Scintillating Edwards ‘Maps Out’ Title for Collis
Llandudno based rally driver Matt Edwards and Sam Collis from Chesterfield took their fifth BTRDA 1400 Series victory on this weekend’s Cambrian Rally, whilst claiming an outrageous pair of top five overall stage times on the way in their 586 Sport-run MG ZR
The Swift Group supported pairing’s 9th overall result, and 1m 38s 1400 winning margin was made even more impressive, as Collis was able to shine on Ordnance Survey maps on half of the events 6 stages in preparation for the Roger Albert Clark Rally next month, and they also completed the last 9 miles of the event with badly bent rear suspension after hitting a pothole in the road; that on top of losing power steering for the final 2 miles of the Penmachno South Stage.
With Edwards already BTRDA 1400 Champion for the year, as well as MG ZR and MSA English Champion, Collis had missed an earlier round of the series due to other commitments, so there was still a task in hand to secure the Co-Drivers title. The result was a blistering first stage time in the 12 miles of Clocaenog forest, taking a time 22 seconds faster than any other 1400 crew, closely followed by a time 12th fastest overall despite the duo referring to stage maps, rather than the traditional route notes.
“We got off to a really good start and nailed the first stage this morning” commented Edwards at first service in Ruthin”. “Its been the key to our year really so we pushed hard and the time was there; the car is awesome as always and everything is going to plan, so now we have to carry on the pace through Penmachno”.
Little did the Tradeaways, Racing-lines.com, Pamaya.com and Fuchs Titan Race supported crew know, but their performance on the Penmachno tests would be the talking point of the rally, as aboard their 1400cc MG, they would take 4th fastest overall stage time on both of the demanding tests, to lie 4th overall after the first 4 stages; an incredible achievement against the 4wd World Rally Car and Group N Competition; particularly so considering Edwards grappled for control of the car for the final 2 miles after power steering failure.
The problem was soon fixed by the 586 Sport team at the end of the stage and allowed Edwards to continue to second service with a 1m 10s 1400 lead.
“Penmachno is one of the most demanding stages in the country, as it has not been graded and altered to allow the large logging lorries to come in and out, which leaves it naturally bumpy, twisty and narrow” explained Edwards. “We pushed hard in there to try and extend our lead but took no risks and I am astonished at the result! I think it’s the fact the stage is so technical which slowed the more powerful cars down that meant we were able to take such competitive times in there. The times in ‘Cloc’ this morning demonstrate that it’s the wider stages that are used by lorries regularly that are responsible for the higher speeds these days, and not notes and DVDs that are available to competitors prior to the rallies to increase their knowledge of the stages.”
With a healthy lead in hand, Collis would again refer to stage maps for the final two tests of the rally, guiding Edwards using information picked up from a 1:25000 scale map and calling the corners by their angle on the map. This would not detract from their impressive performance, as despite hitting a pothole early into the final stage which bent the rear suspension and ruined the stability of their 586 Sport MG, the Swift Group pairing were able to return to Llandudno promenade 1m 38s to the good in the 1400 category, and an amazing 9th overall from 140 starters, amongst many 4wd and more powerful machinery.
“Today has been fantastic for all involved with our efforts this year, and it was great to read a map again in the forest for Matt” said Collis at the Llandudno finish. “The times in Penmachno were nothing short of brilliant, but it was all under control as ever despite what the times may suggest! I’m delighted to have won the Co-Drivers championship for the year and am looking forward to whatever we can get in place for 2011”.
The result rounded off an impressive season for the popular pairing, with 5 BTRDA 1400 wins, an outright victory on the Mid Wales stages on Matts first 4wd outing for 18 months, and a hat-trick of championships into the bargain.
Their effort now continues with seeking the budget to contest the British rally Championship in 2011, with the aim of pitting their skills against the highest level in the UK.
Matt and Sam would like to thank The Swift Group, Fuchs Titan Race, Tradeaways, 586 Sport, Racing-Lines.com, Pamay.com and all their friends and family for their support in making 2010 so successful.
The Swift Group are Britain’s largest manufacturer of touring caravans, motorhomes and holiday homes. For results also see www.btrdarally.com. For more information on Matt, please vist www.merallysport.com, for pictures, videos and news features.