Matt Walk’s – 2022 Season Review

“Our 2022 season with the KA was full of highs and lows. Focusing on the highs we won the W3 Class in the Welsh Rally Championship as well as going into the final round of the BTRDA Championship with an outside chance of the 1400C title.

Our BTRDA season kicked off in March with the Malcolm Wilson Rally. This was an event we’d never contested before. Despite our lack of experience and some minor intercom problems we were leading the 1400’s outright a

fter Stage 2. We won our class on every Stage up until Stage 6 when the engine mounting ripped itself out of the chassis. There was nothing we could do to complete the final stage, being forced to retire from the lead.

Round 2 of the BTRDA and our first Round of the Welsh Championship was the Rallynuts Stages. After our strong showing on the opening round, we were surprised to be so far off the pace. We left Builth Wells scratching our heads as to why. It wasn’t until after the Rally we found the issue. When the engine had broken lose on the previous event it had damaged the throttle cable. The throttle was only opening around two thirds of the way. Despite being down on power we finished 2nd of the BTRDA crews and took maximum points for the Welsh Championship.

After skipping Round 3 our next event was at Round 4, the Kielder Stages. This was another new event for us. Despite some rain the previous day the stages were dry and dusty. We caught the car in front halfway through the opening pair of stages, costing us 40 seconds in just 12 miles. After starting ahead of the offending car for stage 3 we were fastest by 9 seconds. We set our second fastest time in Stage 5 before we picked up a left rear puncture with 4 miles to go in the final Stage. This was enough to drop us back to third, missing out on 2nd place by just 1 second.

Going into the second half of the season we really needed to convert our pace into wins. Round 5 of the BTRDA and our 2nd round of the Welsh Championship was the Quinton Motor Club organised Nicky Grist Stages. Despite suffering with overheating problems all day and not actually winning a stage, we took our first class win of the season by 22 seconds. We set 2nd fastest time on 6 of the 8 stages. This also gave us another maximum points score for he Welsh Championship and put us into the class lead.

Round 6 of the BTRDA Championship was our favourite event, the Woodpecker Stages. Having marshalled in Radnor when it was used on the RAC in the 80’s and 90’s, and spectated in Haye Park for the past 20 years, it’s a Rally we know well.  We started the day by taking 21 seconds out of our nearest class rival in Haye Park. We would be beaten on Stage 2 but would go on to win 5 of the 6 stages to win by the class by just over a minute. With our nearest 1400C class rival retiring, we were firmly back in the title hunt. It also put us within touching distance of the Welsh Title.

Round 7 was our third and final trip up North for the Trackrod Rally. We’d previously attempted this Rally before but suffered a broken driveshaft on Stage 3. With a sudden downpour on the way out to the stages, they became very slippery. The conditions suited us, setting fastest times on all 3 opening Stages. With the Championship leaders parked up in Stage 1 with a blown Gearbox, and the next nearest crew behind stopped with a broken stub axle, all we had to do was finish to set up a winner takes all shootout at the final round. However, our bad luck in the North of England struck again, on the road section to Stage 4 the rear axle broke. The left rear hub was being held onto the rear beam by 1 weld. With no chance of going any further we had to retire from the lead for a second time this season.

The rear wheel parted way with the car whilst being recovered from the stage access road. As we loaded out 3 wheeled machine onto the trailer and did the maths on the way home we realised we had to win our class on the season ending Cambrian Rally and rely on our rivals retiring to win the BTRDA 1400C Championship. Our Welsh Championship prospects looked much better, a class win on the Wyedean Rally would guarantee us the title, although a finish would be enough for us to only need to start the Cambrian to become Champions.

Our penultimate event was the Wyedean Rally. Our last attempt at the event was back in 2016, which ended with us rolling the green KA out of the Rally whilst leading our class! The stages this year turned out to be incredibly slippery, even at road speeds the car was trying to decide which ditch it wanted to explore first. We kept out of trouble until Stage 6 when we got caught out on a particularly muddy section. We hit a log pile made up of 10 or so large logs. Luck was finally on our side, the driver’s door and the quarter panel took most of the impact, leaving the suspension intact. We made it back to service with the car looking very second hand. With the help of the big hammer, we were able to repair the car enough to complete the final stage. We finished well down the order, but the finish was what we were after.

Our closest rivals in the Welsh Championship were unable to make the final round, so the pressure was off us, we had secured the W3 Class Championship, meaning we could focus on the BTRDA Title. Only a win would be enough for us.

The 8th and final Round of the BTRDA Championship was the Cambrian Rally. After a good result here last year we were confident we could get the win we needed. After a cautious start we took our first stage win of the day in state 3 around Alwen Reservoir. In stage 4 however our championship hopes ended in a cloud of smoke. We were just too quick into a tight left hander over a crest. We ran wide and hit a tree stump in the grass. The hit broke the radiator which meant we would go no further.

Retiring from the last Rally of the year was a big disappointment, its very much a season of what might have been had we not had to retire from the lead on 2 events. We’ve still had a great season, alongside the Welsh honours we’ve had fun both on and off the stages. The Pre-Rally chats with other competitors in the bar and the Service Park/Stage Start banter has been fantastic, its what makes Club Motorsport so enjoyable.

We’ll be back with the KA in 2023. Whilst we wont be contesting a full season as we need to crack on with the Lada, we’re aiming to defend our W3 Class title.”


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