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Evans tipped for success

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Tipped for success: Elfyn Evans

WALES’ most successful rally driver, David Llewellin, is tipping his fellow countryman Elfyn Evans for great success – and even an historic victory – on this month’s eagerly-awaited Dayinsure Wales Rally GB (Oct 26-29).

Although a number of Welsh co-drivers have won Britain’s classic round of the FIA World Rally Championship, no Welsh driver has ever stood on the podium let alone won their home event. Indeed, no British driver has triumphed since Colin McRae and Richard Burns racked up three wins apiece in the glory years between 1994-2000.

Llewellin, a double British Rally Champion in 1989 and 1990, led the event briefly when competing for Toyota in 1989, but ultimately never finished higher than sixth.

Now aged 57 and living in his native Pembrokeshire, the former champ still follows the sport avidly and is one of a number of Welsh Rally Legends being honoured on this year’s Dayinsure Wales Rally GB. What’s more, he firmly believes that the country’s latest rallying star, Evans from Dolgellau, has what it takes to write the history books in the coming weeks.

“It would be fantastic to see Elfyn do it this year and I think he has a very good chance,” predicted Llewellin.

“I’ve been watching him closely and he’s been improving over the last 18 months – he’s shown he’s one of the best in the world. If things work for him, we could see a Welsh winner.”

Evans, who missed last year’s event while securing a top drive for 2017, already has two top six Wales Rally GB finishes under his belt. Now, as a member of the title-hunting M-Sport squad, he has underlined his potential with second places in both Argentina and Finland – two loose surface rounds that are not dissimilar to the tricky conditions found in the legendary Welsh forests. But can he – together with his Lancashire-born co-driver Dan Barritt – live up to Llewellin’s expectations and score what would be a hugely-popular win on home soil?

“We’re really in for a classic event and it should present us with a really good opportunity,” he admitted. “Hopefully we can bring home a great result.”

To do that, Evans will have to overcome a star-studded field that includes his two M-Sport team-mates Sébastien Ogier and Ott Tänak as well as Hyundai’s top gun Thierry Neuville – all three are still locked in battle for this year’s WRC crown. Although enjoying a best-ever season, sixth placed Evans is no longer in title contention.

Whatever his prospects in Wales, the 28-year-old from Gwynedd is certainly looking forward to what promises to be a fantastic spectacle featuring a new era of even more powerful and spectacular rally cars.

“The feeling driving these new-generation cars has been absolutely incredible all season, and I really hope that the spectacle on the outside will be everything that it is for us inside the car,” grinned the 2012 WRC Academy champion.

“There are some fantastic stages and this year, they will be combined with an element of endurance. Saturday in particular will be a tough stint, going back out in the evening in the dark – that will be tricky, as will the whole rally, to be fair.

“I hope to see a lot of fans out there on the stages cheering us on. It’s normally a fantastic atmosphere, and I’m sure this year will be no exception. Hopefully we can reward them with something to cheer on Sunday afternoon.”

Fans wanting to witness Evans’ efforts to make history can still take advantage of advance tickets which offer considerable discounts.

Advance adult prices start at just £23 for Saturday’s family-friendly Toyota RallyFest at Cholmondeley Castle, £28 for a Day Pass or £99 for the full four-day premium event pass (World Rally Pass). Accompanied children aged 15 and under are admitted free.

Full details of 2017 Dayinsure Wales Rally GB including route, timetable and ticket information can be found on the official www.walesrallygb.com website.

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Street through in Central Wales Cup

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BOW Street made it through to the third round of the Central Wales Cup on Saturday (Jan 5) as they beat Llansantffraid 3-2 after extra time.

The game was played at Aberystwyth Town’s Park Avenue and Street were keen to pick up victory to start 2019 in style.

Ben Jones scored for the Magpies to make it 1-1 after 90 minutes before the game came to life in extra time.

Llansantffraid took the lead but Dylan James scored to level the scores and he then provided the assist for Jones to score his second to make it 3-2 and send the Street through.

Street will be keen to carry on their good cup form on Saturday (Jan 12) as they travel to Cefn Albion for a fifth round tie in the FAW Trophy.

Elsewhere, Aberaeron bowed out as they were beaten 4-1 at home by Llanilar.

Ceredigion League Division 1 side Ffostrasol were also knocked out as they lost 3-0 away at Hay St Marys.

Llandysul suffered a 5-0 defeat to Kerry while Penrhyncoch conceded their tie with Llanidloes, having played a league game the day before.

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Street edged out by Llani

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BOW Street suffered a narrow defeat on Saturday (Dec 29), as they were beaten 1-0 by Mid Wales League Division 1 leaders Llanidloes Town.

Having been held to a 1-1 draw with Aberaeron on Boxing Day, Street welcomed the leaders looking to cause an upset.

Credit must go to the Cae Piod groundsmen who ensured the overnight downpour didn’t affect the game.

After an even start, Llani were given a penalty with just over half an hour gone but Alex Pennock made an excellent save to keep the scores level.

However, just moments later the visitors did take the lead as they grabbed the only goal of the game with ten first half minutes still to play.

Photo by Colin Ewart

Llion Jenkins’ pile driver cracked the cross bar from 25 yards but the ball fell to George Clarke who tapped in the rebound to make it 0-1.

In the second half, Ryan Biggs saw red for a foul but both sides agreed that the punishment was a little harsh.

Bow Street threw everything at their opponents as they looked for the equaliser in the last half an hour but were unable to find a way through.

Llani defended well to keep their clean sheet intact and despite seven minutes of added on time they held on for the win.

Street currently sit second from bottom in the table but will take a break from league action on Saturday (Jan 5), as they welcome Llansantffraid in the second round of the Central Wales Challenge Cup.

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Aber’s top six hopes dented

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ABERYSTWYTH Town’s hopes of securing a top six finish in the JD Welsh Premier League took a blow over the festive period following two defeats to Newtown.

The first, on Boxing Day, saw them slip to a 2-0 defeat at Park Avenue after goals from Steve Leslie and Nick Rushton.

Then, on Sunday (Dec 30), they were beaten 2-1 at Latham Park after a first half goal from Neil Mitchell and another from Rushton in the second half.

Manager Nev Powell made three changes to the side defeated by the Robins on Boxing Day, with Alan Goodall, Geoff Kellaway and Rio Ahmadi entering the starting line-up.

In similar fashion to the Boxing Day clash, it was Newtown who started the game faster, and they took the lead with their first meaningful attack of the game as Callum Roberts crossed for Neil Mitchell to head home within the opening 90 seconds to make it 1-0.

Despite the early setback, Aber fought their way back into the game and tested home keeper Dave Jones with long range efforts from Wes Baynes and Rio Ahmadi.

Photo by Colin Ewart

On 13 minutes, the Seasiders carved out their best opening yet as Geoff Kellaway forced jones into a fine save after breaking free on the left side of the penalty area. But as the first half wore on, the game became a closely contested affair with neither side able to carve out any clear opportunities and the hosts would enter the break with the advantage.

The Black and Greens started the second half in much brighter fashion, and very nearly equalised on 50 minutes when Paulo Mendes saw his header smartly saved by Jones in goal.

Then, on 56 minutes the visitors went closer still, as Rio Ahmadi cut inside and fired a low effort from outside the area against the base of the post. It seemed a matter of time before Aber were back on level terms, but on 60 minutes came the sucker punch that all but sealed three points for the Robins.

Sam Phillips broke free on the edge of the area before playing in Nick Rushton, who rifled a shot into the bottom corner of the net to make it 2-0 very much against the run of play.

Soon after, they almost well and truly buried the Seasiders as Luke Boundford went through one-on-one with Terry McCormick, but the Aber keeper stood strong and produced an excellent save to smother the shot.

Substitutes Ash Ruane and Joe Phillips were introduced in place of Kellaway and Ryan Edwards, and soon after Aber went close once more as Ryan Wollacott met Mathew Jones’ corner, only to see his header cleared off the line.

As stoppage time approached, Aber did find a way back into the game as Declan Walker flicked the ball through for Ahmadi, who produced a neat chip into the corner of the net to make it 1-2 with five minutes of additional time remaining.

In the very last minute of stoppage time, Paulo Mendes appeared to be fouled in the penalty area, only for his appeals to be waved away by referee Cheryl Foster, and the Seasiders would leave Latham Park empty handed.

It was an improved performance from the Seasiders’ previous defeats, but manager Nev Powell will be disappointed his side were unable to convert the chances they carved out at Latham Park on Sunday afternoon.

Town now face a real uphill battle to finish in the league’s top six as they welcome Conah’s Quay Nomads to Park Avenue on Friday evening (Jan 4) in the JD Welsh Premier League.

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