Six crews headed for the Builth Wells showground for Round 6 of the MRF ST Trophy. The previous few weeks had been sunny, hot & dry and despite a heavy shower on Friday lunchtime the stages were still going to be dry and dusty.
Zak Hughes & Tom Wood led the field away and into the first stage. This was a new stage for the event and Zak threw caution, literally, to the wind over a crest and topped the leader board at the flying finish, as well as achieving a new high jump record for a Fiesta ST in Wales.
James Gddings & Sion Cuniff matched times with Ewan Tindall & Paul Hudson over the opening 5 miles with Kalvin Green & Osian Owen just 6 seconds behind. Mat & Tim Tordoff were in 5th with Martin Laverty & Phil Kenny rounding off the Trophy crews.
The pace stayed tight at the top over the next couple of stages with the top 4 behind split by only a handful of seconds.
Mat & Tim Tordoff suffered a puncture in Stage 3 and dropped some time but were determined to push on in the afternoon to claw back the lost minutes.
Green & Owen had upped their pace and were getting closer to Tindall & Hudson, the gap only 2 seconds after stage 3 and with Tindall only 6 seconds adrift of Giddings in 3rd who was 6 seconds shy of the leading Hughes it was going to be an epic fight for honours ahead.
Sadly the stage 4 start line was as far as the popular crew of Laverty & Kenny were going to get, a snapped shaft grinding their event to a halt.
The five remaining crews came into service back at the Royal Welsh Showground, all having enjoyed the close battle a one make series brings, the stages were fast and in good condition so it was all to play for in the afternoon loop.
Zak kept pushing hard and despite suffering a little front end damage was still leading the way. James started the afternoon stages 5 seconds behind but dropped a couple of second over the next 2 stages until disaster struck in Halfway 2 when they suffered a puncture. The crew tried to push on but under steered off the stage and hit a rock ending their rally. Ewan had been dropping a few seconds each stage to the 2 crews ahead but seeing the stricken Giddings on Stage 7 they knew they just needed to keep their noses clean for the final 2 stages for a podium position. Another crew to drop by the way side was Green & Owen, a fuel issue after stage 7 making them the 3rd ST on the retirement list.
Mat & Tim Tordoff's day went from bad to worse, they were trying to claw back some of the lost time with the puncture when they lost their power steering after a heavy impact, Mat needing to manhandle the car through the final 2 stages, but having seen the retirements around him knew he had to dig deep and struggle on for some important championship points.
The final 3 crews made it back to the ceremonial finish on the banks of the river Wye with Zak Hughes & Tom Wood getting to spray the Champagne in 1st place. Ewan Tindall & Paul Hudson took the 2nd spot and the Tordoff's managed to nurse their car home to a well deserved 3rd.
James Giddings still leads the championship with Mathew Tordoff only 3 points behind. 9 points adrift is Zak and with Kalvin only 2 points behind in 4th and Ewan Tindall only 2 points behind that in 5th it is still all to play for over the next 2 rounds.
The championship now has a short summer break before the excitement continues in Ludlow for the Woodpecker Stages on 1st September.
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