Arron Newby on his way to winning the Rallynuts Stages Rally. Image credit: Malcolm Almond.
Arron Newby claimed his second victory of 2023 on Saturday as he took his Skoda Fabia R5 to a convincing win in the Builth Wells-based Rallynuts Stages Rally.
The 28-year-old driver from Cumbria took control of a hotly contested event on the fifth test when early leader Matt Hirst picked up a puncture. From then on, Newby and co-driver Jamie Edwards threaded their way through the tricky world-class stages with precision, to take the win by an impressive 30 seconds.
2021 winner Elliot Payne and co-driver Tom Woodburn were their nearest challenger, taking their Ford Fiesta Rally2 to second spot, but only by one second ahead of the wounded Hirst who salvaged third after an afternoon to forget.
Sponsored by established racewear and accessory firm Rallynuts Motorsport, the rally is organised by Midland Manor Motor Club. Around 120 crews tackled seven stages in the Myherin, Sweet Lamb, Hafren and Sarnau forests.
Last year's winner Hirst and co-driver Declan Dear set the pace from the outset, setting the fastest time on all four morning stages to head back into the mid-day service with a mighty 20-second lead.
However, the hard work was undone in the afternoon, losing more than 30 seconds with a puncture on the fifth test, before suffering another on the final stage of the rally.
This allowed Newby to take advantage of the ailing Fiesta, setting the pace on the Myherin Main test and again in Cwmysgawen to storm to the win, adding to his Malcolm Wilson Rally Interclub victory last month and taking maximum MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series points in the process.
“That was totally unexpected,” said a shocked Newby at the finish. “It’s been a phenomenal day and there isn’t a mark on the car. The pacenotes were brilliant and the stages are just fantastic down here, it's absolutely mega.
“You know of course we have a little bit in the back of our minds with Craig [Breen] obviously. Our thoughts are still going towards him, but in terms of the pace today, I absolutely loved it, I couldn't be any happier.”
Last week, World Rally Championship driver Craig Breen lost his life in a testing accident for the forthcoming Croatia Rally and the Rallynuts Stages Rally held a one-minute silence ahead of the start as a mark of respect.
The winners also elected not to take part in the traditional champagne spray in his honour.
Payne was thankful for his second place after a difficult day behind the wheel. Issues with the setup of the Fiesta hampered progress in the morning loop and, despite changes in service, couldn’t make inroads on Newby’s lead.
The runner-up spot would offer some consolidation in his second BTRDA title quest which remains firmly alive.
Hirst limped back to the finish with little left of the transmission, to round off the podium but did enough to secure maximum Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship points.
The rally also attracted a healthy two-wheel-drive battle and it was the stunning FIAT 131 Abarth of Nick Elliott and Dave Price which took the honours. They snatched that marker from the grasp of Robert Gough and Paul Morris in their Ford Escort MKII, by just one second on the final stage.
Builth Wells driver Jason Pritchard had the honour of first local driver home in 13th overall in his Ford Escort MKII and was only a handful of seconds behind the leading historic crews.
The Bowler Defender Challenge was won by the Finnish crew of Jorma and Janne Jokela, enjoying over a minute gap to second placed Vanessa Ruck and Chris Cumming.
For full results, head to www.rallynutsrally.co.uk
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