Running on many of the same stages as the stars of the World Rally Championship in this weekends Rally Wales GB National event were some of the best of the UK National rally teams.
In an event covering two days and 75 stage miles Intrinsys Rally Team pairing of driver Roger Duckworth and Co-driver Mark Broomfield finished just 2.2 seconds ahead of last years winner Nigel Griffiths to claim the Wales Rally GB National honours.
The thrilling event began on Friday with the classic stages of Dyfi, Gartheiniog and Dyfnant in mid-Wales with typical Welsh weather of light to heavy rain. Coming out of the first stage all of the top drivers were complaining about the slippery surface and treacherous conditions but all had survived and the top five were covered by just 8.7 seconds. Irishman Michael O’Brien in his newly-acquired Ford Focus 2007 WRC topped the timesheets by just 0.2sec from 2011 BTRDA championship runner-up Roger Chilman in his Subaru WRC with Roger Duckworth and Nigel Griffiths close behind.
Two stages and 16 competitive miles later Chilman had taken the lead of the rally with a thirteen second lead over O’Brien followed by Duckworth and Griffiths who had been penalised 10 secs for a jump start on the first stage.
On the last stage of Day 1, Dyfnant, a long tightening left-hander had caught out O’Brien ending his rally and Duckworth having hit a large rock 3 miles from the end of the stage suffered with power steering failure and consequently lost 20 seconds as he struggled to man-handle the car through the rough hairpins to the finish.
After an evening of torrential rain in the service park at Builth Wells fixing and preparing the cars for the following days stages the teams retired and hoped for better weather the following day.
Prayers were answered and a glorious sunny morning greeted the teams at the Saturday restart. Chilman had a clear lead of 36 seconds from Griffiths who was just 2 seconds ahead of Duckworth and the battle was set to commence in 20 miles of Hafren forest. After those 20 miles Duckworth stopped the clocks fastest but only 0.3 secs quicker than Chilman with Griffiths just 5.2 secs further back, leaving Chilman clear in front but Duckworth now in second.
A short blast through the spectator-packed Sweet Lamb stage gave Duckworth another fastest time, Chilman still had his healthy lead and that left just the last 17 mile test in Myherin to sort out the final result.
Disaster struck Chilman when his engine inexplicably stopped 4 miles into the test leaving his hopes of glory in tatters and left a clear roadside sign to the following Duckworth and Griffiths that victory could be theirs. Both drivers pushed to the limit and Griffiths thought he had done enough when he stopped the clocks faster than Duckworth but the margin was insufficient to overhaul the earlier stage time differences leaving Duckworth the victor.
“I’d like to thank Intrinsys for their support throughout the season, Martyn, John and Steve at Autosportif for putting a fantastic car together and for the invaluable support of Steve and Mark at Kumho tyres; this result is a fantastic conclusion to a great year” said Duckworth.