Kelly and Roberts take the win in Hills Ford 3 Shires Stages 17th September 2023
Posted on 18th September 2023 at 14:11
By Paul Mitchell
Photograph by Black Mountains Photography
TOP SEEDED Mark Kelly and co-driver Dai Roberts took a start to finish victory in the Hills Ford 3 Shires Stages in their Kelmore backed Skoda Fabia R5.
After Saturday’s popular ceremonial start in Ledbury town centre, over 100 crews left the Much Marcle Showground for 60 very slippery miles in the narrow lanes over Herefordshire Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.
And it was Kelly who led the way on the first loop opening up a staggering 24 second lead from Citroën C3 of Steve Wood with local man Paul Morris calling the notes.
"I wanted to start quickly as two of the stages were nice, but the other two were very dirty,” said Kelly.
Of the local crews Roger Moran and Dan Petrie in the Moran Motorhomes Skoda Fabia R5 led the way holding an excellent 10th after four stages. Unfortunately, Hereford’s Roger Matthews retired on stage four.
The second loop saw Kelly extend his lead to 40 seconds over Wood.
Behind Wood held a comfortable 20 seconds over third placed Melvyn Evans.
Historic leader Tom Llewellin in his Weir Rallying Escort RS1800 had built up a very comfortable lead but abandoned.
Also event sponsor Tim Hill was another to retiree with prop-shaft issues in the Hills Ford Fiesta R3 and the Porsche GT3 of Nigel Mummery was another to retire along with Hereford’s Simon Dalton.
The final loop saw the predicted heavy rain arrive, thankfully as the crews were in service so tyre choice was made very simple.
But for Kelly it was a case of game management over the final loop and he brought the Skoda home by 32 seconds from Wood who had an excellent day getting quicker with each event in his new Citroën C3, with Roger Duckworth who had an excellent afternoon to finishing third.
The 2wd honours looked to heading the way of Huw James & Lewis Sim who held a comfortable 14 second lead over Brad Cole going into the last short test.
However, Cole stopped the clock a full 19 seconds ahead of James to take both 2wd and class honours with Oliver Davies taking the final step of the 2wd podium.
Local honours went the way of Leominster’s Roger Moran and his Hereford co-driver Dan Petrie who finished an excellent 10th overall in the Moran Motorhomes Skoda Fabia R5.
Monmouth farmer Ben Williams and Tony Edwards took a fine 27th overall and seventh in class in their Escort RS
Meanwhile, Gary Bollands and Nigel Baldwin finished 33rd and sixth in class in the GB Furniture Solutions Subaru Stationwagon.
Just behind them were Geoff Phelps with Colin Jenkins alongside in 35th overall and fourth in class in the first outing in a new Hartpury Farms MK1 Escort.
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