A report by Lee Mathews on the Mold Tyres Targa Rally held on 18th June 2023 and organised by Clwyd Vale Motor Club.
Having not done a Targa rally with my wife since 2018, I persuaded her to sit in the navigator’s seat of our 1963 Ford Consul Capri GT for a new event which was only an hour’s drive away.
So, early on Sunday 18th June 2023 forty three cars assembled at Ruthin Cattle Mart for Clwyd Vale Motor Club's inaugural Targa Rally, which was to be an 85-mile route defined by pre-printed maps, taking in ten Special Tests over six different venues.
A 09:30 start had the crews heading north to St Asaph and a very steep uphill start line at Ty’n-y-Coed Farm. This concrete road turned to loose-surface through the intricate sharp turns through the farmyard itself which included a slalom of cones and a Passage Control, then opened out along a fast gravel road where three code boards had to be recorded. Baz and Danielle Green set the initial pace with a time of 02:10 in the Proton, whilst I lost some time when we overshot the last Codeboard recording a time 25 seconds slower.
The train of cars then headed further north to fields near Rhuddlan for Test 2. This was more like an all-forwards Autosolo on grass encompassing two fields. With just labelled cones as course markers this was one of the more technical and difficult tests to navigate, especially for the first crews who didn’t have any tracks to follow. This resulted in Wrong Tests for some, but even worse for the rally leader who had driveshaft failure whilst executing one of the 360 degree turns around a solitary cone. For my part, as we were one of only a handful of cars to be running road pattern tyres, I did not expect to record a good time on this surface, and coupled with stopping twice for hesitations on direction, we were 20 seconds off the pace. In face it was Novices, running much further back that were quickest, benefitting from tyre tracks laid down by cars sweeping the grass ahead. Equal fastest on 02:10 were car 16 Tom Thomas / Phil Roberts (Fiesta), car 21 Gwynant Jones/Llifon Williams (Corolla), car 42 Rhys Jones / Cory Thomas (206), and car 34 Ian and Steffan Jones (Micra).
The next test site was 10 miles to the southeast in Nannerch, starting as a tree lined bumpy gravel farm track, followed by two passage controls in a dusty farm yard, then after splitting left we blasted off down the tarmacked main entrance road. Penbedw was my favourite test, and we got to do it again, as we went straight back to the start line, did the first half again, much faster this time as we knew where we were going now, then at the split we turned right instead to do a longer stint down a gravel track, including going around a grass triangle with a PC on it. Unfortunately, we will never know who was actually fastest here as most of us beat the bogeys of 02:58 and 03:07.
Test 5 was another farm track a couple of miles away in Hendre. The start line of Lygan Uchaf had to be delayed to allow farm machinery to exit the fields, but once underway we were treated to a very flowing, if a tad rough Test. Many crews punctured on the sharp gravel, despite having forest tyres. We got lucky, skipping flat out over the top of the bumps and recorded a very good time just 11 seconds off bogey. Four cars beat or matched the bogey of 01.32, cars 1 Ian Lloyd / Cyril Jones (Escort Mk2) ,2 Iwan Roberts / Moi Williams (Corolla), 3 Deion Atkinson / Aron Jones (BMW) and 9 Dave Jones / Dick Jones (BMW).
South then for 15 miles, through Mold and back to HQ at Ruthin Cattle Mart. Here there was an all-forwards Autosolo-like test laid out on what was an extremely slippery concrete surface. We did this twice (Tests 6 & 7) before a 45-minute break and then restart back in order. On these tests car 39 Vaughan / Parry (Saxo) were in a league of their own with quickest times of 01-32 and 01:31. Many of the top runners fell foul of wrong routes around the marked cones as the concrete surface meant there were no tyre tracks to follow, and navigators have a particularly difficult job of sending drivers the correct way whilst doing 360’s and 180’s on a blank car-park. This was particularly evident at the rear of the venue, around the back of the buildings, out of sight of the start line, so crews had no prior knowledge of route. With such an early start in the morning most crews, including me, did not have time to “walk the course” which had already been laid out, even then. This ruined the result for the day for so many, with only two of the first nine cars into the test going the correct way. Good job the maximum penalty was only 90 seconds off fastest. For my part I stopped twice in the test to confirm with Yvonne which cone was next, as my mind had blanked the alphabet. “What comes after P?”. We got the test OK in the end with 13th fastest time (01:52). On the second run we were 9th best, on 01:40 with no hesitations this time.
The dinner break flew all too quickly, spent mainly swapping stories with the many people present, and explaining to those who asked me what my car was.
The eighth test was another farmyard run, 5 miles to the south, at Bryn-Chwareu, or it should have been, but navigation down the overgrown minor roads was tricky to find the venue and many of us crews went lost for a while. There were so many slippery hairpins in this venue that I don’t think we got out of 1st gear, but what a cracker of a test it was. My time was OK, but M&S tyres were a definite advantage over this surface. I didn’t care, it was so much fun.
After setting fastest time of 02:04 here, Iwan Roberts / Moi Williams (car 2) extended their lead to 28 seconds advantage over Hewlett / Griffith in the Satria with just the final two tests back at Ruthin Cattle Mart to go.
On the penultimate run over the concrete Farmers Mart the leaders, Roberts/Williams equalled the fastest time of Vaughan/Parry’s Saxo, whilst Hewlett / Griffith (Satria) dropped 5 seconds, and Thomas/Roberts in the Fiesta were also 3 seconds off. This meant a three-way tie for second position for the Satria, Saxo and Fiesta crews going into the last test. In the end just 3 seconds would separate them, in favour of Vaughan / Parry, with the Satria getting leap-frogged.
Results were close right across the board, helped by penalties for maximums normally only costing about a minute.
Yvonne & I collected awards for 1st placed Historic car, and it was great to see that nearly everyone stayed to applaud the trophy winners. All done by 3:30pm. Brill.
This was a first-class event, and it felt a lot longer than the mileage suggested. Well done everyone at Clwyd Vale Motor Club and the army of volunteer marshals that helped make this an event to put in the diary. Well done everyone.
1st Iwan Roberts / Moi Williams - Toyota Corolla, 20:12 (car 2)
2nd Ed Vaughan / Tomos Parry - Citroen Saxo, 20:47 (car 39)
3rd Tom Thomas / Phil Roberts - Ford Fiesta Mk5, 20:48 (car 16)
4th Matthew Hewlett / Adam Griffith - Proton Satria, 20:50 (car 13)
5th Alun Evans / Clare Evans - Toyota Corolla, 21:08 (car 11)
6th Tomi Jones / Daniel Jones - Toyota Yaris, 21:30 (car 38)
7th Joshua Bailey / John-Paul Foran - Mazda MX5, 21:52 (car 35)
8th John Gornall / Wendy Gornal - Peugeot 206 GTi, 21:53 (car 10)
9th Lee Matthews / Yvonne Matthews - Ford Consul Capri GT, 22:09 (car 18)
10th Ian Owens / Ray Stevenson - Peugeot 106, 22:17 (car 28)
Photos by Joe Gilbertson and Lee Matthews.