The 2023 award winners have now been uploaded to the website and can be viewed here.
King of Epynt Challenge supported by Marsh Sport Round 3
The Mewla was the final round of the King of Epynt Challenge supported by Marsh Sport, and first to finish were Damian Cole and his daughter Charly in their Citroen C3 Rally 2. On Charly’s first event at Epynt after their accident on the Dixies Challenge, the pair were soon into their stride and challenging for the overall lead of the event. Altering their Citroen’s suspension and changing to slick tyres worked wonders for the later stages, with the pair ending the event in second place overall, just two seconds behind the winners. Despite finishing as leading Challenge crew, the pair ended in third place in the Series, having failed to score on the Dixies Challenge.
Second of the co-drivers to finish was Jonathan Hawkins who used his local knowledge to help Anthony Morgan achieve a fine fourth place finish in their Darrian T90 GTR.
Another crew left to rue a non-score on the Dixies Challenge were Terry Brown/Angharad Williams who overcame worn tyres to finish as second Challenge finisher in their Ford Escort, taking a top ten finish in the process.
Third driver to finish was a relieved Phil Lloyd who had started the day in the lead of the series and was looking set for a top ten finish and a good class result in his Ford Escort Mk2 before the radiator cap blew off on the seventh of the ten special stages. Thankfully he was able to effect repairs, and despite finishing lower than expected, he and Dean Wiltshire scored enough points to enable them to win the King of Epynt Challenge for 2023.
Following their problem free run, where they took another class win, Leighton Smith/Karen Phelps have ended the year second in the Challenge in their Peugeot 2025 GTi, with Cole finishing as third driver and Gareth Davies, who was out with Eurwyn Davies in a Ford Escort finishing third co-driver.
Other finishers were Jim and Paul Boxall in a Peugeot 205 GTi who finished just one place ahead of Richard Stepney/Alun Ginn in a Talbot Sunbeam.
King of Epynt Challenge supported by Marsh Sport Round 2
Tour of Epynt
Running later in the year than on previous occasions, the Welsh Tarmacadam Championship contestants made their way to the daunting Epynt military ranges for the Tour of Epynt, the sixth round of the series and the second round of the King of Epynt Challenge.
Competing on his first round of the Tarmacadam Championship this year, Mark Kelly had a dream outing in his Skoda Fabia R5, with Welshman Dafydd Evans alongside for the first time. The pair faced seven special stages, with the first four held in dry conditions before the heavens opened and the remaining three long tests were run in extremely wet conditions.
After finishing second overall on the event last year in a Ford Fiesta R5, Kelly found the set up of his Skoda to be perfect for the mixed conditions, and was fastest on the first six stages, before easing off on the final stage to record a convincing win, his first outright success on Epynt, taking maximum points in the process.
Continuing his recent run of good form, Chris Simmons was second of the Welsh contestants to finish, narrowly missing out on a top tenth placing, but nonetheless he now moves into the lead of the Championship following his run of good finishes.
Another strong finish resulted in third drivers points for Ian Godney who now moves up to third in the up to two litre class in his Suzuki Swift F2000 kit Car.
Having damaged their usual engine, Leighton Smith/Karen Phelps were forced to run with a less powerful unit in their Peugeot 205 GTi, but in the wet conditions this probably didn’t matter as much, as they took another class win in the process. With their Darrian T90 back to full working order after retirement on the Merlin Stages, Russell Davies/Richard Suter were next to finish, and now lie second overall in the Championship, having overtaken Richard Merriman/Kath Curzon, the latter crew retiring late on in the day.
With Christian Howells unable to start the event, car preparer Ian Evans drove his car for the day, enabling his son Dan to take maximum co-driver points on the day, whilst Kevin Davies/Sion Rowlands took maximum class points in their Peugeot 207.
For the Tour of Epynt, Lucie Gutteridge teamed up with Paul Jenkins and after a slower start than they would have liked, the pair sped up on the later stages in their Ford Escort, and with maximum class points on the day, Lucie continues to lead the co-driver’s section outright.
Also failing to finish was Phil Turner, whose Skoda Fabia R5 suffered differential problems early on. It would also be a short day for Malcolm & Rhys Jones who had won the last event on Epynt, The Dixies Challenge. Unfortunately, their Darrian T90 GTR suffered an engine misfire shortly after leaving the start, forcing them into retirement.
Following his accident on the Dixies Challenge, Damian Cole wheeled out his new Citroen C3 Rally 2 for only the second time, and he and Paul Spooner spent the day trying out different settings as Cole acclimatised to the car. Second overall was a fine result, with Cole taking maximum King of Epynt Challenge points.
Phil Lloyd/Dean Wiltshire finished in the top ten once again and having secured maximum class points in their Ford Escort Mk 2 now lead the challenge outright. They were followed home by Leighton Smith/Karen Phelps in their Peugeot 205 GTi, with Peter Jones/Gareth Davies finishing fourth in their Triumph TR7 V8.
The King of Epynt Challenge Supported by Marsh Sport
Round 1 – Dixies Challenge Rally
The change from a Peugeot 207 to a Darrian T90 GTR is proving to be a very successful one for Malcolm Jones/Rhys Jones, who have quickly adapted to their new car. After finishing second on the first round of the Welsh Tarmacadam championship, the Tour of Caerwent, the pair went one better as they won the opening round of the King of Epynt Challenge, the Dixies Challenge Rally.
After completing the ten special stages on the Epynt Ranges, the pair were almost a minute ahead of their nearest rivals, setting fastest time on each of the stages as they recorded their first ever outright rally win. Their day had been problem free, and they had made some good tyre choices in the wet conditions.
Another driver with a new car for the year is Rob Tout, who has moved from his previous Mitsubishi Lancer to a Ford Fiesta R5. Whilst finding the cars four-wheel drive to be beneficial in the slippery conditions, he is still getting used to his new car, but nonetheless, he and co-driver Terry Martin were second contenders to finish.
Things didn’t start well for Phil Turner following a second stage incident, but he enjoyed his despite finding the chicanes a bit tight to manoeuvre around in his Skoda Fabia, but he finished the day as third Challenge driver.
Going into the final two stages of the day, Richard Merriman/Kath Curzon were leading the two-litre class in their Darrian T90 only to lose time on the last loop when they struggled on the wet roads. Class rivals Phil Lloyd/Dean Wiltshire revelled in the slippery conditions however, and with their Ford Escort sporting a new engine, the pair overtook Merriman to secure the class win, by just four seconds, despite some power steering issues during the day. Third in the class went to the Vauxhall Astra GTE crewed by Neil Jones/Alan Thomas.
Leighton Smith/Karen Phelps had a good run, beating fellow Peugeot 205 Gti David and Paul Boxall to win their class, whilst Christian Prynne was first of the 1600cc runners to finish in his Suzuki Ignis and Richard Stepney/Alun Ginn won their class in a BMW.
Thomas Cooper was the sixth challenge contestant to finish, despite his Mitsubishi Lancer being slowed with a down on power engine, and he was followed home by Terry Brown/Angharad Williams who were second in their class in their Ford escort to Wayne Jones.
First of the Historic crews to finish were Peter Jones/Gareth Davies in their Triumph TR7 V8.
Unfortunately, reigning champions Damian and Charly Cole failed to finish following an accident in their Skoda Fabia R5, and also retiring on the event were Eurwyn Davies whose Ford Escort had engine problems, and Phil Evans whose Mitsubishi Lancer suffered clutch issues. Co-driver Jonathan Hawkins was in line for a top ten finish before he and Kevin Tappin dropped down the order when their Darrian T90 suffered a broken earth strap.
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