Ruairi Bell ticked an important box in his rallying career this weekend, taking the Motorsport UK British Rally Championship victory at the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally [28-29 October].
After standing on the BRC podium no less than three times this season, the London-based rally driver had never managed to take his Pirelli-shod Skoda Fabia onto the top step. But a stellar performance across the treacherously muddy North Wales stages, saw Bell and co-driver Max Freeman finally claim the honour to end their BRC campaign on a high.
After taking the BRC lead across the opening gravel test of the rally on Saturday morning, Bell would never look back and would go on to battle with World Rally Championship ace Oliver Solberg for the overall rally win. Whilst Solberg would dominate his focus was that elusive British Championship victory and the 22-year-old returned a mature performance over the closing stages to take an instrumental win.
“It’s been such a difficult weekend out on the stages and we have had three podiums on the trot now and so to end our year with a win is just phenomenal,” said a delighted Bell.
“It’s been a fantastic season for us [in the BRC] and we have progressed with every single rally. We have really managed to put it all together this weekend and I must say a huge thanks to our sponsors and backers for all their support to help me get to this point, and they have all been instrumental in this result.
“I’m very excited to continue to grow and improve and see what next season holds for us”.
There was a different name at the head of the BRC leaderboard after two unique closed-road asphalt stages under the cover of darkness on Friday night kicked off proceedings. It was the Hankook-backed Skoda Fabia of Garry Pearson and Dale Furniss who set the pace on the opener to lead overnight.
But once the event headed for the forests in the daylight of Saturday, Bell took control and led from the front throughout the day. However, the morning belonged to James Williams and Dai Roberts in their Michelin-equipped Hyundai i20.
A boost pipe failure on Saturday night dropped them just under two minutes but the fightback began on Saturday, taking three fastest BRC times in a row. A second pipe failure and a brush with a bale once again halted progress but the luckless pairing eventually recovered to third and with the Joker points allocation, sealed third in the championship in the process.
A sensational second place went to reigning Junior BRC champions Eamonn Kelly and Conor Mohan who were making their debut in BRC1 machinery on the world-class gravel tests. Kelly enjoyed a progressive weekend behind the wheel of his Volkswagen Polo GTi, gradually bedding into the new machine and rounded out the weekend perfectly, taking the fastest overall stage time on the final test.
In the Junior BRC, it was a rally of attrition after early leaders Fraser Anderson and Shane Byrne was forced to retire with engine issues in their Fiesta Rally4 before the opening gravel stage on Saturday. Ioan Lloyd and Sion Williams assumed that position in their Peugeot 208 Rally4 but failed to emerge from the second running of Brenig, parking up with a technical issue.
Step forward Johnnie Mulholland and Eoin Treacy who threaded their Fiesta Rally4 through the forests to a trouble-free run and scoop their maiden Junior BRC win and vaults them to the vice-champion position in the standings.
Upholding National honours, William Mains and Emily Easton-Page were eager to take the gravel in their Corsa after a rollercoaster of a season in the series. Sadly, engine issues forced them out before service.
The Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally marks the final round of the 2022 season, and the British Rally Championship now looks to next year, after the 2023 roster was released last week.