Held in the atrocious torrential rain conditions that caused havoc all over the UK, on the same roads used for Britain 's round of the World Rally Championship in the Welsh valleys, Andrew and Dan won their class in their Peugeot 206 Cup Car.
The weather was not the only challenge for the pair; Coley had never driven the left hand drive car in anger and the car was completely untested before the event, whilst co-driver Dan Pearce had never before used pace notes, the all important guide for the driver as to the direction and speed of the upcoming corners.
Andrew commented: “Sitting on the start line of a 13 mile stage on gravel, in a left hand drive car, with the rain pouring down and knowing that Danny would be up against a real challenge with the timing of the pace notes, I must admit to feeling more than a bit nervous! However once the stage start lights went green the nerves went and we were on it; it felt amazing to be out competing again.”
Pearce has co-driven for Coley in the past, mainly on tarmac but most successfully when the pair were chosen to represent Great Britain in the international Dakar Challenge competition, in which they were proud to finish a fantastic second overall. However the challenge of the Welsh forests and pace notes was very different to the desert of Morocco.
“The biggest challenge for me was the pace notes." said Pearce. "I've sat with Andrew on single venues and in the desert for the Dakar Challenge competition, but never used full blown pace notes before. I have a little work to do on adjusting the timing according to the speed of the particular piece of road we are on, but with a little more pratice we'll get there."
The pair were only aiming for a finish in their long anticipated return to the sport, so were very pleased to win their class (A6, 1600cc modified) as well. Andrew remarked: "Obviously we're pleased with the result, but I'm under no illusions about our pace; we need more time in the car and with a little practice in slightly nicer conditions I'm sure my full confidence will return."
A plan is in place to contest one or two more rallies this year, with hopefully a full assault on the National Rally Championship next year. Andrew and Danny would like to thank Ross Stevens, Will Allen, Nick Townsend and Andrew's parents for thier invaluable support on the Swansea Bay Rally; despite the atrocious weather the service crew were smiling all day...or was it grimacing?!