James Williams secured his very first Motorsport UK British Rally Championship victory at the weekend, by taking third overall at the fifth round of the series, the JDS Machinery Rali Ceredigion [2-3 September].
The 25-year-old Newcastle Emlyn driver and co-driver Dai Roberts excelled on home soil after being reunited with a Michelin-shod Hyundai i20 N Rally2, setting a scintillating pace throughout the weekend to finally seal Williams’ maiden BRC top score, a result he has hankered after since entering the Junior BRC category in 2017.
“I’m delighted to take my first BRC win and it’s fair to say, it’s well deserved,” said Williams.
“I’m sad it’s not the overall win too, but it’s good to get a BRC win and get that duck off my back. It’s been a long time coming & it’s about getting comfortable in the car which is showing a few battle scars. I have to say a huge thanks to the team, my supporters, sponsors, the hospitality team & the local sponsors that have come on board too. Every single one of them has helped to make this happen & I know it’s taken me a while to get up to speed but it’s fantastic to show them what I can do.”
“[I feel like] I am back in the room, I just need to get back into this Hyundai and get some more seat time to really make the most of it”.
The Aberystwyth-based event would provide 100 breathtaking stage miles spread across two days, with the super-fast, undulating moorland roads complimented by narrow, hedge-lined lanes to offer one of the toughest challenges on the BRC calendar. The Ceredigion lanes attracted thousands of fans to watch the action on the stages with a truly international feel to the event adding a very special buzz to the region and the rallying community over the two days of competitive driving.
Inch-perfect precision would be required to make the most out of the task ahead and Williams set his stall out early, with third overall on the opening stage and just five seconds shy of early rally leader Meirion Evans. But the brutal Welsh lanes bite back, and Williams made it an uphill task for the remainder of the weekend by taking a trip into a field on the second test, dropping him down the order to sixth.
But the fightback was on for the young charger and despite a brush with a bale on the fan-packed Aberystwyth Street Stage, Williams’ intent was clear. Setting four four scratch times during the second day of the event, he clawed his way back onto the rally podium and with it, that all-important BRC victory. Made even sweeter by playing his bonus points-inducing Joker card, netting him the full five additional points for his win.
Whilst rally winner, 2022 British Rally Champion Osian Pryce and co-driver Stephane Prevot were able to take a convincing win, it would be Garry Pearson and Daniel Barritt who took yet another BRC runner-up spot in their Hankook-backed Volkswagen Polo GTi. Pearson enjoyed a largely trouble-free weekend behind the wheel, even briefly leading the BRC chargers after Williams’ excursion.
But the Scot would be forced to settle for second behind a charging Williams, however, he remains the closest charger to series leader Adrien Fourmaux with two rounds remaining this season.
Alan Carmichael threw his hat into the BRC1 category ring after acquiring a brand new Hyundai i20 N Rally2 at the start of the week. But the Northern Irishman would struggle to adapt to left-hand-drive from the outset. After progressively upping his pace over the opening day, a heavy impact on the front right would eventually put him and co-driver Claire Williams out of the event.
The Junior BRC battle has never failed to deliver this season and Rali Ceredigion provided the perfect stage for another toe-to-toe duel.
After five tricky stages, it was Ioan Lloyd who held the early advantage in his Peugeot 208 Rally4, with Kyle White just over five seconds down in his similar machine. But White stole the march over the rest of the day’s stages to hold the category lead overnight.
However, the Welsh pairing of Lloyd and co-driver Sion Williams excelled on local soil, moving back into the lead on the second stage of Sunday and were never headed, to take their first Junior BRC victory in front of a delighted home crowd.
With Lloyd not taking points away from the weekend, White would be awarded the full 25 points but still needs another solid result to secure the championship. Still able to usurp that plan is Kyle McBride and Liam McIntyre in the Fiesta Rally4, however, it was a rally to forget for the youngsters.
After running third in the category for much of the event, an excursion over a jump on the second of Sunday’s tests, put the Fiesta into the grass and would be forced to remain there for the day with a broken ball joint, their first non-finish of the season.
The return of Callum Black to the series saw the Brackley driver enter the National Rally Title contest in his Pirelli rubbered Ford Fiesta Rally2 and would never be far away from the overall rally podium spots all weekend. In fact, Black and co-driver Jack Morton enjoyed a brief spell in second overall before being overhauled but would settle four fourth and maximum National points in the process.
After most of the year on the sidelines, William Mains brought his giant-killing Vauxhall Nova back to the category for his first outing of the season. The Welshman secured a class win on his way to second in the National Rally Title with Tomos Whittle on the notes.
The British Rally Championship now returns to the gravel for the final two rounds of the season, as Trackrod Rally Yorkshire provides classic Dalby stages at the end of September and the penultimate encounter of 2023.