time it was discovered the engine had used all of its coolant, and would be the likely cause of the opening stage overheating and misfire problems, but with no sign of an external leak, there was little the North Wales Honda, AVS and Group B Motorsport Team could do apart from add water where possible to keep the car going.

The subsequent Hafren stage went far more smoothly, recording a time just 5 seconds down on fastest overall, indicating the potential of the Hankook Tyres shod car. Despite the possible head gasket issues being managed, significant performance gains were evident on-board, with Edwards revelling in the handling charactieristics as the below footage shows.

SS3 Hafren South

At main service in Sweet Lamb, there was once a gain little that could be improved, so following otherwise routine maintenence Edwards would take on the Sweet Lamb Hafren stage with one eye remaining on the temperature gauge. A committed pace throughout the fast and flowing stage would see a further 2 seconds clawed back to main B13 class rival and former BTRDA Champion David Wright, setting 3rd fastest time overall to boot, helping maintain 5 position overall. However, with 12 miles of stages still to go, that position itself would be under threat, with the Focus WRC 08 of Stephen petch just a handful of seconds behind.

With little choice but to attack the 11 mile re-run of the opening Gartheiniog test, Edwards did so in fine style, determined to maintain position and possibly challenge Wright for 4th, the top 3 possitions now out of reach. A strong performance resulted in a dead-heat with Wright on the stage in a time 23 seconds faster than their troubled earlier run, and only a 2 second loss to the superior WRC machine of Petch was a fine effort, with just the short blast round The Woodyard spectator stage to go; a second fastest time here securing 5th position.

“We had a really good push to claw back what time we could after our mornings problems, and have been on, if not setting the class pace since which is a huge boost for the team and a fine reward for everyones hard work the last few months. The pace at the front is furious now so to be with in touching distance when the car is 1005 is great, and its nice to be ‘at one’ with the car finally and feel confident to push hard which bodes well for the rest of the season; we have some work to do now however to rectify this problem which we think has manifest itself prior to the rally.” explained Edwards at the Welshpool Finish.

This result hauls Edwards back up to 3rd Overall in the BTRDA Rally series and also kick starts the defence of his Welsh Nation Championship crwon. But with just three weeks untill the next round of the series, Edwards and the Group B Motorsport team are sure to face a time and financial struggle to prepare.

Edwards and Rogers are also supported by Holton Homes, Egniol Ltd, Mintex Questmead, Smart-Trailers.co.uk, EvoParts.org, and Mintex Questmead, View Creative Agency.

For more information on Matt and his 2013 season partners please visit;
http://www.merallysport.com/

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