Ready for the Wyedean
This Saturday’s staging of the much-loved Wyedean Rally (18 November) in the ancient Forest of Dean is a high-profile scoring round of both Motorsport UK’s English and Pirelli Welsh Rally Championships.
With just two events remaining in the English Rally Championship, Yorkshire’s Elliot Payne and Tom Woodburn lead the way in their Ford Fiesta Rally2 but they are being chased hard by the Mitsubishi Evo 9 pairing of Russ Thompson and Stephen Link and Arron Newby and Jamie Edwards in a Skoda Fabia R4.
Among those contesting the Welsh Championship, last year’s Wyedean winners Matthew Hirst and Declan Dear are set to be crowned as 2023 champions in the season’s finale. Doncaster-based Hirst could secure his third Pirelli Welsh title in four years and aiming to add to his two previous Wyedean victories of 2019 and ’22.
Simon Rogers currently holds second place, but the ‘two scores to drop’ rule means that he can’t win the title outright, so the runners-up spot would be the highest possible finishing position for the rapid Radlett driver. Co-driven by James How, the Wyedean hasn’t always been a lucky rally for the MacWhirter Motorsport-prepared Mitsubishi Evo 6 driver, as his last finish on the event was in 2017.
Martyn Andrews is four points behind in third, having scored highly on all six previous rounds in his Opie Oils Subaru Impreza STi N12. Such has been the Welwyn Garden City pilot’s performance this year that he won the Welsh Challenge title some time ago, while Steve Greenhill has also secured the Welsh Challenge co-drivers’ crown and leads the overall co-driver’s standings.
Wug Utting arrives at the final round in fifth and could still finish third in the series. Co-driven by Bob Stokoe, he’s had a fantastic season in his Geoff Jones Motorsport-prepared Subaru Impreza N12b – and, having travelled from his home in Gatwick (the Surrey village, not the airport) to every round this year, the Wyedean is his ‘local’ Pirelli Welsh event.
Other potential outright winners on the near capacity entry list include ITRC front runner Meirion Evans in the family run VW Polo R5 and talented youngster Rob Wilson, while Nik Elsmore will be looking to emulate his father Graham by taking his third win on the event. Graham won three times back in the seventies.
Twice British Rally Championship winner David Llewellin won the event in 1985 and ’90 and this time his son Tom will be in action driving a Weir Rallying Ford Escort RS1800 Mk2. Co-driven by Sion Williams, don’t be surprised to see the former Welsh Junior champion challenging for a top 10 Pirelli Welsh overall position.
As well attracting entries – and thus bringing both custom and revenue – from right around the UK, the Wyedean is a torch-bearer for the local community with many crews from near-by eagerly anticipating a chance to compete close to home in front of families and friends.
Among those, Bob Morgan is more than capable of taking victory in his Skoda Fabia R5. Another huge favourite with spectators is leading appearance holder – and Mini ace – Eric Davis who used to live right in the middle of the Serridge stage.
A large number of local rallying families are out in force, too, some teaming up others competing in opposition. The newly crowned BTRDA 1400 champions Nigel and Karen Jenkins are among those who live in the area and Karen’s son Luke Watts in another of the talented young drivers.
Organised by Dean Motor Club, the 45th running of the Wyedean will contain seven special stages totalling 41 miles in the picturesque Forest of Dean. There will be three stages in the morning, a midday service halt at Coleford, followed by a re-run of the three stages, a return for a final service and, finally, a run through a single stage before the finish. The first car will leave the start at Folly Farm in Coleford at 08:00 and return there for the ceremonial finish at 17:00. Rally headquarters will be at the nearby Forest Hills Golf Club.
The Wyedean Rally will be live streamed on the Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship’s and Special Stage TV’s Facebook pages during the event, featuring action from all the registered competitors.
For full details and spectator information visit www.wyedeanstages.co.uk