Nik Elsmore won the Get Connected! Wyedean Forest Rally for the second time in his career last weekend - and he now needs only one more victory to equal the hat-trick taken by his father, Graham in the 1970s.

Overcoming extremely tricky conditions caused by snow and ice on the special stages in the Forest of Dean, Elsmore and co-driver Craig Dew brought their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 to the finish at Chepstow Racecourse ahead of the similar car of Daniel Barry and Martin Brady.

Indeed, it was only through the grit and determination of the organisers, Forest of Dean Motor Club Ltd, that the event took place at all.

Heavy overnight snow on the Thursday made travel of any sort through the area very difficult and, by breakfast time on the Friday, the situation was not looking good at all.

However, some minor alterations to the schedule and the deployment of a snow plough through the special stages in the forest saw 160 crews take the start at Chepstow Racecourse on Saturday morning and an enjoyable, but challenging, event was underway.

2008 Wyedean winners Andy Burton and Shelley Rogerson led for the first couple of stages but then lost half a minute to the eventual winners on the run through Speech House and were unable to make up the deficit before the finish.

Nigel Griffiths and Robin Kellard came in fourth, while Thomas Naughton and Horace Saville were fifth followed by Yorkshire crew Charlie Payne and Craig Thorley, who rounded off the top six in another Lancer.

Two-wheel drive honours went to the Ford Escort RS of Mick Jones and Dale Furniss, ahead of Irishmen Adrian Hetherington and Gary Nolan in their larger-engined version.

Third went to the Vauxhall Nova of Julian Wilkes and Andy Ballantyne, who also dominated the 1400cc category with a winning margin of five-and-a-half minutes.

The Wyedean was also the first round of the Silverstone Tyres BTRDA Rally Series, of which their Rally First initiative is becoming an increasingly important constituent part.

20 crews had entered in their up-to-1400cc cars to which limited modifications are permitted and it was last year's second-placed co-driver Chris Jones, who has swopped seats for the new season, coming out on top in his Nissan Micra. The Daihatsu Sirion of Peter Scott and Graham Dance was next, with 2008 champion Jason Hopkins third.

Retirements, although lower than might reasonably be expected on such a day, included event sponsor Damian Cole, who's Hyundai Accent WRC went out on the opening stage with engine failure and Isle of Wight resident Will Nicholls, who was on his way back to catch the return ferry earlier than he expected after finding his Subaru Impreza WRC too much of a handful without a supply of the necessary snow tyres.



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