Outstanding and tremendous. Two words that were heard rather a lot when the MG Xpower foursome of Gwyndaf Evans, Claire Mole, Tony Jardine and Kevin Eason reached the end of the Wales Rally GB today in Cardiff.

Competing in the Group N3 class for near showroom specification cars, the ZR of Gwyndaf and Claire truly put on a giant killing performance to come home in 27th place in the overall standings, and top in its class. Tony and Kevin meanwhile drove solidly to the finish and recorded 37th in the overall standings.

After four days of action, from the opening Super Special in Cardiff bay on Saturday night to the final stage on Sunday afternoon, the MG ZR effort proved to be faultless, whilst so many others dropped off the road or suffered reliability problems the two MG ZRs kept on running, and in Gwyndaf's case, running solidly upwards on the leaderboard.

What made the MG achievement in a World Rally Championship round all the more impressive was that the event was so tough. Out on the stages the rocks and ruts were very substantial and the battering the showroom spec components received was quite something; after all, plenty of World Rally Cars costing more than ten times the amount the MG does didn't make it to the finish ramp.

Come the finish ramp in front of Cardiff's civic buildings, Gwyndaf's received a superb reception. "It's absolutely fantastic," said the Welshman. "I hardly thought we'd finish this rally let alone finish 27th overall in a world championship rally, in what is basically the showroom category MG ZR, it's absolutely incredible."

Co-driving for Gwyndaf this year has been Claire Mole, and she was beaming despite the rain that greeted them in Cardiff. "I'm absolutely delighted, I never thought we'd make it to the finish," said Claire. "I've been in the rally five times now and this is my fourth finish, and to finish in 27th it's just tremendous, and we've won the class by over thirty minutes."

So Claire's first Wales Rally GB in a Group N ZR went rather well from the co-driver's seat then? "It's just been an absolute credit to MG, it's a brilliant little car."

The car that was second in class was the Sportinglife.com and Michelin backed ZR of Tony Jardine and Kevin Eason, and the pairing had a rather more fraught time than the lead MG, but one thing remained constant, the superb performance of their steed.

"It's been a tremendous experience and as usual the car hasn't let us down at all, it's been tremendous," said a very happy Jardine in Cardiff. "We had a puncture on the final stage, that's the only drama we had. On the penultimate stage we had a couple of very hairy moments where we actually touched the bank and ran wide on another corner, but we got it back on and it's just been incredibly enjoyable."

"We're first and second in class - Gwyndaf's 27th, we're 37th, MG is delighted with that and really there's nothing that you can fault on the performance of the car," concluded a very happy PR man, even if he did have to prepare his evening speech in the car between stages. Beside Tony in the car was the rally's rear of the year - as voted by the female stage officials - Kevin Eason.

"Considering this is the first rally we've done entirely to our own notes I would say it's a pretty outstanding success really," said Kevin after the rally was over. "Today's been absolutely first class."

So just how did Gwyndaf achieve so much in a car that is so very nearly exactly as it leaves the showroom? "I've had a car that's been 100% reliable, the boys haven't had to do anything on it, it's quite remarkable really, and we were keeping ourselves out of trouble and we kept the foot in. It's been good."

 

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