DURSLEY'S David Stokes continued his fine season with yet another category two victory, this time on the Zutec Neath Valley Stages, but not before some early morning drama, writes Paul Willetts.
The Three Counties Car Club event had attracted a top quality entry for this WWRS RAC Championship round, which was based in the small valleys village of Resolven, offering some top quality stages formerly used on Wales Rally GB in Margam and Rheola Forests.
Two loops of three stages made up the 44 competitive miles.
The Draycott Bakeries and Ashmores backed Escort RS1600 underwent a 6.30am gearbox change, the service crew doing a sterling job after the old box sounded noisy after scrutineering.
With the car fully restored to health Stokes stopped the clocks a full 14 seconds quicker than his rivals Chris Browne and Roger Matthews in similar cars.
By the time they reached first service the gap had increased to 17 seconds despite an overshoot.
A big push through the driving rain of stage four saw the lead increase by a further three seconds.
The final two stages saw the duo take a massive 26 seconds out of their rivals in 13 miles to arrive back in Resolven seventh overall, first in category two and first in class on what had been a first class event on the fast smooth roads of the South Wales forests.
The event was won overall by Cheltenham duo Nick Elliott and Dave Price in the Kellands Escort RS1800.
Stokes' attention now switches to the bumpy Irish lanes of the Ulster Rally this coming weekend and Mintex MSA Historic points.