The Spencer Sport Rally Team of Penrhiwllan was back in action this weekend, when driver Jamie Jukes and co-driver James Morgan contested the second round of the Welsh Clubman's 2WD Forest Rally Championship Mid-Wales Stages. A fantastic start saw the team in fourth place overall and leading the two-wheel-drive category by a healthy margin by the end of the second stage. But their day was brought to a premature end in stage three by a broken alternator bracket.
Following a promising start in last month's round one - the Red Kite Stages Rally - Jamie from Penrhiwllan and James from Cardiff, were eager to build on their first outing in the team's Suzuki Swift Kit Car and therefore, were looking forward to competing again in this weekend's 45-mile event in the forests of central Wales.
When the team arrived for the start of the rally in Newtown, there was no doubt that it was going to be a wet weather affair. But, unperturbed by the conditions, Jamie spent the first few miles of stage one called Pikes Peak - so named because of the climb from start to finish - to acclimatize himself to the car and the levels of grip - or lack of it. Once dialed in, he and James began to gather pace and, having survived a few 'exciting' moments, they emerged from the forest pleased with the way things had gone.
SS2 was a run through the well-known Sweet Lamb spectator stage used regularly for the Rally GB and, looking to capitalise on their solid start, Jamie and James were impressive throughout and enjoying the fast and flowing character of the stage's gravel roads.
A service halt followed, where the team became aware that the efforts of their morning's work were rewarded with an overall position of fourth and a lead of over a minute in the two-wheel-drive category. Even more impressive was the realisation they were battling amongst - and beating - some of the more powerful four-wheel-drive cars.
Having found a pace that was both comfortable and competitive, it was a case of more of the same for the afternoon's two stages. However, after five miles of the 17-mile run through Hafren Forest, a red light appeared on the Suzuki's dashboard alerting Jamie to an imminent problem.
"It was all going so well, so It was frustrating to retire, not just because it denied us a good result, but it also meant I didn't get the extra seat time", explained Jamie. "I'm still getting used to the Suzuki, so it would have been valuable to have made it to the finish, but that's just the way it goes sometimes. Overall, I'm really pleased with our pace and that we were mixing it with the four-wheel-drive cars, so I'm confident there's even more to come."