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Our first foray in to the woods of the year was for the Cambrian Rally and this year it was not just the opening round of the BTRDA championship but also the BRC. A superb entry gathered, loaded with R5 and WRC machinery at the front end for the two championships. There was an International feel with Chilean brothers Pedro & Alberto Heller starting as cars 1 & 2 whilst reigning 2018 champion, for both the BRC and BTRDA, Matt Edwards lined up at 3 with Pat Walsh calling the notes, making it an all Fiesta R5 top 3. With the top 10 being made up of the rest of the main BRC contenders it was Stephen Petch & Michael Wilkinson (Fiesta WRC) who were car no.11 and headed up the National B section of the rally. Charlie Payne & Carl Williamson (Fiesta) and Euan Thorburn & Paul Beaton (Focus WRC) completed the BTRDA top 3 seeds.

The first stage through Clocaenog saw David Bogie & John Rowan (Fabia R5) went fastest by 0.8s from Edwards with Tom Cave & Dale Bowen (i20 R5) 2.4s further back in 3rd. Edwards & Cave then set the joint fastest time through Alwen befoe Edwards went on a 5 stage fastest time streak. With re-runs of stages 3-5 left to go, Edwards held a 14.6s advantage over Bogie with Cave just 2.8s further back. Martin McCormack & Barney Mitchell (Fabia R5) was over 20s back in 4th with Desi Henry & Liam Moynihan (Fabia R5) in close quarters.

Cave then went fastest through Crafnant 2 to grab 2nd place before Edwards took stage 9, extending his lead to over 23s. There was late drama though on the final stage, Elsi 2, but not Edwards as another fastest stage time saw him win on his home event by over 26s. The drama was behind as Bogie grabbed 2nd place as Cave retired after stage 10, following almost a minute and a half dropped on the stage. McCormack held off Henry to secure the final podium place.

In the Junior category James Wilson & Arthur Kierans (208 R2) just edged out William Creighton & Liam Regan (208 R2) by 1.9s after a superb battle raged all event long, throughout the class. The lead changed almost every stage until the halfway point when Wilson took the lead. Creighton had lead but dropped time on stage 5 and the fightback began. Sadly he ran out of stage mileage and came up just short as Wilson held his advantage to take victory. Marty Gallagher & Dean O’Sullivan (208 R2) completed the podium just 1.6s ahead of Josh McErlean & Ger Conway (208 R2).

In the BTRDA Thorburn set the early pace with 4 fastest stage times to build up an advantage of over half a minute. Payne was 2nd but Petch was an early casualty as he retired on stage 2 with a broken rear diff, after dropping half a minute on the opening stage. Payne then went fastest on the next two stages but he closed to just under 3 seconds of Thorburn as he dropped time on stage 6. Thorburn recovered to win stage 7 and take victory by 3.3s from Payne. Niall Henry & Damien Duffin (DS3 R5) completed the top 3, almost a minute down.

In the BTRDA 2WD George Lepley & Arwel Jenkins (Avenger) took a superb victory, along with the historic category honours. 19s back and first 1400 crew home were Chris Powell & Jim Lewis (Sunbeam) with Dave & Toby Brick (Corsa) just 7.7s further back, making it two 1400 crews in top 3 2WD crews overall.

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