West Chiltington’s Shaun and Steven Martin rev up for a new bid for glory in the Wales Rally GB over the next few days.
The event – formerly the Lombard RAC Rally – is the last round of the World Rally Championship and starts today in Llandudno, finishing in Cardiff on Sunday.
The bulk of the event takes place around mid-Wales with the main service area in Builth Wells. It’s there that the national event takes place tomorrow and Saturday, covering 76 stage miles over seven stages and 216 road miles.
The forests of mid-Wales conjure up some very impressive stages like the Dyfi complex, Hafren, which is 20 miles long, and the final stage, a sting in the tail: Myherin at 18 miles long.
Entry is first-come first-served for the first 30 entries and then by invitation.
The crew were successful as one of the first 30 – Shaun’s brother and co-driver Steven entered them when Shaun was on holiday in the Canadian Rockies.
The crew, who finished 23rd overall last year, start this year’s event at car 242 in a very strong entry of 83.
Pre-event preparation has gone well. Shaun did a pre-event test on the Woodpecker Rally near Ludlow in September with Tim Hobbs, with drummer Steven otherwise engaged with his band.
The car has been overhauled with most parts removed, serviced and reinstalled. A new intercooler system, gearbox, clutch assembly and heavy duty engine mounts have been installed and tested.
The weather plays an important part in the event. If it is wet, a very open gravel tyre is used with a soft compound and the tyre treads are cut out further to slice through the mud.
In the event of snow, a super-soft sticky tyre is used that looks more like a motorbike tyre.
Shaun, chairman of the International Rally Drivers Club, said: “Tyres play a very important part in any rally, but more so in the Wales Rally GB. If it’s wet that’s great. If there is snow and ice, that’s equally as good – and I’ve even bought a snow shovel just in case!”
Some 161 cars are competing this weekend with 78 in the international section and 83 in the national rally. The world championship goes to the wire with either Sebastian Loeb or Miko Hirvonen in line for the world title.
In the national event, there are several favourites, with Andy Burton and Nigel Griffiths strong contenders.
Sponsorship and support of the Martins comes from Team Retro-Speed, Solarwood Energy, Presteigne Tyre Services and Cumbria Heat Logs.