James Williams and Dai Roberts head into the second day of the Get Connected Rali Ceredigion with a slender two second lead, after an action-packed first leg dealt a huge blow to Keith Cronin’s fifth title chase.
Williams powered his Hyundai i20 N Rally2 through the four stages in a fine display of finesse, quickly adapting to the new machinery which was making its UK debut on the event in the hands of the Welshman.
But it was Cronin who led the charge early on, getting out front after the Aberystwyth town stages and edging out a seven second lead after a stunning time over the first proper moorland stage.
However, it would all unravel for the Irishman on the 11-mile Devil’s Bridge, when Cronin would leave the road around half a mile into the stage, rolling his Volkswagen Polo GTi and blocking the road. Eager to secure maximum points it would be a cruel blow to his title chase, playing right into the hands of Osian Pryce who was battling his own issues during the evening.
Boost issues hampered progress for Pryce, but the Melvyn Evans Motorsport squad member had done enough to stay second, just two seconds adrift from Williams.
The stage stoppage handed a brace of following crews Pryce’s impressive time which would ultimately shake up the leaderboard. Meirion Evans sits in third in the sister Polo GTi whilst Garry Pearson suffered with a broken lamp bar in fourth. The light shining into the screen hampered progress for the Scot.
Ruairi Bell had to make a three point turn early on in the Devil’s Bridge test and spent the rest of the stage regretting his mistake; ending the leg fifth in his Skoda Fabia.
National Rally Title contender Alan Carmichael was running as high as third overall after the seafront stages, but fell down the order once the rally headed out onto the moorland. A brush with the same bank that claimed Cronin left the Hyundai with some panel damage, but he still has an impressive lead over the chasing Craig Jones.
Eamonn Kelly is on course to scoop the Junior BRC title in Wales, leading the progressive youngsters after the opening leg. Kelly and co-driver Conor Mohan where trailing Kyle White’s Peugeot 208 Rally2 after the opening two stages, before pulling back over eight seconds on the third to sit in the box seat heading into Sunday.
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Provisional BRC Top 5 After Day 1 – Rali Ceredigion
- Williams/Roberts 15m19.5s
- Pryce/O’Sullivan +1.9s
- Evans/Jackson +2.4s
- Pearson/Furniss +40.2s
- Bell/Freeman +44s