29/07/2023 Off By admin

After a short break in proceedings, the Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship returned into action for Round 4 of its 2023 season at the Quinton Motor Club organised Nicky Grist Stages. From Builth Wells, the Championship reached the mid-point in the season with eight gravel tests (four of repeated) covering approx. 44 competitive stage miles, over stages in the Crychan and Halfway Forest complexes.

Photos By Andy Cook | Xlerate.Media

Last time out on the Plains Rally our reigning Welsh National Champ, Matthew Hirst battled on through the event with some technical issues to secure his third victory of the season. This time around, his regular Co-Driver Declan Dear would be back besides him calling the notes in the Ford Fiesta R5 car as they look to sure up their title bid.

The event began with a short 3.5 mile blast over the opening test, Llyn Loggin on the MOD land just south of Builth. Hirst who was wearing the No1 on the doors having won the interclub rally here last year would, as expected, be the quickest of the Welsh crews out of the stables. Hirst and Co-Driver Dear stopped the clocks over 5 seconds quicker than Rob Wilson & Richard Morton Crozier who were in the W13/B13 Class Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII, with Russ Thompson & Stephen Link the third quickest of the Welsh crews in their EVO9.

Photo: Matthew Hirst & Declan Dear | By Andy Cook – Xlerate.Media

The second stage through Crychan Forest was the longest test of the rally at just under 7 miles in length, here is where Hirst and Dear could stretch their legs out a bit. The pair would gain another 12 odd seconds over the likes of Thompson and Wilson and it was clear from here on that the W13/B13 spec machinery was going to be able to cut the mustard against Hirst in the R5 spec Fiesta.

Over the following two tests of that morning loop, Hirst and Dear continued to dominate the Welsh Championship, building up a sizable lead of over 42 seconds to their closes Welsh registered crews in Russ Thompson & Stephen Link by the time they reached the mid-day service halt.

Photo: Matthew Hirst & Declan Dear | By Andy Cook – Xlerate.Media

The repeated afternoons loop was pretty much a cut n paste of the mornings run, Matthew Hirst and Declan Dear continued to press on registering the fastest Welsh times on all stages. The pair entered the final test with over a minute and twenty in hand and they would indeed emerge victorious for Hirst to take his fourth consecutive Welsh National Championship win, making it a full house thus far.

Photo: Rus Thompson & Stephen Link | By Andy Cook – Xlerate.Media

Rus Thompson and Stephen Link in their EVO 9 successfully fought off the challenging Rob Wilson & Richard Morton Crozier in their EVO VII for the second step on the Welsh podium, also taking the Welsh W13 class honors. The third step on the Welsh podium for Wilson was not a bad result after a troubled day was had out on the stages.

Photo: Boyd Kershaw & Keegan Rees | By Andrew Scott

Meanwhile, in the Hockly Motorsport Welsh Two-wheel drives, the action was a little closer than the 4WD contest was. Kiwi Boyd Kershaw alongside Co-Driver Keegan Rees got their event of to a good start leading Welsh two-wheel drive crews by a shade over 14 seconds at half-time. The morning loop had seen a light skirmish with the G3 Ford Escort of Iwan Roberts & Daniel Jones, with David & Douglas Young a further 40+ seconds down in third in their Ford Escort.

However, Roberts & Jones would, unfortunately, retire from the rally in SS6 (the repeat of Crychan) after suffering from steering issues with their G3 Ford Escort. This cleared the way for the Young’s to scoop up the second spot but they were heading in the final stage of the day with a big deficit to the leaders, Kershaw and Rees.

Photo: Boyd Kershaw & Keegan Rees | Andy Cook – Xlerate.Media

Boyd Kershaw and Keegan Rees entered the final 5.83 miles of Monument with well over a minute in hand and would emerge from the stage with that sizable Welsh 2WD lead intact to secure the top spot on the podium for the third time this season. David & Douglas Young secured second in their Ford Escort ahead of Ricky Crone & Ifan Devine who rounded out the Hockly Motorsport Welsh Two-Wheel Drive Podium.

Robert Gough and Paul Morris put in a dominant performance in the Welsh Historic field (+W9 class) to take their third win of the year to date. They were up against the W8 class MK1 Ford Escorts of Jonathan Brace and Andrew Stokes. Gough and Morris were out in front on their own for the entire rally, leaving the likes of Brace and Stokes to battle it out behind them for the runners-up spot and also the W8 Class honors.

Photo: Robert Gough & Paul Morris | By Andy Cook – Xlerate.Media

Jonathan Brace alongside Paul Spooner ultimately came out on top in that battle with Andrew Stokes and Jonny Tad Evans, securing the second spot on the overall Welsh Historic podium (+top W8 Class honors) for the third time this season, after crossing the finish line back in Builth a little over 48 seconds quicker than Stokes & Evans. Stokes, however, still remains on top in the standings as Brace had a poor result previously on the Plains.

Photo: Jonathan Brace & Paul Spooner | By Andy Cook – Xlerate.Media


The Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship will have another longer summer break until its fifth round in September (9) at the Woodpecker. Sixty and Worcestershire Motor Club will lay on a new look event for the The Phil Price Memorial Woodpecker Stages which will feature the return of some old and some new stages to “The Woody” this year.

Words & Feature Photo By Andy Cook | Xlerate.Media