Day one of the 2016 Brechfa Rally broke dry and fresh with no hint of rain in stark contrast to last year! This year’s event was on all new ground, due to the installation of windfarms in the previously used forests. The start/finish was in a quarry bowl with ample parking directed by a host of DDBC marshals. A goody bag of hat and space-age energy food was mostly eaten by 9:45.
The start in the quarry went straight up 2 short 1 in 3 stony climbs, which claimed a few over enthusiastic throttle jockeys or those still in the on/off choke limbo. After that the well-marked course took us through forestry plantations featuring some muddy tracks and climbs with varying amounts of short ruts and grip.
Early on there was a short optional enduro loop of a half mile of soft muddy rut which was fine to ride on both days. But it was easy to get ahead of yourself and get cross-rutted and have a little lie down in.
Onwards to the test featured some nice flowing forestry with a couple of short tarmac sections leading to a ‘slow & quiet area’ descending steeply down through a farm and brook, where it was nice to see everyone behaving themselves, much to the annoyance of the ever vociferous farm dog.
The test started just after a brook that gave the first 30 odd riders a nice view of a 950 having an early bath, but rider took a suitable bow with no apparent harm done. Fastest on the test was Carl Jones on a Sherco 300 and I don’t think anyone was close to him all weekend, consistently finishing each test at least 80 seconds ahead of the competition. The test itself took us off straight up a slightly rutted series of climbs, punctuated by some sticky hairpins with 1in3 slimy exits where a few stalled and struggled to find grip.
What goes up must come down with one steep downhill followed by a sharp right and another climb. But after a section of narrow ruts alongside a stream there was yet another little hairpin and climb that the bigger bikes struggled on. Indeed Nick Plumb riding a 1400GS on TKC80s was having a tricky day with weight power, short shifting into 3rd/4th before finding any traction.
From the stream the test opened up a little, but still with some farm type ruts on stoney ground into the tape at test end. So quite technical a test, without much easy going and plenty of places to get it very wrong, alas the Air Ambulance attending on Sunday at the test end.
From the test was a nice mile blast to a section of road (past the old start) onto some nice fire road, new single track and climbs. A mile or 2 from the end was a sting in the tail of single track mossy ruts between trees which most paddled through and the few made it on the pegs. On the following laps there were a few “this is the last bit” moments, only to realise there was still a few more short sections to clear before the return to the pits after around 30miles each lap.
3 laps (2 timed) on day 1 and only 2 laps day 2 decided the winners and losers for each class. Several people suffered punctures or mousse problems, including Carl Jones, but didn’t slow him down. With 20 DNFs from the approx 120 starters it seemed to be hailed a great success on the new going. Perhaps next year DDBC may be able to run a day in this wood and another day in the previous forest, for a cracking 2 day event.
2 Carl Jones Rally Lite 2 Sherco 300
1 Dylan Davies Rally Lite 1 FE 350
13 Paul Robson Big Bike XR 650R
19 Rob Loupart Rally Class 450 KTM EXC
49 Ant Ireland Trail Class CCM GP 450
52 Richard Griffin Bollington Trail Class KTM950ADV
By Rob Loupart, aged 44+1/4