A sensational entry of more than 140 cars is set to tackle this weekend’s Rallynuts Stages Rally as the Builth Wells based forest event gets underway on Saturday (April 9).
Despite running just five months ago, the highly regarded rally returns to the calendar in its more traditional April date after the pandemic forced It to be held in November last year.
A big effort from the Midland Manor Motor Club organising team has seen a swift turnaround to offer a bumper entry list of crews from across the UK a chance to contest 44 miles of competitive action, spread over six stages in the Myherin, Sweet Lamb/Hafren and Sarnau forests.
With these tests having hosted drivers in the World Rally Championship in the past, the route is set to test even the most experienced of competitors.
The entry list is bulging with impressive names and cars as they do battle to take overall and class honours.
The event is a qualifying round of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series, Motorsport UK Pirelli Ravenol Welsh Rally Championship, West Wales Rally Spares HRCR Stage Masters, the Brian Dennis Motorsport / Bluefin & Marsh Welsh Historic Rally Championship and the IPS Rally Challenge.
Fresh from victory at the recent Malcolm Wilson Rally, BTRDA leaders Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson will lead the field away in their Ford Fiesta Rally2. Last year's Rallynuts Stages winners Elliot Payne and Patrick Walsh will undoubtedly be trying to take back-to-back victories in their similar machine.
After recently announcing a British Rally Championship campaign in 2022, expect Payne to be on top form. Ian Bainbridge separates a Ford sandwich with his Skoda Fabia R5 and Will Atkins on the notes at number three seed. Second overall on the Wilson will give confidence as they head to Wales.
Ludlow’s Perry Gardener and co-driver Jack Bowen have adapted quickly to their new Fiesta R5 and are fourth seed away, whilst fresh from a Rally North Wales win last month, Matthew Hirst and Declan Dear will be looking for a repeat result in their Fiesta.
Hirst also scooped maximum points in the Welsh Rally Championship battle with Lampeter’s Dylan Davies taking second in his Skoda Fabia R5. Davies and co-driver Mark Glennerster re-join the fight this weekend, as does young ace Tom Llewellin and co-driver Ross Whittock in the unique Mitsubishi Mirage.
The top twenty is littered with potential star performers and the race to be the first two-wheel-drive home is headed up by David Crossen and Aileen Kelly in their rapid Ford Escort MK2.
Nick Elliott and Peredur Davies bring the noise with a FIAT 131 Abarth whilst reigning British Historic Rally champions Ben Friend and Cliff Simmons aim for a change in fortune after a tricky start to 2022.
Fan favourite Marty McCormack and Barney Mitchell also make a welcome return in their Ford Escort MKII whilst Gunnar Karl Johannesson makes the long trip over from Iceland to tackle the event in his Mitsubishi Evo X alongside George Gwynn.
Smaller-engine cars and the older historic category vehicles will lead the crews away from Builth Wells Showground on Saturday morning in a reverse seeded order, followed by the main field in a “fastest first” running order.
The Royal Welsh Showground will host the pre-event formalities on Friday and then start and finish ceremonies from 8am and 4.25pm respectively. Crews will also return there during the day for mid-event service from around 11.30am
Spectators are welcome to watch the action from three viewing areas during the day, with cars passing each location twice. The opening stage of the rally, Myherin, kicks off at 9am on Saturday with the second pass scheduled for 1.50pm. Entrance is cash only, available on the gate and is £10 per car.
Hafren offers the famous, spectacular water splash viewing spot at Sweet Lamb and will see the first car at 9.55am, with the second stage at 2.40pm. Once again, entrance is cash only, available on the gate with a landowner charge of £10 per person.
The Cwmysgawen test offers the chance to see the cars at 10.45am and again at 3.40pm, with entrance to the location cash only, available on the gate and is £10 per car. Tickets are not transferable between the three locations.
Follow the event’s social media feeds for all the latest news, action, and updates throughout the weekend - www.facebook.com/RallynutsStagesRally and
Full spectator information and entry list can be found at www.rallynutsrally.co.uk
Elliot Payne will be aiming for back-to-back Rallynuts wins.
Image credit: Rallysport Media
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