Wyedean rally 2012

Yesterday I made my annual trip to the Welsh border to see Alex and spectate at the Wyedean rally. I think this is the sixth consecutive year we’ve been, and the first time I’ve not taken a BMW.

I took the Impreza, and as you can see, we had another snowy event. I must now wax lyrical about that car’s practicality. We arrived in the snowy car park to find it full, so we simply made the car park bigger by parking on a frozen, muddy bit of bog-land on the edge. When we needed to leave I popped the car in reverse and it happily chomped back onto the then ice-rink-like car park, and we naffed off, leaving others in two wheel drive vehicles spinning their wheels and generally rueing the day they failed to acknowledge the glory of proper all wheel drive, no matter how unsubtle it may appear.

So, back to the rally. With well over 200 cars running at (we guess) 60 second intervals we figured two special stages should be about right for the day. We chose to spectate on Serridge 1 & 2, basically because we’re a bit lazy like that. As ever, we hunted down corners that were most likely to provoke mistakes. As it turned out we can’t have done such a good job as previous years, as we didn’t so much as need to push anyone, but we certainly saw some action.

Now here’s another testament to four wheel drive and good tyre choice. After a 360° spin, this Evo rolls backwards off the track. Both rear wheels are suspended over that ditch; the front wheels are on sheet ice. Did it need pushing? No. They just boiled it up, and the Evo dragged itself forward on its belly panels to the point where the rear wheels could get a good purchase on the edge of the ditch, whereupon it leapt out, ripped up the ice and shot off back on track.

Even so, my real heroes are of course those who manage all this, quickly, with just rear wheel drive. Legends, one and all.

In the afternoon we carefully located a really slippery 90° corner. It didn’t disappoint!

I’m annoyed that – yet again – I took too many stills and not enough video. The juniors and classics run though the course first, but then the open competition come through. The top seeds – cars potentially worth hundreds of thousands of pounds – come storming through the forest like monsters. It starts with popping and cracking exhausts in the distance, escalating rapidly to a full roar accompanied by dump valves hissing, straight-cut gears whining, tyres scrabbling, hot brakes, flaming exhausts and general rage. Car 21, a Lancer Evo IX, sounded absolutely terrifying and only after it had passed it occurred to me to take some video. Sadly by then the real animals had been and gone, but hopefully this selection gives a good idea of the atmosphere.

Here’s a wonderful bit of RWD from a MkII Escort. Note I’m silent during filming, but one of the other spectators was clearly getting a bit nervous!

And now an Impreza turbo demonstrating superior traction up the hill, but perhaps a little too much pace into the corner.

An Impreza digging itself out of a small ditch:

And finally, taken from slightly further round the corner, a general demonstration of the ice-rink conditions competitors had to handle:

Overall a very interesting (and cold!) day out. 45 miles of special stage in the forest on mud, snow and ice. I was fascinated to learn that while the winner was a WRC Focus, and second place went to a Lancer Evo, third place was awarded to a 1.4l Vauxhall Nova, proving that the conditions really were a playing field leveller.

All my stills from the day can be found here – note that’s a 40MB page though. ;)

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