Williams determined to prove she's no number two.

TAKING OFF: Ammanford co-driver Claire Williams and partner Matthew Jackson go airborne at the Nicky Grist Stages. Pic: Mark.R.Chappell (Gasmark Media)

TAKING OFF: Ammanford co-driver Claire Williams and partner Matthew Jackson go airborne at the Nicky Grist Stages. Pic: Mark.R.Chappell (Gasmark Media)

First published in Sport

For the third consecutive week, Ammanford co-driver Claire Williams was again in rally action, competing on her 50th rally since she took up the sport in 2010.

She marked the occasion by teaming up with her partner, Warwick driver Matthew Jackson, for the Builth Wells-based Nicky Grist Stages.

The rally - Round Six of the BTRDA Championship - in which Jackson is competing this year, comprises eight special stages spread over 45 competitive miles of the classic South Wales forestry gravel roads of Crychan, Halfway and Epynt.

The dry conditions ensured dust played a pivotal part through the day, but the pair welcomed the drastic decrease in temperature compared to the 30*C highs they endured while competing in the rally in 2013.

With such a strong entry roster in the 1400cc category, the pair aimed for a top 15 finish overall, especially given their immediate disadvantage of being in Super 1000cc specification Nissan Micra compared to their fellow competitors’ more powerful 1400cc machines.

However, this did little to deter them from mounting an early charge and they set a very impressive time on the opening stage, which catapulted them into the top 10 overall and second in their class.

With nerves settled and confidence growing - and having seen a main rival fall by the wayside on the first stage, the pair headed into their preferred stage looking to capitalise on their excellent start.

However, following on from recent bridge rebuilding on the stage, it was to prove a bridge to far for several crews, who met a premature end when their cars suffered severe damage as a result of harsh impact the bridge caused.

“We were flat out when we went over the bridge and the bump certainly hurt but fortunately for us we got away with it whereas some didn’t,” said Williams.

“We just went on to have a bit of a moment further on up the stage but we got away with that one too”

Despite a spin late on in the morning which cost them roughly 20seconds, Jackson continued to produce a fine drive throughout the remaining stages.

With Williams alongside him, the pair secured a result far in excess of their initial expectations and finished ninth in the 1400cc overall and second in their class, which now sees Jackson extend his class lead in the BTRDA Championship and his overall lead in the ANWCC Championship.

“Rallying together as a couple is a big test of any relationship but we came through it without so much as one argument and winning awards together is always a nice touch too,” said Claire. “However, I think finishing second is quickly becoming my destiny as in nine rallies this year, this is my sixth second-place finish.”

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