Fresh from a good run on the Malcolm Wilson Rally, Kirriemuir co-driver Craig Wallace was looking forward to the Bulldog Challenge Rally based in Welshpool.
Being an event which he had competed on previously he was aware of the nature of the stages. However, for Driver Mark McCulloch the stages in this part of Wales were a new experience.
Planning was the key to the event and there is no doubt that the preparation by driver and co-driver was thorough and could be seen through the early stage times they were setting. The Fiesta ST also had a thorough preparation and was performing well.
Craig said; “These stages are very quick in places, but suddenly you enter a very technical section. This really tests the crew and car and is hard work.”
With servicing restricted to the main service area the duo were “on their own” for the first three stages and any repairs required would be down to them.
The first stage at Penllyn was tackled in their customary style of, steady, to establish the feel for the stages, surfaces and notes.
Leaving to head for Dyfnant their early showing was good and this continued into Dyfnant.
At the end of this second stage they had consolidated their position and were ten seconds down on the quickest of the Fiesta ST’s and indeed had progressed to seventh overall.
The third stage saw Mark and Craig take a stunning time only two seconds off the stage leaders Flynn and Carter in their mighty Peugeot 306.
This was all good news for what was only the second event with this car.
Returning to Welshpool for service there were no real issues, a change of tyres and a thorough spanner check, all in 20 minutes, before they headed back out to Gartheiniog.
At Over 15 miles long, and the longest stage on the event, they held their own and came out of the stage fifth quickest and third Fiesta ST.
No mean achievement with the MG ZR of Edwards/Coliss unsurprisingly the quickest.
Craig highlighted; “The nature of the stage gave a big advantage to the cars with more top end speed. We were upbeat as overall we were now fourth in class and sixth overall.
“The quick stage had worked against us but looking at the situation we were only four seconds down on an M Sport built Fiesta R so were well pleased with our performance.”
The fifth stage, Dyfi Main, was another flyer for them. From split times they knew they had an advantage and were making in-roads into the leader board.
Alas, rallying often has a sting in the tail; two thirds of the way through the stage a ball joint sheared and left them stranded at the side of the stage.
“Just one of these things conceded Craig, nothing we could do about it. We were close to a marshal’s post and sat and watched the rest of the competitors and enjoyed ourselves in the sunshine. “
The next event for Craig is the Pirelli Challenge Rally on Saturday, April 30, co-driving for Mark McCulloch in the ProTune Remapping backed Fiesta ST.