Nine of the 14 registered ST Trophy crews ventured into a wintry North Wales for the Cambrian Rally on Saturday 11th February. The crews set off from a cold and windy Llandudno and with a mix of familiar faces from 2016 season and several newcomers, it was going to be all eyes on the time sheets to see who was going to set the pace.
Tom Easson and Abi Haycock had teamed up this season so were obvious strong contenders with both already having a year in the ST's under their belt. The crews of Martin Auskerin with Jon Ross and Luke McLaren with Phil Kenny alongside had both made an impression on their one-off runs in the 2016 season so would be ones to watch. Jody McManus with the very experienced Jon Armstrong on the notes had made the long trip over the Irish Sea, he was looking forward to getting out in the forest stages in Wales feeling they were of a higher quality than those in his native Ireland.
Elspeth Rodgers was taking her first steps on gravel, this season progressing on from the Ford Ka she used on a number of single venue events. Her target for this event was to gain experience and learn the new car and surface. Mat Davies was playing his cards close to his chest before the start, as another 2016 competitor, he now had the experience to attack the stages and be at the sharp end of the leader board. Last years ST Trophy winning car was now in the hand of newcomer Rhydian Price. Rhydian with Peredur Davies on the notes was another of the young competitors hoping to use the championship as a stepping stone to bigger things. Guy Butler had teamed up with Jamie Mactavish and were using George Lepley's 2016 car, Guy was looking forward to tackling some of the same stages he had used on Rally GB where he claimed a class victory in November last year, as did Richard Wells and Calvin Houldsworth who were leading the ST's away on this event and after winning Rally First over the same events last year, was surely the one to watch.
Sadly only two of the cars, Richard and Jody, got to drive on the stages, the event getting cancelled on safety grounds due to the snow and ice in the stages. The 4-wheel drive cars struggled enough but it soon became apparent for the 2-wheel drive cars that the stages were becoming dangerous and in some places, impassable. The organisers took the tough decision to call off the event fearing rescue and medical vehicles would not be able to gain access if an incident occurred. All cars were rerouted back to Llandudno and the event was declared void meaning no points were scored.
As the championship has dropped an event, it now becomes the best 5 scores of 7 events that count towards the championship.
The next event is the Malcolm Wilson Rally in early March.