Breaking News! Brecon Motor Club are to run events in Africa and California next year. We went for weeks without rain, as soon as the set up crew arrived on the Thursday before the rally it started to spit and drizzle and by the time of the recce heavy showers were falling and come the rally a deluge with high winds was upon us. As a result many foreign governments have been in touch impressed with our ability to attract rain to our events.
The rally itself was a great success again this year under the clerkship of Jason Murphy for the first time. As usual much work was done beforehand which always pays off on the day. That is not to say that there isn't room for improvement, there always is and there won't be any time to relax before planning begins once again. As ever we are extremely grateful to the championships, the Fuchs Oils BHRC, Fuchs Oils RAC Tarmac Championship, the JD Tyres Welsh Tarmac Championship, the Hirefit Epynt Challenge, the Dennis Motorsport WAMC Historic Championship and the JELF Mixed Surface Championship. Without them, the competitors that enter and the marshals who work so hard every time there would be no rally.
And so to the competition, the National A historic rally had a cracking entry and the wet weather provided shock waves in the morning as Nick Elliott emerged as overall leader of both events after two stages. Sadly retirement after stage three thwarted his challenge. Gareth James and Steffan Evans were class of the field for the rest of the day in their Escort RS1800 but were kept honest by Osian Pryce and Dale Furniss in their beautiful hired Escort. Neil Williams and Peter James took the last podium position in their similar car as they also claimed maximum BHRC points.
Category two was won by Simon Tysoe and Paul Morris in their Mk1 Escort RS1600 and Dessie Nutt was back with Geraldine McBride to win Category one in their Porsche 911.
Brecon members fared variously, Jason Pritchard was out in the glorious S2000 Fiesta and was hunting down second place when the differential gave up. Bob Gibbons and Jon Harris were hoping to end a non finishing streak but the oil filter on their Mk2 Cortina decided to undo and the engine lost its oil.
There were some good stories though as Malcolm Rich and Arwel Blainey drove the wheels off 'Bertie' the Anglia to win their class and take second in Category one. Mike Simpson and Dale Gibbons were flying too but gearbox failure slowed them before they could change it in service.
So another year is done but the work is not all over yet! We need to arrange a club night to de-staple the boards and stakes and put them into some sort of order. It never ends!
Ok, 2017 Flatters. Many thanks to all who helped in any way at all. It is always a difficult event to put together in many ways and this year was not any easier with the implementation of even more MSA directives. Before the event the club did a brilliant job with individual performances from Chris Phillips, James Chappelle, David Thomas, Nigel Chappelle, Bob Long being of note. Dave Mac was a diamond again and looked after the threshold signage and and service area and the Brill clan and the Lewis twins did a simply marvellous job of stripping down and clearing the ranges after Pete Henness and his merry men (Cedric & Phil) spread stuff everywhere! It was very nicely spread mind and kept the MSA Safety Delegate happy! Geoff and Gwyneth were outstanding again and work tirelessly for us which is much appreciated.
I am bound to leave someone out but I also have to thank Jason Murphy for deputising so well and putting the safety manual together, Mark Weller for spec car and delegate driving, John Tomley for just doing what he has to with ease. Mustn't forget Lisa Chappelle for keeping James on the straight and narrow although next year she might be looking to improve her seeding instead of officiating! Oh, and thanks to Wayne Palmer for delivering the chicane tyres and Steve Jennings for looking after them all day on the rally.
Last but not least thanks go to all the marshals that turned out, even previous winner Mark Straker did a stint at scrutineering setting a good example to other drivers! As some will know I plan to step back for 2018 after 32 years of involvement and will not be available for the rally weekend next year. I will be able to dispense advice and it would be good to see someone step up to the mark to put it all together. Planning starts now and I did the first bit today by booking the 2018 range dates for all the clubs events.
Well, that's another Harry Flatters Rally put to bed and firstly thanks must go to all the members who helped in whatever way, big or small. Thanks also to our band of officials and marshals without whom it would never happen and not forgetting the competitors who support our event so well each year.
The rally was a challenge to run in the new safety delegate era but despite some scheduling frustrations the day went very well with just the odd hiccup thrown in by competing crews! Winner of the rally for the fifth time was Abergavenny man Damian Cole with Craig Drew in the hot seat in their Ford Fiesta WRC. The win wasn't straightforward however as a high speed excursion on the first special stage meant they limped though the last few miles with a puncture. A concerted effort thereafter saw them overhaul Andy Fraser and Michael Calvert in their powerful Darrian. Fraser had been on for second place overall but a stop line fire on the final stage put paid to that, the efforts of Port Talbot Motor Club marshals and the unstinting help of fellow competitors prevented a total loss. This elevated Adrian Spencer and Mark Hewitt to second place in their much modified Subaru Impreza WRC, an errant sheep redesigning the profile of the car. Final podium place was taken by the evergreen Bob Fowden with Paul Wakeley in their similar Subaru. Bob won the very first Harry Flatters Rally in 1985 and still can't get enough of it!
Damian Cole & Craig Drew leap to overall victory in the National B event
In the prestigious Historic Rally Melvyn Evans started as he meant to go on and headed the field all day in his Hoosier shod Escort RS1800. Behind him there was carnage as Jason Pritchard blew his engine, Rob Smith rolled, Will Onions also blew his engine, Eian Pritchard suffered engine problems and Joe Price couldn't select gears properly. All this meant that runner up Neil Williams and Peter James scored maximum points in the British Historic Championship from Guy Woodcock and championship leader Paul Barrett who did well to get fourth overall with pinto power.
Flatters success at last for Family Gibbons
Of the locals, with the demise of the two pronged Pritchard challenge faltering it was Malcolm Rich who was first local home in 13th place and third in class in the Rich Landscapes RS1800. Club members Bob & Dale Gibbons kept their noses clean this year and won Category One in their lovely Mk2 Cortina. Phil Jones and Joe Eiliot debuted Phil's newly built 1275GT Mini but disaster struck with retirement on the very first bend of the rally when the gearbox failed.
Heartbreak for Phil & Joe on Stage One, Bend One
Melvyn Evans & Patrick Walsh marching on to National A Historic Rally honours
Looking resplendent in tarmac trim Jason Pritchard's Ford Escort RS1800 (above) and Eian Pritchard's identical car (below) both suffered engine issues.
And just because we like it, a flying shot of fourth placed Paul Barrett & Dai Roberts
What a strange world this is, last year we had the best weather ever for the Flatters, this year it was a monsoon! The marshals were the heroes of the day standing out in persistent sideways Epynt rain, wetter than any normal type of rain. Saturday had been glorious but the Met Office had promised us a wet Sunday and duly delivered as the heavens opened at 6:30 in the morning. In the cold light of day the rally was very successful and the 5 stage format used this year proved to be extremely popular with competitors. Spectator numbers were down but with extra scrutiny from the MSA this was no bad thing.
The rally was once again two events, National A historic and National B modern but had to be seeded together in order of anticipated performance which made things more than a little interesting when it came to working out the order. Damian Cole was top seed in his new Ford Fiesta WRC with Jack Morton on the notes but intercom trouble foiled their attempt to be fastest on stage one, that honour going to Mark Jones and Terry Martin in their very well driven BMW starting as they meant to go on. Cole took the initiative thereafter but Jones kept the pressure on all day to finish an amazing second overall. BMC member Eian Pritchard belied his lack of seat time to record an excellent third overall in the North Road Garage Ford Focus WRC.
In the National A historic rally there was a lot of BMC interest locally and main contender for top honours was Jason Pritchard with Phil Clarke in their Ford Escort RS1800. They didn't disappoint either with a commanding victory over experienced campaigner Melvyn Evans in a similar car. Pritchard's victory now puts him at the top of the points table in the British Historic Rally Championship. In the B3 class keen rivals Bob Gibbons and Malcolm Rich were fired up for a good battle. Gibbons co-driven by son Dale in their Cortina and Rich co-driven by Jon Hawkins in their Anglia are fighting for class honours in the British historic Championship and it was Gibbons who put his experience to good use to pull out a decent lead. Rich was destined for second place but with just a mile to go he passed Gibbons parked up on the side of the road with a broken driveshaft and was gifted a category win and bagging a large number of championship points.
Brecon Motor Club members worked hard to pull the event together and will be looking for extra help to keep it going for 2016, keen helpers are hard to come by in the Brecon area so if you are a keen person come and give us a hand!