ELFYN Evans and co-driver Craig Parry are the winners of the Nicky Grist Stages last weekend (Jul 9-10), taking victory on round five of the seven round MSA British Rally Championship.
The DMACK British Rally Team driver made it three wins from five, which is his second ‘home’ victory in Wales this season.
Fellow Welshman Tom Cave equalled his season best with a fine second while Desi Henry completed the podium after a tough two-day encounter.
Based in Builth Wells, the Nicky Grist Stages is a unique event on the BRC calendar with the two days split into two surfaces.
Biblical weather greeted the competitors on the opening day, with crews slipping and sliding through 45 miles of forestry gravel stages before tackling the famous Tarmac on the Epynt Ranges on the second day.
It wasn’t just the crews inside the car who were tested this weekend, as the service teams had just two-and-a-half-hours on Saturday evening to convert the cars from mud-slinging monsters into Tarmac-hugging weapons.
Series leader Evans had a difficult start to the event, as the Ford Fiesta R5 driver was not to have it all his own way, with a spin on the opening stage and pop-off valve problems on the second.
Undeterred by these early issues, the Welshman swiftly got back into his dominating stride, topping the time sheets on 12 of the event’s 15 stages to finish with a healthy one minute 11.4 second margin as the cars returned to Builth Wells for the Ceremonial Finish.
It was to be fellow countryman Cave in his Michelin-shod Ford Fiesta R5 who drew first blood, however, setting fastest time on the opening stage of the rally.
Cave would lead the event until an inspired Evans snatched the advantage on the third stage.
Thereafter, Cave couldn’t live with Evans’ pace but showed his own improvement in speed by recording another second place and his third podium of the year – result that has helped him to leap-frog Fredrik Ahlin into second place in the championship points standings with two rounds remaining on the calendar. Ahlin missed out on a points haul after retiring on the opening day.
Henry picked-up from where he left off in Scotland with another fine third position in his Skoda Fabia R5.
The Northern Ireland driver started off cautiously but gathered pace as he flew through the gravel stages.
It wasn’t to be plain sailing for the likeable Irishman, though, as he took a big cut on the opening day nearly sending the Skoda onto its roof.
With the Fabia safely back on all four wheels, Desi pressed on – more so when the competition switched to his preferred sealed-surface. Eager to hold station, Henry chalked up a fastest time on stage 12, showing his asphalt form which, in turn, elevated him up the championship points table at the end of the mid -Wales event.
Speaking on his win, Elfyn Evans said: “We are happy with how the event went and it wasn’t easy as the conditions were very challenging. We had a spin on the first stage and from there we had to bring it together. When we got the lead, and when things were difficult, I had spare capacity to keep it calm.
“In rallying, anything can happen and with double points on the Isle of Man finale, this will leave it open until the last round, so we have to keep on it, keep pushing and keep winning.”
Tom Cave said: “I am very pleased with second as it is good for the team and for the championship. Things have progressed even more this weekend, more than we had hoped. Our pace on both surfaces was encouraging especially on Tarmac on the second day.
“We knew it would be difficult to beat Elfyn this weekend but I have learnt a lot from chasing him and want to be even closer on the Ulster next time out. Second in the championship is good but we will keep working hard and keep making progress forward.”
Gascoigne entertains Llanelli
OVER 400 people were at attendance in the Selwyn Samuel Centre in Llanelli on Saturday (Jun 18) to see former England legend Paul Gascoigne talk about his life and footballing career.
Gazza had the crowd in stitches with his stories from his past and was visibly emotional with the crowd’s warm reaction to him being there.
At one point a member of the crowd asked him if he could play one last game for one team who would it be… his answer was Swansea City to the crowds delight.
His next event will be in Tenby on September 17. The event was kindly sponsored by RDH Contractors and Sylan Lakes holiday cottages in five roads.
Ryan Giggs quits as Wales manager with ‘immediate effect’
EX Man-Utd winger has left his position as the manager of the national football team with ‘immediate effect’.
Giggs stepped back from his role in November 2020 following after being arrested.
49-year-old Giggs has been charged with assault and using controlling behaviour towards an ex-partner. A claim that Giggs has denied.
In a heartfelt statement on his decision, Giggs said: “After much consideration, I am standing down from my position as manager of the Wales men’s national team with immediate effect.
“It has been an honour and a privilege to manage my country, but it is only right that the Wales FA, the coaching staff and the players prepare for the tournament with certainty, clarification and without speculation around the position of their head coach.
“I do not want the country’s preparations for the World Cup to be affected, destabilised or jeopardised in any way by the continued interest around this case.
“I am sad that we cannot continue this journey together because I believe that this extraordinary group will make the country proud at our first World Cup since 1958.
“It is my intention to resume my managerial career at a later date.”
Following Giggs arrest in 2020, former Wales captain Robert Page took over as interim manager.
Under Page Wales beat Ukraine to earn themselves a place at Qatar World Cup for the first time in 64 years.
Giggs faces one charge of using controlling and coercive behaviour August 2017 and November 2020, one charge of assault causing actual bodily harm of his ex-girlfriend Kate Greville on November 1, 2020.
He also faces a charge of common assault on the victim’s sister.
Giggs denies all charges against him and will stand trial on August 8.
The trial is expected to last five days.
Following the announcement, a FAW spokesperson said: “The FAW places on record its gratitude to Ryan Giggs for his tenure as manager of the Cymru men’s national team and appreciates the decision he has taken, which is in the best interests of Welsh football,
“The full focus of the FAW and the Cymru men’s national team is on the Fifa World Cup in Qatar later this year.”
Llanelli edged out as Ynystawe pull off mammoth chase
A SCORE of 331-4 would normally be enough for a team to pick up victory, but South Wales Premier Division 2 leaders Ynystawe had other ideas as they pulled off a remarkable chase on Saturday (Jun 4).
Llanelli had been asked to bat first after Ynystawe had won the toss and their total was underpinned by a brilliant unbeaten century from Iwan Rees.
The opener hit sixteen fours and four sixes in his knock of 153 which came off 146 balls.
He had good support from Steven Devonald who scored 29 and Rhydian Morgan who scored 20 (2 fours, 1 six).
Rees and Rhys Harris shared the best stand of the match as they put on 157 runs for the fourth wicket.
Harris hit 12 fours in his score of 87 from 74 balls but he was out to the bowling of Rhys Palmer.
Rhys Westcott also finished unbeaten on 18 from 11 balls as Ynystawe were set 332 to win the game.
In reply, opener Nathan Lee scored 20 before falling to Jac Rees who also then took the wicket of Morgan Hodges on a score of 23.
Carl Roberts played well for his half century, hitting eight fours in his score of 56 before being trapped leg before by Aled Gilley.
Andrew Beasley was run out on a score of 15 and that left Ynystawe on 140-4.
Thomas Morgan and Luke Garthwaite shared 93 runs for the fifth wicket. Both reached their half centuries but Morgan was out to Iwan Rees on a score of 50.
Rees also bowled Ceri Durke and Rhys Palmer was run out by Rhydian Morgan having hit a four and a six in a quickfire score of 15.
That left Ynystawe 275-7 and they only had six overs left to get their target.
Garthwaite was on a score of 75 when Palmer fell and he took control as he smashed his way to a century.
He finished unbeaten on 118 from 67 balls after hitting 20 fours and two sixes. The last of his fours won the game for the home side as they ended up winning with two overs to spare.
On Saturday, June 11, Llanelli host Cowbridge while Ynynstawe travel to Penarth.
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