Last weekends Coracle Stages will certainly be a rally that the Owen family will not be forgetting in a hurry, after 21-year-old Mererid, making her co-driving debut, finished third overall, whilst her brother Richard, making his stage rally driving debut, finished third in class.
The pair, who hail from the little town of Llanwrin, near Machyllenth in Mid Wales, each enjoyed an adventure filled day.
Mererid, who was navigating for Historic Escort pilot Paul Griffiths, struggled with her role early on, but by the end of the day was calling the notes like a seasoned pro, and helped Paul to set a string of top 5 times all event long.
At the end of the day Paul was full of praise for his young co-driver: “Mer was brilliant today. She adapted really well and by the end I had a lot of trust in what she was calling. We had a lot of fun today, and I'm not too sure who had more fun, Mererid or me!”
Meanwhile brother Richard, who is one of the senior technicians at Geoff Jones Motorsport, was tackling the rally at the wheel of a wide arch Nissan Micra. Despite this being the first time he had driven the car in anger he was immediately on the pace, setting the third fastest time in class on the opening 5 mile stage - and this was despite catching and passing another car mid stage.
The day continued to get better and better as his confidence grew. Richard was not the only novice in the car, as co-driver Geoff Mayes was also making his navigating debut and struggled with the notes early on.
However things began to fall into place and a string of really fast times helped elevate the K-motion backed pair into second in class and with a margin of over 20 seconds to their nearest rival, entering the last stage.
Disaster struck, though, when Richard caught a slower car near the start of the longest stage of the rally. Over a minute was lost as the car in front failed to move over and Richard was stuck in his dust for over 6 agonising miles. Despite this time loss Richard and Geoff were still able to hang onto a class podium.
“We had such a ball today. I never expected to be on the podium, so to finish third is fantastic,” said Richard. “I was a bit annoyed at the car in front on the last stage as that certainly cost us second in class, but hey ho, that's rallying!
“I'd like to say a massive thanks to Geoff Jones for all of his help, and also to K-Motion of Telford for their support in this event. Now I've got the bug, I'd better finish off my own rally car!”
Richard and Mererid currently have no firm plans to contest another rally soon but have not ruled out competing in an event together later in the year.