Almost one month on from the tragic events of the Jim Clark rally, 25-year-old Ammanford co-driver Claire Williams was back in her seat alongside Halesowen’s Neil Matthews to contest Round Three of the NGK British Rally Championship Trophy in Scotland.
The RSAC Scottish rally saw the racers battle it out over ten special stages and 73miles on gravel around the famous Scottish forestry with a one-mile spectator stage held on Friday evening in Dumfries.
Second overall on the leaderboard going into the rally, the pair were looking to secure maximum points to keep their championship hopes alive having crashed out the previous month.
“The Scottish Rally is known for being a tough rally. The rough gravel means that punctures are common and we will need to look after our tyres if we are to stand any chance of winning,” said Claire in the build-up.
Unfortunately, the pair’s handling and suspension woes which proved so problematic on the Jim Clark Rally returned with a vengeance and the car’s suspension seized prior to the first stage, immediately casting doubt over their ability to even start.
After some frantic stripping and rebuilding of both front suspension arms, they managed to remedy the problem and after producing a steady time throughout the short spectator stage they went into the overnight halt in third.
In the hope of climbing the leaderboard, the pair launched a charge from the outset on day two, however a dry spell in the days leading up to the rally would mean that dust and the hard dry surface would play an unwelcomed part in proceedings and their attempts to produce winning stage times eluded them.
“The dust was just billowing into the car,” said Claire.
“It was a nightmare and made it difficult to breathe, let alone deliver the pace-notes accurately. Rain would have been a god-send”
However, it was not only Matthews and Williams that encountered difficulties and stage by stage their rivals soon fell by the wayside.
Current BRC Challenge Championship leaders Richard Sykes and Emma Morrison’s rally came to an abrupt end when their car left the road in the afternoon.
This paved the way for the Williams and Matthews to secure second behind Scotsman Ross Hunter who now overtakes Matthews and Williams into second in the championship standings. Richard Sykes maintains top spot into Round Four, The Todd’s Leap Rally based in Northern Ireland In August.