Kirriemuir electrician Craig Wallace was aiming to co-drive his new team to another success in the British Rally Championship in the second round of the MSA British Rally Championship.
Based in Welshpool, the Bulldog Rally, the international rally of Wales, is notorious for being hard on car and crew.
And, with hot weather forecast, the prospects for a very dry and dusty event were high, harsh enough especially with the prospect of 96 stage miles and in excess of 200 road miles.
Craig and driver Gary Pearson were contesting the second round of the British Rally Championship and the RenaultTwingo R1 Trophy UK.
Craig explained: “With Renault now involved in the British Championship as a manufacturer it is really important that we do well.
“It’s easy to go all out and gain time on your competitors but on an international event the service crew are not allowed to provide assistance out with the service area. So a major consideration is also how to preserve the car and if need be make temporary repairs ourselves.”
With the recce completed on Friday and formalities at the ceremonial start in Welshpool it was an early night for the Border Rally Sport team.
With three stages before service, they set a good early pace and good progress through three famous stages of Big Ray, Dyfi Main and Gartheiniog before returning to service in Welshpool.
Craig said: “We came into service with no real issues. The front tyres would need changed but apart from that we were happy with the performance.
“Being in an R1 specification car we are not concerned with overall place, as there is no way we can compete with the R2s and R3s.
“We set our sights on chasing a class win. So it was a case of staying ahead of the Norwegian crew of Røkland/Norstrand in an R1 Fiesta.
“We achieved that in Big Ray and Dyfi Main although we dropped a little to them in the 15 miles of Gartheiniog.
“In service we were 24 seconds ahead, which we were pleased with.
“Also, we check our times against the much more powerful Twingo R2 of Allen/Bull. They were just 23 seconds ahead so we were confident we could hold our own on the day.”
With service over it was time for the service crew to pack up and head over to the remote service location in Dolgellau, whilst Craig and Garry headed off to run the next three stages which were a repeat of the morning stages.
Craig highlighted: “We were quicker on the second runs in each case.
“More importantly, we maintained and then extended our lead over the Norwegians and also took time out of the R2 in the first two of the afternoon stages.”
It was a hard day for all involved but the return to Welshpool for the ceremonial finish made it all worthwhile with a class win in the MSA British Championship and the Twingo R1 Trophy win. Maximum points two events in a row.
Craig’s last comment of the event; Once the champagne is sprayed and the crowds melt into the darkness, most folk think it’s all over, but it’s not for the teams.
“We were called in for post event Scrutineering and still had Parc Ferme to follow. Two hours after we crossed the finish ramp our day was over. And what a great day we had.”
Craig’s next international event will be the Pirelli International Rally in Carlisle, Cumbria on April 27/28.