by Angharad Evans, Welsh Language Communications Officer
As the summer turned into autumn, one of the largest international motorsport events was held in Ceredigion.
During the first weekend of September, Rali Ceredigion was held where 130 cars competed along the closed roads of Ceredigion stretching over 105 miles. But did you know that there is a connection between this event and the Union? Let’s find out more from one of the staff at the Union’s Head Office in Aberystwyth:
“Most members know me as Gareth Parry, FUW Senior Policy and Communications Officer, however, some of you will also know that I enjoy rallying in my spare time…
“Only two weeks ago I was here at the FUW Head Office having photos taken with Ian Rickman, FUW President, before the ceremonial start of the JDS Machinery Rali Ceredigion on the promenade in Aberystwyth - the highest profile international motorsport event and the only closed road event in Wales.
“My car is a 1987 Peugeot 205 1.9 litre GTI. I bought it locally in bits when I was 16 and built it in between travelling back and forth to Llysfasi Agricultural College, so I’ve always had that agricultural, motorsport balance. After years of competing as a co-driver in various national and British championships, I rebuilt the car last winter and competed in a small event near Telford in March.
“I’d been pondering about entering Rali Ceredigion leading up to the opening of the entry form. A huge amount of effort and money goes into organising these events. However, I was grateful to receive support from the FUW and Nicky Grist Motorsports and our entry was submitted in early August.
“That’s when the to-do lists became longer by the day. It was a big task to get the car ready in five weeks after it hadn’t moved for five months. Nevertheless, after a month of juggling spanners with meeting politicians at county shows, and refitting the gearbox two days before the rally (we’ll brush over that), we made it and, albeit a few hours late, we managed to get some photos of Mr Rickman sitting in the driving seat.
“The rally officially began on Saturday 2 September which included the stages of Borth, Cwmerfyn and Cwm Ystwyth, all ran twice, followed by two short stages around the town of Aberystwyth. Lewis Griffiths, my co-driver for the weekend, and I were car 98 and we had the ultimate goal of getting to the finish given how demanding the stages were.
“Unfortunately, around 300 yards from the end of the second stage, we broke a driveshaft. Disappointing to say the least and wasn’t necessarily a fault of ours, or a fault of our preparation, it was just one of those ‘well, that’s rallying’ moments. We got the car back to service and repaired it. However, as the rally was running under international rules, we weren’t allowed to restart until Sunday, so we watched the stages around Aberystwyth to show support to our fellow competitors.
“Sunday was a much better day. Six stages including two runs of Llanafan, Clywedog and Nant y Moch. We couldn’t help but appreciate the local fan club we had through the village of Llanafan and I’d like to thank everyone who came out to support us.
“We were pleased to be second fastest in our class on the first run of Llanafan, only 1.6 seconds from the quickest, so that was definitely a positive to take away from the weekend. Except for one stage being cancelled on Sunday, everything else ran smoothly and we came down into Aberystwyth for the finish ramp on the promenade.
“Notwithstanding the mishap we had on Saturday, it was a special moment to get to the finish of the event and see hundreds, if not thousands of people in Aberystwyth - nothing I’d ever seen to the same extent here before.
“And just like that, after a five week build up, it was finished. Thank you to everyone who supported us in the lead up to and during the event. The question is, what’s next?”
Yes indeed, what next for Gareth and his rallying career? Whatever’s in store, I'm sure you'll continue to enjoy it, good luck with the rallying in the future.