Bob Fowden & Paul Wakely took a second consecutive victory in the 2017 JD Tyres Welsh Tarmacadam Championship on Sunday, winning the Melvyn Evans Motorsport Tour of Epynt run by Port Talbot Motor Club over the superfast ribbons of asphalt that snake over the military land above Sennybridge in mid Wales.
Battle was joined with the Ford Fiesta WRC machine of Damian Cole / Paul Morris, the Ford fastest by three seconds from the Comline Auto Parts – Kumho Tyres – NGK Subaru Impreza WRC of the Welsh pairing, though Fowden & Wakely clawed back a second on the longer stage two, an eleven miler to the south via Merthyr Cynog. Stage three repeated the opener, the Fiesta and Subaru equal on times, before a massive accident destroyed the Mitsubishi Colt of Sean Crowley – Emma Todd after a high speed crash on a crest on the notorious Burma Road section – both were hospitalised but fortunate to escape serious injury.
The Fowden – Wakely Impreza further impressed back on the long fourth stage, taking another two seconds off the Fiesta WRC, to hold the joint lead, and make the win very possible with three long stages remaining, though in fact the contest was virtually over, as the Ford slowed and duly retired after electrical failure, a Lamda sensor affecting the engine performance, the Fiesta WRC smoking in Service as the team battled to solve the problem, but to no avail. Thus barring unforeseen disaster to the Comline – Kumho – NGK Subaru victory was going to the Welsh duo, and so it proved. The margin was over a minute and a half after the seven stages of the rally, the Subaru massively faster over the final two long stages, Bob Fowden a driver who has long performed best on Epynts longer tests and Paul Wakely guiding the Impreza faultlessly over the stages. Slight problems with the anti-lag system on the Subaru gave the crew a difficult time on hairpins, as did a slide off road at the Four Ways Bridge section of stage five, though only eight seconds was lost such was the pace the Welshmen set over the thirteen miles.
Fifty two crews finished the seventy five stage mile event. The next round of the JD Tyres Welsh Championship will be the Tour of Caerwent on April 2nd at the former RAF base outside Newport.