James Williams overcame an early trip into a field to head the Motorsport UK British Rally Championship contenders after the opening leg of the JDS Machinery Rali Ceredigion
The young Welshman, who excelled on home soil here last year, has been reunited with a Hyundai 20 Rally2 for the spectacular closed-road asphalt event and is just six stages away from his maiden BRC victory.
However, the brutal Welsh lanes are as unforgiving as it gets and a time-zapping off-road excursion on the second stage of the rally, dropped him and co-driver Dai Roberts down the order to sixth overall, behind rival Garry Pearson.
But a fightback over the remaining tests saw Williams vault back up the order, and even an impact with a bale after completing the double run of the crowd-pleasing Aberystwyth Street Stage couldn’t stop him from ending the leg in fourth overall and leading the BRC charge overnight.
“We have had a good day,” said Williams.
“This afternoon was much better, but I` don’t know what happened in there [Street Stage], it’s just mad. The time around the donut we had to just reverse and then the bale had moved and we just hit it.
“Tomorrow has three stages that I really like so hopefully we can have a good run and hunt this guy [second placed Meirion Evans] down.
It will be reigning BRC champion Osian Pryce who heads to bed with the rally lead however. Despite a scrappy opening loop, Pryce knuckled down to be the class of the field in his Volkswagen Polo GTi and enjoys a healthy 42-second rally lead into tomorrow’s six tests.
Early leader Meirion Evans is his nearest challenger, and after a puncture on the second test derailed his confidence, the Welsh driver was another to enjoy a solid afternoon in his Volkswagen Polo GTi, although neither Pryce nor Evans will take away BRC points from the weekend.
Garry Pearson came into the weekend second in the standings and is set to take another second place away from the season, currently lying sixth overall. Playing his joker, a consistent run will see him and Daniel Barritt score well and close in on series leader Adrien Fourmaux.
Swapping his National Rally Title campaign for the BRC1 category, Alan Carmichael debuted his Hyundai i20 N Rally2 at the event but was still adapting to left-hand drive after many years on the other side of the car. A shaky start, coupled with several ditch hugging moments, meant it was a baptism for the Northern Irishman and ultimately, a brush with the scenery, on the right-hand side, meant it was game over for him and co-driver Claire Williams during the second pass of the Nant-Y-Moch test, taking the wheel off the Hyundai.
Callum Black has one eye on the Protyre championship this weekend so elected to score National Rally Title points in his Fiesta Rally2. A clean run throughout the day saw him end the day in third place overall with Jack Morton on the notes and on track for a maximum category score. William Mains makes his first appearance of the season in his Vauxhall Nova 1400cc screamer and ends the day second.
Once again the Junior BRC fight is an intense one with home hero Ioan Lloyd leading for much of the day, but would just be edged out on the
Sunday houses six tests and 45 competitive miles before the champagne celebrations on the Aberystwyth seafront later in the afternoon.