JAMES Williams and Dai Roberts repeated their impressive Ypres result with another third place in the Junior British Rally Championship category for under 24-year old drivers at the Nicky Grist Stages.
Based in Builth Wells, the two-day rally is unique in the BRC calendar, as it features loose-surface stages on the opening day and then asphalt on the second.
Spencer Sport driver Williams, from Newcastle Emlyn, was on a mission and from the word go, he had established themselves amongst the category leaders - who were all driving R2 machinery.
The time sheets revealed this was to be the most fiercely fought round of the season, with the top seven JBRC crews separated by less than 30 seconds by the end of the first day’s 45-miles, with Williams lying third and just 8.2 seconds off the lead.
Fired up for Sunday’s tussle on the tarmac, they were in the ascendancy and took the lead on the first stage in the morning, only to succumb to a significant over-shoot on stage 11. The subsequent delay relegated them to third place and, try as they might, the competition between the front-runners was so close they were unable to claw back the lost time.
After enjoying his second celebration on the JBRC podium in two weeks, 19-year old Williams said: “We set the bar high in Ypres, and perhaps I was perhaps expecting a lot from this event, but I’m really happy to score another third place.
“It’s great to know we can be on the leading pace in the Juniors, especially on an event like this with its change of surfaces, so I’m now looking forward to see if we can make even more progress when we go to the Ulster Rally for the next round.”
There was a little bit of history repeating on the Nicky Grist Stages as the top three from Ypres recorded the same result in Wales, with Callum Devine and Keith Moriarty (Opel ADAM R2) claiming the Junior win after two action-packed days.
The overall lead changed hands no fewer than six times throughout, with the front-wheel drive pocket-rockets entertaining the enthralled Welsh rally fans.
Lampeter’s Meirion Evans and Jonathan Jackson stole the initial march in their Peugeot 208 R2, but a puncture on stage two saw them tumble down the order.
Oscar Solberg/Patrik Barth (Ford Fiesta R2T) seized the advantage before they too came unstuck, this time with turbo woes.
Marty Gallagher/Dean O’Sullivan and Cameron Davies/Michael Gilbey traded times and the lead at the front of the pack in their Peugeot 208s. Davies had almost called time on his rallying career after an accident in Ypres, but together with his team, he performed a herculean effort to get the car ready for his home event.
The Welshman led the Junior BRC at the overnight halt, just ahead of Gallagher.
Unfortunately, their fairytale was not concluded on the Nicky Grist as the engine in Davies’ 208 let go at the start of the second day, forcing him out of contention.
It was left to fellow countrymen Williams and Roberts to uphold Welsh honours as they found themselves embroiled in a five-way scrap for supremacy.
During the fast and furious lead changes at the front, Irishmen Devine and Moriarty bided their time as they got used to the nimble Opel ADAM R2 on gravel.
Once onto his preferred surface, Devine pushed on and after snatching the lead on stage 11, he never looked back en route to consecutive wins in the Junior BRC.
William Creighton and Liam Regan (Peugeot 208 R2) had a quiet event by their usual high standards and similarly increased their pace on the Tarmac to slip into second, in so doing taking their fourth podium of the year to share the overall lead with Devine/Moriarty.
James Williams and Dai Roberts took a popular podium as the cars returned to the centre of Builth Wells, keeping the hungry Gallagher/O’Sullivan and Evans/Jackson behind on the leaderboard, in fourth and fifth places respectivey.