ELFYN EVANS’ bid to add further success to his history-making win on last year’s Dayinsure Wales Rally GB blasts off with next week’s Rallye Monte-Carlo (25-28 January).
As tradition dictates, the FIA World Rally Championship commences with the notoriously challenging Alpine classic – a wintry event that always throws up an ultra-testing cocktail of ice, snow and slush making the already demanding mountain roads among the trickiest on the 13-round WRC calendar, which reaches Wales in early October.
Evans has contested Rallye Monte-Carlo four times previously and has never finished outside the top eight. His best result to date is sixth place on his debut in 2014 and again last year.
“It’s never an easy event,” admits the 29-year-old from Dolgellau. “There are so many factors that come into play that you don’t generally get on a more normal round of the championship but it’s an iconic way to start the year. The stages themselves – if you take away all the snow and ice – are absolutely fantastic.”
Since taking his maiden WRC win in Wales – the first for a Welsh driver, and the first for a British driver on home soil since the late Richard Burns in 2000 – Evans has been promoted by his title-winning M-Sport team. For 2018, he and co-driver Daniel Barritt line up alongside five-time World Champion Sébastien Ogier in one of the Cumbrian outfit’s pair of front-line Red Bull-liveried Ford Fiesta WRCs.
“It’s a good place to be alongside Seb again this year,” he enthused. “We worked together well last year – albeit on different tyres – so to continue that on now with identical equipment is a fantastic opportunity.”
While clearly keen to make the most of his coveted seat alongside the French maestro, Evans is by no means overawed by his illustrious team-team. “He’s a fantastic benchmark to have in the team, has a lot of experience and is the best in the world at the moment, so you’d be a fool not to capitalise on that and learn from him. My aim, though, is always to try to beat him if we can.”
And the Welshman is certainly brimming with confidence after his break-through season in 2017 when he not only posted his first WRC victory but also two impressive second place finishes en route to fifth place in the final WRC championship standings.
“We made some good steps forward and found a happy place with the car – hopefully we can continue improving from there,” he disclosed.
Evans, though, will need to be at his brilliant best not just to beat Ogier but also to fend off some world class opposition in what promises to be another thrilling world championship series. Last year’s introduction of new technical rules not only introduced faster, more exciting cars but also created renewed rivalry between the top teams.
M-Sport might have won both the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ crowns in 2017 but the opposition from Citroën, Hyundai and Toyota will be even stronger in 2018. Evans, however, believes the M-Sport technicians – now benefiting from increased support from Ford – will keep the Fiesta in front.
“There are small improvements but ultimately, with the regulations as they are, it doesn’t give anyone the scope to make massive changes. More a case of tweaking here and there,” he explained.
“We already had a strong platform, we just need to keep nibbling away to find gains in performance. Hopefully, the guys have been doing that over the winter and we all will continue pushing hard with the support of Ford this year. There’s always been a Ford connection with some engineering support but that’s now stepped up a level – that should help us to improve and stay at the top.”
While next week’s famous Rallye Monte-Carlo will provide a stern opening test, the WRC calendar throws up numerous challenges before the intrepid teams encounter the legendary Welsh forests in early October. As ever, the calendar is an epic adventure ranging from the snow packed tracks of Sweden to the rock-strewn mountain passes of Mexico and Argentina.
“To be honest, there are no rounds that I’m not looking forward to,” continued Evans. “I now have fond memories of just about all of the events. My focus this year will be to enjoy them all and to get the most out of each one, rather just targeting a handful.
“It will, of course, be special to be back in Wales,” he grinned. “The DMACK tyres obviously helped to put us in good position last year, now we’re equal Michelins to everyone else. Let’s wait and see. It’s a few months away but, obviously, we will be looking for another great result.”
In the meantime, all those wanting to follow Evans’ fortunes on television are spoilt for choice with both live and highlights coverage of this year’s FIA World Rally Championship on Channel 5, BT Sport, S4C and Red Bull TV.
Tickets for the 2018 Dayinsure Wales Rally GB (4-7 October) will go on sale when the competitive route is revealed in April.
Aber make perfect start
ON a wet and windy August evening an excellent crowd turned out at Park Avenue to see the Black and Greens make the perfect start to 2019/20, with a 3-2 win over Carmarthen which leaves them at the Top of the nascent Cymru Premier table – this morning at least!
The visitors scored first through Liam Thomas’ 13th minute penalty, but Town Captain Marc Williams equalised with a deft header five minutes before the break.
The second half belonged to Aber as Williams pounced on a defensive mistake to put them ahead on 55 minutes, and Luke Boundford’s sumptuous volley, right in front of an adoring Nark’s Corner gave Town some breathing space thirteen minutes later. Luke Bowen snaffled up a consolation for Carmarthen in the 90th minute but it was to be Aber’s night as they held on for a huge victory.
Carmarthen probably had the best of a high paced and competitive start to the game, and the thirteenth minute was unlucky for Aber as Luke Bowen sneaked round the back and was pulled down in the area for a penalty, which Top Scorer Liam Thomas converted confidently.
Fortunately the goal stung the hosts into action: Williams saw a snap volley scoop wide, Ryan Wollacott headed wide and Wes Baynes forced Lee Idzi into a save with a header with Aber improving.
Wollacott then kept Aber in it with a superb last ditch tackle to deny Chris Jones a certain goal at the other end.
Baynes sent a lob just over the crossbar, the impressive Paulo Mendes set up Joe Phillips for a low drive which skimmed just wide. Then finally the breakthrough came as Matthew Jones sent in a sweet cross for Williams to glance home expertly at the far post, and douse Aber’s frustrations.
McCormick denied Bowen low down but the Black and Greens were in the ascendancy, with Williams (twice) and Stuart Jones going close, and the half time whistle came too soon for the improving Black and Greens.
Carmarthen came back after the break, Ceri Morgan sent a shot wide, McCormick punched wide a glancing header and Jones fired over – but then a simple ball down the middle caused consternation in Carmarthen’s back four and the irrepressible Williams nicked in between Lees Surman and Idzi to lob the ball home for a deserved lead, which got the home crowd signing in praise.
All Carmarthen’s efforts to equalise from free kicks and corners were cleared by a confident defence, and then with twenty two to go came a glorious moment when Boundford picked up the ball on the edge of the area, found space and curled home a delicious right footed volley into the far post to send Nark’s Corner into raptures, and Matthew Bishop’s men into a 3-1 lead.
What a goal for your Boundford’s home debut! Mendes typified a domineering performance by blocking Harling’s effort, and with Aber working hard to see the game out, the visitors tiring and the home fans singing, the job seemed all but done.
In the 90th minute McCormick spilled Jordan Vickers’ right wing cross for Bowen to nick a consolation goal, but Town kept Carmarthen at bay, with Boundford firing an injury time effort over the bar, and a thrilling game ended at 3-2.
The Black and Greens thoroughly deserved the three points last night for an exciting attacking performance, and two wins out of two plus seven goals has been a very good start to 2019/20 for Aberystwyth Town. They will now head to Barry Town on Friday night (ko 7.45pm) fully confident in their ability to achieve a positive result, before The New Saints come calling on Bank Holiday Monday, August 26.
Junior tournament a great success
THE highly acclaimed Bow Street Football Club Junior tournament celebrated its seventeenth year of existence in style on the weekend of July 13-14.
An excellent level of entries was again attracted this year, and large crowds came to enjoy the two-day festival, now widely recognised as one of the foremost events of its kind in Wales.
Bow Street chairman Wyn Lewis said: “It was another absolutely brilliant weekend. We were blessed with suitable weather on both days, and as a club, we are very proud to be the hosts of such a phenomenal event, and I want to thank all who contributed to the success of the tournament.
“I particularly want to thank the army of volunteers from Bow Street FC who worked extremely hard as a team to ensure that the whole event proceeded in an organised, efficient and friendly manner It is believed that there was over 1700 in attendance on the Saturday and we thank all our visitors for supporting us again this year.
“I would also like to thank our new tournament sponsors, Brian Jones and Castell Howell Foods for their magnificent support and commitment over the weekend.”
Brian Jones added: “We are delighted to support such a superbly organised event, and I was amazed at the standard of the youngsters on Sunday. The best thing was seeing all who were present thoroughly enjoying themselves.”
Main organiser, Amlyn Evans added: “It is an absolute pleasure to organise such an enjoyable event. Again, as every year, the greatest pleasure is seeing the enjoyment on the faces of all the competitors and spectators. The effort put in by club officials to ensure the smooth running of the whole event is phenomenal. Not only is it enjoyable, but it does provide Bow Street youngsters and others from this area the invaluable opportunity to test their skills against a large variety of teams from away.”
There were teams participating from as far afield as Pontyclun, Cardiff, Pwllheli and Caernarfon and for the sixth consecutive year, an all-girls competition took place on the Sunday.
Winners and Runners up:
Winners – Penrhyncoch
Runners Up – Llambed
Winners –Bro Hedd Wyn
Runners Up – Lampeter
Winners – Bow Street
Runners Up – Berriw
Winners – Builth
Runners Up – Penrhyncoch
Winners – Llanilar
Runners Up – Canton Rangers (Cardiff)
Winners – Padarn United
Runners Up – Penrhyncoch
Winners – Bow Street
Runners Up – Rhayader
Girls Under 12
Winners – Penrhyncoch
Runners Up – Porthmadog
Player of The Day – Keisha Swai(Porthmadog)
Mark Horwood Memorial Award
(Trophy for best local player of the day.)
Saturday – Stefan Gillies(Penrhyncoch)
Sunday – Mari Hefin(Bow Street)
Overall Player Of The Day
Saturday – Robin Williams (Bro Hedd Wyn)
Sunday – Cayo Carruthers (Llanilar)
Large crowds expected for Junior tournament
LARGE crowds are expected this coming weekend (Jul 13-14) for yet another huge occasion for Bow Street Football Club.
The club will be staging its seventeenth consecutive annual junior tournament. Since the inaugural tournament in 2003, the event has rapidly grown in to one of the most prestigious and successful in the whole of Wales.
The tournament is organised by the Spar Mid Wales League team, and games will take place on 9 different pitches at the club’s Cae Piod ground.
This year has again attracted an excellent number of entries with approximately 130 teams applying to participate in the eight different categories.
Teams from as far as Caernarfon and Cardiff will participate on the two days, and competition takes place on Saturday at under 6’s, under 8’s, under 10,s and under 11’s. On Sunday, teams compete at under 12’s, under 14’s and under 16’s.
For the sixth year running there will be a specific all girls category, which will take place on Sunday at under 12.
Bow Street FC are delighted to reveal that the tournament has a brand new sponsor. Castell Howell Foods, firmly established as one of the UK’s leading independent food wholesalers, has agreed to sponsor the extremely popular event for the next two years.
Bow Street chairman Wyn Lewis said: “We are very proud that this tournament continues to go from strength to strength, and it is obvious from the entries that amazingly, its popularity is still increasing. It is incredible that many of our categories were full a couple of months in advance of the tournament. We are very grateful to the clubs from all over Wales who continue to support us.
“We are absolutely delighted to welcome Brian Jones and Castell Howell Foods on board as our tournament sponsors. Castell Howell are well known for their commitment to community activities especially junior sport, and we appreciate the faith they have shown in us by agreeing to become our partners. Brian Jones is a hugely respected figure in Welsh life and having been fortunate to meet him on a few occasions, it is obvious he has a huge passion for supporting youngsters playing all sports and taking part in community-based activities. The Bow Street tournament we believe is such an event as it enjoys support from all parts of Wales.”
Castell Howell’s Managing Director, Brian Jones said: “May I say how delighted, happy and proud we are to be associated with this now very well established, popular and hugely successful Junior Football Festival organised by Bow Street FC.
“We at Castell Howell are big supporters of communities and believe greatly in giving our youngsters opportunities and we are delighted to support this superb event in Bow Street.”
One of the tournament organisers, Amlyn Ifans added: “This year has attracted an exciting number of entries yet again, and we look forward to an enjoyable two days competition! It is marvellous that a small village community club continues to facilitate such a prestigious event, which gives our own junior players valuable experience of challenging players from outside the locality.’
One of the original organisers, Allan ‘Baba’ Evans said: “I am so chuffed at the way this event has developed since we started it in 2003. I am so proud of the way that the whole club and the community always embrace the annual tournament.”
Play starts at 10.00am on both days, a wide variety of refreshments are available, and, as ever, there is ample parking space.
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