2nd place with a Bang!
It was back to Welsh National Rally Championship action last weekend for Warwick’s Matthew Jackson and South Wales resident Claire Williams on the infamous Rally North Wales. The Dolgellau based rally attracted a large crowd as the crews were set to face 45 of the trickiest stages North Wales has to offer.
Having previously entered the rally in 2012, Jackson was hoping for a better conclusion than the previous attempt when the fuel pump failed in just the second stage. After Jackson and Williams’ recent podium successes on the opening two rallies in this year’s BTRDA championship, the young dynamic pairing were confident ahead of the start in Dolgellau.
It soon became apparent in the opening miles that their initial confidence would be short lived. From the outset, they were very much frantically fighting a losing battle against the adverse weather conditions and as a result, the windscreen misting up throughout the tricky stages drastically reducing the visibility for the 2015 2300 Club John Easson award winner. Despite their relentless efforts to clear the screen before each stage, the pair were eventually forced to slow and do the same in-stage thus sacrificing precious seconds stage after stage to their rivals.
Much to their surprise, they were astonished to discover on entering the mid-day service that despite the morning’s dramas, they were holding the all too familiar 2nd position in class. With conditions continuing to look bleak for the afternoon stages, Williams and Jackson looked to consolidate their position and salvage a decent points haul from a poor rally.
Unbeknown to the pair, the day was yet to deal them its final blow. With a sudden yet slight lift in the damp conditions ahead of the final stage of the rally, they opted to launch one last push to redeem themselves and end their rally on high. With less than a mile until the finish line of the final stage, a pool of standing water on the inside of a fast corner sent the PowerMaxed supported Nissan Micra into a sudden high speed spin which resulted in a heavy impact on a nearby embankment. Luckily, neither crew member was hurt and nothing mechanical was damaged in the impact, but with significant body damage to the front of the car, the pair lost vast amounts of time turning the car to face in the right direction amidst the steam from the crash. Remarkably, with their grit and determination to cross the nearby finish line, they managed to limp home, still holding onto 2nd in class position; their 3rd podium from 3 rallies.
“It’s such a shame the rally ended like it did. We were simply caught out with the depth of the water and we were passengers from there. I think we were very fortunate not to roll as I’ve seen it happen in a lot of crashes like that. It would have been game over for our championship I think”, explained Jackson.
“We’re still in one piece though and with another podium, we’re in a good position in all the championships so we have to remain positive in order to keep our ANWCC Championship lead and class lead in the MSA Pirelli Welsh Championship.”
With a brief respite until their next rally, Jackson faces an uphill battle in terms of both time and financially in order to ensure that the car will be fighting fit in time for the Plains Rally in May. Undeterred, the team will be working tirelessly to ensure they will be at the next event in order to continue the chase for championship title.