Neville Jones and co-driver Ian Capewell both felt very proud to finish one of the toughest Wales Rally GB's in recent years when the pair brought their Vulcan Fasteners backed Subaru Impreza back to the ceremonial finish in 41st position overall and inside the top twenty in Group N on their first ever world rally.
Before this rally neither Jones nor Capewell had ever experienced a pre-event recce and the pair were faced with some of the trickiest weather conditions imaginable.
Snow and ice meant that the opening stage of the rally was cancelled, and the rest of the tests on the first day all shortened. Many of the top runners fell foul of the icy nature and Jones was pleased to make it back to the end of day service halt in one piece.
Day two began well for the pair and they were beginning to enjoy the experience… that was until Jones misheard a note and the Geoff Jones Motorsport run Subaru briefly left the road and went into a ditch.
As well as puncturing two tyres Jones had also bent the steering. Rather than risk further damage to the car the pair chose to use super rally which allows a team to fix the car and return the next day, with a set amount of penalties added.
Sunday saw the crews tackle some of Jones's favourite welsh stages and this showed as he enjoyed a private battle with fellow amateur Steve Holder, the pair trading times throughout the day.
Eventually, after three days and over 200 kilometres of tough and treacherous rallying, Jones and Capewell returned to Cardiff both relived and proud with their achievement.
“What an experience this week has been,” Jones said. “The recce was quite an eye opener as neither of us knew what to expect. And it was pretty awesome to be rubbing shoulders with Seb Loeb and Valentino Rossi and all the other big boys. Everyone has been great and so helpful.
“I must say a big thanks to Geoff Jones Motorsport for once again giving me an awesome rally car – she didn't miss a beat all weekend.”
As of yet Neville has not finalised plans for 2009 but will begin the season with his traditional entry on the Red Kite Stages in January.
by Geoff Mayes