The battle for the top prize on round three of the Dunlop/Gambia MSA British Historic Rally Championship, the Severn Valley Historic Rally came down to a straight fight between Welshmen Gwyndaf Evans and Julian Reynolds.
Evans claimed back the lead he had lost earlier in the day with a faultless charge through the final stage in Radnor, claiming category three victory for his Viking Motorsport Escort MK2 by just 3.5s. Other category wins went to Graham Waite/Gill Cotton (Volvo Amazon) and Rupert Lomax/David Alcock (Ford Escort MK1), a result that puts Lomax to the top of the championship table.
Despite spinning on the first stage in Cefn and twice in Crychan, Jonathan and Graham Gale (Sunbeam Tiger) pulled out a three-second lead over Waite/Cotton, but the roles were reversed through Halfway. “I nursed my tyres through the stage, and just gave it what I could,” said Gale.
The result was Waite emerging with a lead of just a fifth of a second, but after Gale fitted new rear tyres it went back in his favour as they headed for service. “It was too dry for us really and too much uphill where the Tiger's power told,” Waite replied.
Although Gale started the last stage through Radnor with three seconds in hand, it was Waite who grabbed the victory. “We went off after going flat out over a crest into a hairpin,” Gale explained. He restarted in front of Waite but moved aside rather than delay his rival.
One notable absentee was the Porsche 911 of Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride. “We caught Gale's dust and I misjudged where the next bend was, then went off backwards into a ditch,” said Nutt. So third overall in the category was the Hillman Imp of Geoff Taylor/Steve Greenhill. "We had no clutch in Gwibedog but it had been great until then. The rear suspension legs cracked too in Halfway, so we will have to look after it,” said Taylor.
Paul Mankin/Desmond Bell (Lotus Cortina) held third on the opening stage, but after picking up a misfire in Crychan, they punctured later in the same stage. “We tried to carry on and then lost the tyre and had to stop. We had a spare rear but the puncture was a front, so it made the next two stages very interesting,” said Mankin.
As well as Nutt, stage two had also claimed the Minis of Terry Cree/Richard Shores and Peter Williams, with head-gasket and clutch problems respectively. Meanwhile, Mike Barratt/Jody Watson (Mini Cooper) got ahead of Philip and Barbara Smith (Porsche 911) on stage four. “It was so dry that the dust got in Barbara's throat and she couldn't read the notes,” said Philip. Nick Pinkett and Jonathan Lodge were also in the wars after rolling their two-stroke Saab 96 in Gwibedog. “It had been perfect until then. It's my first time in this car for two years and I rolled it,” said Pinkett.
Taylor caught Barratt in Radnor, but retained a safe third. “With the clutch gone and the dust we're not going for heroics,” said the class B1 victors. Although Barratt retained class B2 victory, he lost fourth to the Smiths. “We were losing the exhaust a bit but really pleased with how things went,” said Barratt as Mankin and Pinkett completed the finishers.