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Not Plain sailing for Jackson in Welshpool

The 4th rounds for the BTRDA and Pirelli Welsh National Gravel Championships, the Plains Rally was set to be a storming event. would descend on the small Welsh town of Welshpool would once again welcome a sell-out entry of a 150 competing crews and their support teams for the 50th running of the event.

Despite their crash on their previous outing in the Welsh forestry in April, Matthew Jackson and co-driver Claire Williams would have their 1400cc Nissan Micra back in once piece and ready once again to do battle. Even with the substantial damage they incurred on Rally North Wales, the pair have enjoyed a relatively successful season thus far with 3 podiums from 3 rallies and were hoping to continue their solid form.

However, the reality was somewhat off track and although they set a steady pace through the opening stage whilst getting to grips with the newly improved gearbox, Jackson was quick to report clutch problems to the end of stage media crews. With remote assistance from their service crews prohibited between stages on this rally, the 2300 Club John Easson award winner carried out temporary roadside repairs to ensure they could continue. However, the rally duo would soon encounter a far greater problem when the Nissan’s power steering gradually failed throughout stages 2 and 3, resulting in Jackson facing a mammoth and exhausting drive in the notoriously tight and twisty stages which was once again hampered by the recurring clutch cable issue.

With the problems they were encountering, the pair welcomed the midday service halt which would allow their service teams to repair the issues from the morning loop of stages. Unfortunately, on further inspection of the power steering system, a severe and relentless leak of hydraulic fluid would prove to be terminal. Given the power steering system powers other vital components, Jackson and Williams had to take the difficult decision to retire from the remainder of rally in order to save the engine from any potential damage as a result of the power steering failing.

A disappointing end to what could potentially be one of the last rallies on Welsh soil but it’s now back to the drawing board for the PowerMaxed support pairing ahead of the remaining championship rounds to ensure they can maximise their chances in securing the points on offer.

Welsh Rallying has come under a grave threat over the last few weeks following the announcement that National Resource Wales (NRW) intend on doubling the costs to use the Welsh forestry lands which they manage for the purpose for motor sport rallying from the 1st June.

This startling news has caused serious concern amongst all those involved with rallying, not just in Wales but UK wide and globally as the unsustainable increase in costs would most definitely bring about the end of rallying in the world famous forestry stages of Wales. The rallying community have been quick to react to the news and have swiftly lobbied Welsh Assembly Ministers to investigate NRW’s claims and the social media campaign Rally4Wales (#rally4wales on social media) has been set up to gather support to save Welsh Rallying.

This is a very uncertain time for the sport in Wales and for all those who thrive on the injection of £15million the sport brings to rural Welsh economies” explained Jackson.

“Fees have already been agreed between the Motor Sport Association and the Forestry Commissions in England and Scotland which include only a 0.7% increase, so it’s simply ludicrous that National Resource Wales are even contemplating a 100% increase in Wales”, he added. For more information on this incredible situation, please search Rally4Wales to show your support for this amazing sport.

Credit to JMS Photographic for the image

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