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Three-time British Rally champion Matt Edwards stormed to a second Fuchs Lubricants British Historic Rally Championship win in a row on Saturday [21 May], taking his FIAT 131 Abarth to a convincing Plains Rally victory.

Edwards and co-driver Hamish Campbell sealed their second maximum points score from two starts in spectacular fashion, taking fastest time on every stage to finish an impressive one minute and three seconds ahead of their nearest rivals Henri Grehan and Dan Petrie. Hugh Hunter and Rob Fagg snatched the final podium spot from the clutches of Robert Gough in the very last test.

Ten stages and over 40 miles of North Wales forests were on offer and the super-fast and little used tests would challenge the bravery of a bumper list of BHRC crews who headed to Bala for the third round of the series.

The opening Aberhirnant stage was fast; too fast in fact as many crews beat the Bogey Time but nevertheless that gave Edwards a slender one second advantage over teammate Nick Elliott who had swapped his Ford Escort MKII for the second RSD Developments FIAT. The day was shaping up to be an interesting battle too, with the Italian brand moving into territory long belonging to the Fords.

Sadly, Elliott and co-driver Peredur Davies’ engine cried enough on the way to the third test and despite Grehan’s best efforts, Edwards had a 21 second cushion heading into the halfway service. With the FIAT set up to his liking, none of his rivals had an answer to Edwards’ pace and he settled into the perfect rhythm through the afternoon to take a stellar second win of the season, putting him second in the championship standings despite missing the opening round.

“It has been really nice to have that sort of run in the car today,” said a delighted Edwards.

“We have been looking for that sort of result all along really. We have won a couple [of rallies] already this year but we have always had a few gremlins so it’s a huge credit to the team and of course Hamish who was great on the notes all day. Taking fastest time on every stage is a really nice bonus too, its all coming together now.”

It was an impressive drive from Escort MKII pilot Grehan who has taken hold of his maiden BHRC campaign this season. Consistency is often key to championship titles, and he has been just that, taking fourth in the opening two rounds, this was his first podium and despite nursing a flattened exhaust and resulting loss of power, did enough to take the lead of the championship with second place.

Gough was another to have a positive drive in the North Wales forests and although struggling with judging grip levels at times in his Escort MKII thanks to the ever-changing surface, would sit comfortably in third for much of the rally. Sadly, he and co-driver Jack Bowen could not match the pace of an ever-improving Hunter who set a blistering time through the final five miles of Clocaenog to take the position by four seconds.

A surprised Paul Street was delighted with fifth in his Escort MKII. With Ian Jones on the notes, Street worked away quietly in the background all day and stayed out of trouble to net one of his best BHRC results. Will Onions and Dave Williams were not far behind however and professed to be unable to catch up with the youngsters but enjoyed their run to sixth in their Escort.

The fight for Category Two [cars between 1968-1975] was perhaps not as clear cut as it looks on paper, but Adam Milner and Roy Jarvis continue to impress, taking their Ford Escort MKI to a sensational category win, despite having just 1600cc under the bonnet. That would also mean they took home the BHRC2 honours [up to 1600cc and `B` classes] too boot.

Chris Skill and Brian Hodgson were never too far away all day in their MKI but elected to settle for second place after service and with the retirement of challengers Ben and Steve Smith in the morning loop, would take that position comfortably.

Splitting the Category Two duo, Richard Jordan and James Gratton Smith had an encouraging day in the forests to take their MKII to eighth whilst Rudi Lancaster and Guy Weaver rounded out the top ten and sealed the FIA Category in the process in their MKII.

Bob Bean and Mike Curry scored yet another Category One [cars up to 1968] victory in their, Lotus Cortina with the class-based Fuchs Lubricants Rally2 Mixed Surface Championship points scoring system gave Mike Wolff/Mark Twiname’s BMW a top score.

It was a brutal day in the stages for some however, with Sacha Kakad/Claire Williams ending a very encouraging run on stage seven with an off-road excursion, and 2019 BHRC champions Simon Webster/Jez Rogers being forced out with vibration issues.

With June’s Red Kite Stages now cancelled, the BHRC will now take a summer break before resuming in September at the Woodpecker Rally in Ludlow, Shropshire.

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

Top Three Provisional Points After Round 3 – Plains Rally

Henri Grehan 71
Matt Edwards 63
Nick Elliott 56

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