Reigning British Rally champion Matt Edwards and co-driver Darren Garrod sailed to a comfortable 38.4-second victory on the Cambrian Rally over series returnees Osian Pryce and Noel O’Sullivan.
WRC2 driver Rhys Yates was third overall on his first BRC event in eight months despite a spin and stall on the 11.7-mile Penmachno test.
Just 43 stage miles were on offer to crews on the opening round of the season as event organisers had to cut the last two stages from the itinerary due to an insufficient number of entries.
But that didn’t deter Tom Cave – who stormed to the first fastest stage time of the season as Edwards faltered with a stall off the start line.
Cave’s joy would be momentary however as it all went wrong on SS3: “We just lost the rear on a third gear right-hander, hit a big rock and ripped the wheel off,” he said. He lost over three minutes to Edwards and eventually finished sixth.
Edwards did the damage on the morning’s final two stages, taking 5.3s out of everyone on Penmachno and another seven seconds over the Great Orme to open up a 22.2s lead that he would continue to extend in the afternoon.
The Welshman won all but two of the rally’s seven stages in his Ford Fiesta R5 Mk2.
Pryce spent the morning unhappy with the balance of his Hyundai i20 R5 as he used the car on gravel for the first time. But he admitted that second “felt like a win” to him given his lack of recent experience at this level.
Ollie Mellors and R5 debutant James Williams secured a four-five finish for the Proton Iriz R5 on its BRC debut.
Mellors overcame a shattered front brake disc to defeat an over the moon Williams. who exceeded his expectations with fifth.
JWRC refugee Tom Williams was nearly four and a half minutes down on rally winner Edwards in seventh as he banked experience on his first ever rally in a four-wheel-drive car.
National BRC winner Alan Carmichael, JBRC winner William Creighton and Finlay Retson completed the top 10 positions.