Already crowned Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series Champion and current British Championship leader Matt Edwards aims to further prove his versatility on next weekend’s (Sept 28th/29th) Trackrod Rally Yorkshire when he contests the Historic Cup.
Edwards, from Llandudno, has driven a high specification Ford Fiesta WRC during his multiple successes in both major modern rally series’ this year but he will be at the wheel of a 40-year old Fiat 131 replica, taking on some of the most experienced drivers of other cars from yesteryears, when he undertakes the North York Moors forest-based event, which starts and finishes in Filey.
Not that the in-form Welshman is any stranger to either the annual Yorkshire extravaganza or rallying ageing cars, having won the Trackrod Historic Cup in 2103 – his first outright ‘historic’ victory – driving an Escort RS1800, then finishing second the following year.
This year Edwards, alongside regular co-driver of two and a half years and fellow Welshman Darren Garrod, has stormed to maximum points on all three British Championship rallies so far, whilst clinching the BTRDA series at the Ludlow racecourse-based Eventsigns Woodpecker Rally at the beginning of September with a fourth victory in six rounds.
So, despite having no need to come to Yorkshire, the duo will cross England to contest the Historic Cup, which runs concurrently to the Forest Stages event but has the additional and all too rare attraction of an exhilarating ‘night stage’ in Dalby Forest on Friday.
“It’s bit of a development exercise really as the Fiat belongs to one of my sponsors Peter Smith.
“I have done some testing in the car, so we now want to see how that translates into competition.
“I like the Trackrod, having won it before, and it will be nice to come back and do it again against some of the top boys in historic rallying.”
Swift Leisure boss Smith is also entered, ironically in a Fiesta although not the same one that Edwards has been campaigning.
“I wouldn’t say our success has surprised me this year as it’s a build up of a lot of people’s time and effort,” continues Edwards.
“Everything has gone really well – all the boxes have been ticked from my point of view – the car, the co-driver, the team and the support around us….”
“I’ve been able to just concentrate on putting my 14 years of experience to best use with a great set-up around me.”
“I teach and also hire out rally cars and going to Latvia to do some tuition so don’t arrive back until Thursday so things are pretty hectic leading up to the Trackrod.”
The Rally GB – the final round of the British Rally Championship – also begins the following Thursday.
Edwards’ Fiat is prepared by Kevin Theaker, who also built the Mk2 Escorts driven by rivals Steve Bannister, Nick Elliott and Matthew Robinson, thus giving the Malton-based company a huge interest in four of the top five seeded cars on the ‘Historic’ half of the Trackrod event.
Bannister, also from near Malton, is bidding for a record fourth successive success in the 55-stage mile (six stages) Historic Cup, having previously (during the eighties) become the first man to win the then one event Trackrod Rally three times.
Ripon dairy boss Charlie Payne also goes into the weekend’s action on an unbroken hat-trick of successes in the 45-mile (five stages) Trackrod Forest Stages Rally.
The ceremonial start to the weekend’s action is along Filey Beach Road from 6pm on Friday.
The ‘Historic’ cars and drivers, plus a handful of army Land Rovers, will be available to talk and pose for photographs before the first competitor crosses the start ramp an hour later and heads for the opening 10.5 mile Dalby Stage.
The following morning the Trackrod Forest Stages Rally contestants, many chasing points in BTRDA Championship as well as various other national and regional title races, will join infor the other five stage.
Both the start and finish, from mid afternoon on Saturday, are completely free to onlookers, who are encouraged to use the special spectator areas in Dalby (Woodyard and Housedale [Saturday only]) and Cropton (Spiers House) to catch the action.
These areas have full facilities, including refreshments and toilets, with Dalby Woodyard also carrying informed commentary – more details of which are on the rally website.