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Mansfield based co-driver Phil Hall enjoyed a dream result at the weekend, by winning the WRC3 category and securing a top 30 position at Britain’s round of the FIA World Rally Championship, Dayinsure Wales Rally GB (4-7th October).

Hall, 29, guided fellow Briton Tom Williams around the demanding four-day route in their Ford Fiesta R2T, tackling over 318 kilometres of special stages, spread across 23 tests. The event marked Hall’s second attempt at the rally, after taking fifth place in the RC4 class last year in Wales and his result takes him into fifth place in the WRC3 category standings.

After a confidence-boosting season in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship, the backed co-driver headed to Wales Rally GB to enjoy his home event which was based in Deeside near Chester.

Hall has guided Williams to a finish in all rounds of the Junior WRC, with Neste Rally Finland and Rally Turkey offering their best result of sixth spot in the hotly contested single-make series. Hall would put his prior knowledge of the event to good use as the best drivers in the world tackled infamous stages in north and mid-Wales such as Myherin, Dyfi and Clocaenog.

After a tough two-day reconnaissance and pre-event shakedown, a short spectator stage around the Tir Prince Raceway on Thursday night opened proceedings. Broadcast live on WRC TV and in front of a packed spectator area, Hall would need to be on form from the off thanks to a series of doughnuts and challenging stage layouts around the arena.

A half-second lead was duly gained over the 1.7-kilometre stage and the rally proper would kick off on Friday with eight gruelling stages in north Wales. Conditions were typical “Rally GB” with heavy rain, mist and thick mud greeting the WRC crews in the morning loop.

By the time Hall returned to Deeside for the first service of the day, he had guided Williams to a lead of over one and a half minutes ahead of their nearest rival. A further two minutes were gained over the remainder of the day to ensure a decent buffer into the Saturday leg of the rally thanks to five stage wins in the category.

With Saturday’s route heading into mid-Wales, the stages would offer a little more of a firm ride but the weather had other ideas. Continuing where it left off on Friday, the wet conditions ensured the going was still difficult and when the Fiesta collected a puncture on the 20-kilometre Myherin test, a chunk of time would be lost when they were forced to change the tyre in the stage.

Still in the category lead, Hall was able to help Williams manage the pace of the Fiesta during the closing five stages on Sunday morning. He ensured they crossed the Llandudno finish podium with almost a five-minute margin to their nearest rival, taking Hall’s first WRC3 win in the process.

“It really doesn’t get much better than winning a World Rally Championship category on your home event,” said Hall at the finish.

“It’s been such a difficult rally for so many reasons which makes the victory that little bit more special really. The schedule on Wales Rally GB is always tough and the days are long and arduous. So you really do have to be on top-form all week long and its great that everything came together this weekend to take a WRC3 win.

I had a very measured event and the approach in the car was quite different to that of the JWRC rounds. The support out there has been fantastic this week and there’s nothing like competing in front of your home crowd.”

Image credit Jakob Ebrey Photography

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