NWCC Member wins Cambrian Rally
Local man Luke Francis of Rhuddlan proved that determination pays dividends and announced his arrival on the senior clubman rallying stage this weekend, lifting the AVS Motorsport Cambrian Rally in a spectacular and calculated finish.
The 22 year old crane coordinator was co-driven by John H Roberts of Colwyn Bay in their Bob Francis Crane Hire, Voot Communications and Giles Phillips Motorsports backed Group N Mitsubishi EVO IX, Francis holding his composure and driving with maturity as big name challengers fell by the wayside as the day wore on.
The rally was the final round of several championships, most notably the British Trial and Rally Drivers association (BTRDA) Gold Star Championship and all eyes were on Ruthin’s Hugh Hunter as the North Wales Car Club (NWCC) member fought with Roger Chilman of Hereford and Shaun Gardener of Ludlow, the three all in the driving seat to nail the Championship that had gone to the wire.
Chilman rolled out of the rally on the opening stage in Clocaenog Forest whilst Hunter stormed into a 28 second lead on Gardener, with Francis in 9th place.
Matt Edwards, 28 of Rhos on Sea found his Mitsubishi Evo IX fully on form for the first time this year and driving with huge commitment, the NWCC member raced into 2nd place overall, setting the fastest stage time in Penmachno Forest and beating the pace of Hunter’s World Rally Car only to retire after the stage with a holed sump. Edwards’ demise was Francis’ fortune as he moved into 2nd place, chasing Hunter down and heading into Clocaenog Forest for the 5th and 6th stages, Hunter carried a 55 second lead over Francis, however, trouble wasn’t far away with Hunter losing time on the 5th stage, then retiring eon the 6th stage with gearbox failure.
NWCC member, Francis stepped up to the mark and kept a cool head on the 6th stage, knowing what was at stake and put in a mature performance to take the rally lead with a 1 second margin of Tom Naughton of Bury.
As darkness fell, the rally crews headed back to Llandudno to tackle the twisting narrow tarmac roadway clinging to the cliffs of the Great Orme, where Francis, showing no nerves set the 2nd fastest stage time, beating Naughton by 2 seconds to arrive at the finish line on the promenade 3 seconds up overall on Naughton to win the 57th Cambrian Rally.
This was Francis’ first rally win and his father Mark, said “We’re a clubman rallying family, Luke is the 3rd generation to compete and we’re all very proud of him.This victory is momentous as the whole family and Luke’s co-driver were close to John “Bont” Roberts who sadly passed away a few days ago and had won the event five times. With his family out on the rally, it was important to us that the rally was won by a local lad so it’s been quite an emotional day.”
138 competitors in 27 different makes of cars ranging from historic marques such as an Austin Healey 3000 MKIII to the ultra-modern 1600cc Mini Cooper S World Rally Car and International competitors from Venezuela, South Africa, New Zealand and Belgium took part in the event.
Chief Marshal, Keith Pulling of North Wales Car Club said “The rally has been a hit with the competing crews and we’ve had huge numbers of spectators out on the stages showing just how popular the rally is to the local community. On behalf of the Club, I’d just like to thank all the marshals, volunteers and sponsors for their time and effort in making the rally a great success.”
A collection for charity in memory of John “Bont” raised just over £1000.
Article and pic by John Evans – i2ipix.co.uk