Rowcliffe cambrian

Huw and Owen Rowcliffe on their way to victory on the Cambrian (Joseph John Gilbertson)

              On the 18th and 19th of January Tregaron motor club held the first welsh road rally of the year, a 60-mile closed to club event that also included a test at the Mid Wales activity centre in Pontrhydfendigaid. In among the sixty entrants the rally gained were a handful of Lampeter members, with the first being at car 2, which went to Malcom “tar” Jones who was making a rare appearance in the lanes, with him was regular navigator Dafydd Evans who was using the event as a shakedown ready for the Welsh championship that would begin a month later. They were out in Malcolm’s Peugeot 206 GTI. At car 9 was Arfon Griffiths who was navigating for Barry Jones. It was the first road rally for a number of years for Barry and Arfon would be helping him get back into the swing of things on this event. They were using a Mk2 Ford escort. At 12 were another Peugeot 206, this one being crewed by Jonathon Davies and Andrew Gaunt. Down in the semi expert class would be another Peugeot 206, occupied by father and son team Huw Rowcliffe and Owen Rowcliffe. They started at 31.

                Before competitors headed into the lanes of OS 135 and 146 there was a test to compete over first. Here it was Malcolm and Dafydd that were best among club members as they set the second-best time as they completed their lap around the anti-clockwise circuit in an excellent 5 minutes and 1 second. Jonathon Davies and Andrew Gaunt were next in their 206 as they stopped the clock on 5 minutes and 9 seconds. A time that was good enough for sixth overall. Huw and Owen were next as they managed a highly respectful 5 minutes and 20 seconds which saw them in fifteenth overall as well as being the leading semi expert crew. Barry and Afron were in fifty-third with a time of 6 minutes and 42 seconds.

                With the test taken care of it was off into the lanes for the meat of the event. Weather conditions were very tricky as the temperature plummeted to freezing frost became and issue over all the lanes and black ice featured on higher ground making going tricky. Unfortunately, due to a misunderstanding of the timing schedule some competitors had clocked out of the plotting zone at the incorrect time, giving them fails before they had properly begun the rally. Sadly, Malcolm and Dafydd were one of those affected and so received a fail.

                The first section was a two-mile affair that took place between Penllwynbedw and Rhyd-y-Pandy. Many of the front running competitors passed through here penalty free although Huw and Owen picked up 10 seconds. The next section of the event was 34 miles long non stop with a number of time controls. This section began to the east of Tregaron and used the lanes that came out on the Bronnant main road. From here the route then went towards the coast and included a very tight section at Time control 9 that was located at Blaenpennal. This control was timed to the minute and most competitors picked up at least 1 minute, with the exception being Malcolm and Dafydd who managed to passthrough here without gaining any penalties. Unfortunately, it was along this section where Barry and Arfon retired with their escort’s engine giving them trouble so they were forced into retirement.

                There was a very tight section coming into Time control 12 which was located near Rhydroser where everyone picked up penalties. Huw and Owen set the pace here and had a time of 17 seconds. Malcolm and Dafydd were also doing well on 1 minute and 2 seconds, and Jonathon and Andrew managed 1 minute 50. Following this another tight section soon followed which ran along the twisty and technical lane at Penfor Fawr and finishing near Pentre-bach. This was a section where almost everyone picked up penalties although Malcolm and Dafydd managed to pass through penalty free. Jonathon and Andrew managed 1 minute 12 seconds and Huw and Owen were still pushing hard on 43 seconds.

                This long section ended with another tight bit located near Cnwc-Y-Barcud. Time control 16 was here and Malcolm and Dafydd were once again setting a blistering pace with 2 minutes and 42 seconds of penalties gained. Four seconds behind them were Jonathon and Andrew on 2 minutes 46. Huw and Owen manged 3 minutes and 34 seconds.

                The final section saw competitors head back to Pontrhydfendigaid via Dolfor and Brynarth. Time control 19 was located in this section and once again saw competitors gather penalties. Malcolm and Dafydd managed 1 minute and 3 seconds. Huw and Owen were on 1 minute and 15 seconds and one second behind them on 1 minute 16 were Jonathon and Andrew.

                With everyone back at Pontrhydfendigaid it was declared that the winners were semi experts and father and son pairing Huw and Owen Rowcliffe who took a victory by the narrowest of margins with a 1 second victory. Their total time was 12 minutes and 19 seconds. In a very respectable third overall were Jonathon Davies and Andrew Gaunt with 13 minutes and 13 seconds. Finishing down in thirty second due to their fail at the beginning of the rally were Malcolm “tar” Jones and Dafydd Evans. They had a penalty count of 9 minutes and 48 seconds.

                It had been a very tough and demanding rally that simply making it to the end was an achievement. Many thanks must go to Joseph John Gilbertson for the use of his image in this report.