Held in the forests around Swansea on roads used for Britain 's round of the World Rally Championship, the gravel tracks are extremely fast and highly challenging, including numerous jumps which ultimately would play a part in the day's proceedings. Andrew has competed in Swansea twice before; once in 2001 when the bonnet on his SEAT Ibiza flew open mid stage, and last year when floods struck the event. The Swansea Jinx unfortunately continued into 2008!
Overnight rain kept the dust which plagues summer rallies at bay, a great relief for all the crews contesting the event and allowing Andrew and Dan to get off to a great start. With a power deficit of 90bhp to the leading car in their class, the APCsport crew pegged the gap at just 3 seconds after a challenging opening 13 mile stage through Margam Park.
But a better performance was yet to come; over just 6 miles of the Walters Arena stage Andrew and Dan took 2 and a half seconds a mile off their class competitor and took a large lead into first service. Andrew said: “Our pace in there was fantastic; a real confidence boost for us and a knock for our competitors. There were loads of spectators cheering us on and we got some fairly big air over a couple of the jumps; hopefully we can continue that pace all day.”
Holding station through the next pair of stages it was looking increasingly like a tight finish, with both the class leading crews pushing as hard as they could. Unfortunately for the APCsport team, this was when lady luck intervened.
Unbeknown to Andrew the Walters Arena stage had been altered for the afternoon run due to a mistake by the organizers. The road alteration details were only given to the crew with 10 seconds to go before their start, and on coming to the section of the stage that had been changed Andrew remembered the route from the morning, fully committing to a 3 rd gear corner only to find the road was blocked. Reversing back out to the stage cost the crew even more time and effectively their challenge for the class victory was over.
Despite the now large gap the decision was made to continue to push hard in case their rivals made a mistake. On the final stage of the day Andrew braked hard just before the take off of a big jump, the car snapped sideways and took off at an awkward angle, breaking the gearbox mounting in two on impact with the road. With only one wheel drive Andrew and Dan managed to get the car to the end of the stage and finally to the finish to claim second in class.
Dan Remarked: “At this level the organizers should not be making mistakes with stage layout; if it had happened on a 5 th or 6 th gear corner we could have had an enormous off. With the gearbox mount breaking with only half a mile to the finish, today just wasn't our day, but hopefully we've had all our bad luck in one event.”
Andrew and Danny must now win the A6 class on the next round, the Trackrod Rally of Yorkshire in late September, to be in with a chance of winning the championship.
APCsport are grateful for the support provided by the following companies in 2008: