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Three-time British Rally champion Matt Edwards stamped his name in the history books on Saturday [26 March] with victory at round two of the Fuchs Lubricants British Historic Rally Championship, the WKD Trained Dogs Rally North Wales.

After a record breaking hattrick of back-to back BRC titles, Edwards would continue his winning ways by taking the Rally Sport Developments FIAT 131 Abarth to its first ever British Historic Rally Championship victory and the first non-Ford win since 2009 in the series.

Nick Elliott and drafted in co-driver Dave Robson took their Ford Escort MKII to a well-deserved runner up spot whilst Roger Chilman and Patrick Walsh rounded out the top three in their similar machine.

Co-driven by Hamish Campbell, Edwards endured a gruelling day in the fast, dry and dusty Welsh stages with suspension issues making life hard behind the wheel of the raucous FIAT. Confusion over a waved flag on the fifth test also gave him a steep mountain to climb over the final loop, but Edwards dug deep to claim a maiden BHRC win for both the FIAT and the British Rally champion.

“I`m pretty ecstatic with this win to be honest,” said Edwards

“I think this is the fourth of fifth rally we have done in the car, and we have always had challenges to overcome. Today has been no different really, we bent the subframe and had a weld break on the suspension and even had a puncture on the fourth stage so almost had to go into survival mode, I guess. But we knuckled down and got on with it. We are here to promote the car and I think today has proved it can do the job. It’s game on at the Plains [Rally].”

But Edwards was not unchallenged. An epic battle developed between round one runner up Elliott, with Edwards trailing by fifteen seconds at the halfway point of the rally. Elliott had the upper hand on the opener but only by one second before Edwards retaliated on the second to swap positions by the tightest margin.

But Elliott responded on the third to reverse the positions and went into the mid-point with just a seven-second advantage. Confusion with a waved flag dropped Edwards time in the fifth, with Henri Grehan and Dan Petrie storming to a stage win in their Escort MKII, further enhancing their improving BHRC pace this season.

Sadly for Elliott, a puncture in the sixth test saw him drop 17 seconds to a charging Edwards and with the FIAT pilot on a mission, Elliott elected to grab valuable points to add to his healthy score from the Riponian. Chilman stayed largely out of trouble during the day to claim third for the second event in a row whilst Grehan took another impressive fourth spot and was just a handful of seconds adrift from his maiden BHRC podium.

Arguably the drive of the rally came from Adam Milner and Roy Jarvis in their 1600cc Ford Escort MK1. With a huge power deficit to the leaders, Milner showed an impeccable pace on the fast Welsh tests to scoop not only the Category 2 [cars between 1968-1975] and BHRC2 [up to 1600cc and `B` classes] win, but an impressive fifth overall in the process. They were chased by the returning Chris Skill and co-driver Brian Hodgson, proving the Category battle will be one to watch throughout the season.

Bob Bean and Mike Curry kept their cool in the spring sunshine to take another Category 1 [cars up to 1968] win in their Lotus Cortina whilst Rudi Lancaster and Guy Weaver took the FIA and Rally2 maximum points haul in their Ford Escort MKII.

Unseasonably dry weather made tyre management and inch-perfect lines a critical factor of staying on the road over the two loops of four stages. Riponian victors Matthew Robinson and Sam Collis suffered prop shaft failure in the ruts whilst Adrian Hetherington and Ronan O’Neil rolled out on stage five. Reigning BHRC champions Ben Friend and Cliffy Simmons suffered double punctures to add to an extensive retirements list.

Round three of the Fuchs Lubricants British Historic Rally Championship returns to Wales in May for the Plains Rally.

For more information on any of the Championships promoted by the RACMRC, please visit:
http://www.racrmc.org

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