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1981-1990 1990-91 92 93 1994-96  97 - 98 - 99- 2000 - 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 Celtic Motorsport Festival 1998

1998 Welsh Championship Review

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Mark Chandler - unbeatable in '98

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Mark at Mallory Park

Round 1 Silverstone March 21st

Martin Davies and Alvin Powell started the 1998 season in excellent fashion at the Peterborough Motor Club meeting. Martin ran second on the road as the first Welsh contender, whilst Alvin had to fight his way past Steve Hetheringtons’ Ferrari after a slow start. Once he got onto Martins’ tail, the 2 Fords’ were locked together in classic battle with Alvin closing under braking and cornering, only for Martin to pull away under power. However on lap 8 Alvin took the lead but then pulled into the pits with overheating, leaving Martin on his own. This was the start of another torture session for Alvin until the Mondeo V6 was finally sorted. Another in the wars was Terry Brown who just never got going and pulled off after only 2 laps. Back in 9th & 10th Jeremy Pope and Mark Chandler were tied together again and both mopped up their classes in a style that would become very familiar. Clive Hayes won the battle of the Rovers with Larry Phillips, whilst Sean Jones clocked up another finish.

Pembrey - Saturday - April 18th Double header Round 2

Terry Brown was back on form for round 2 and shot into the lead at Hatchets on the first lap after Peter Dark and Graham Cole confused each other. Seizing his opportunity Terry held on to win by just under a second from Peter, with Graham making it a Darrian 1-2-3, after Graham set a new lap record at 60.47 seconds. Martin Davies mopped up Class A, whilst Jeremy Pope and Mark Chandler were tied together again and mopped up their classes again. Granville Williams kept Mark in sight, ahead of Nigel Bowen with his Sapphire Cosworth (his other car is a Porsche), and Andy Sweetman with his Porsche 924s. Clive Hayes won the battle of the Gti’s again beating Rhodri Jenkins on his first outing and Larry Phillips. Unfortunately Paul Townsend did not get his Escort round the first lap.

Pembrey - Sunday - April 19th Double header Round 3

This time Peter Dark got into Hatchets first and pulled out to win by 8 seconds over Terry Brown. Graham did not make it round the first lap and Mark Chandler filled the gap, taking his incredible Mini into 3rd place. Afterwards he quipped "I was looking for the lead!" Martin Davies & Jeremy Pope were next taking their classes. However Robb Addison won the battle of the Rovers ahead of Jonathon Williams, with Nigel Bowen holding off Clive Hayes. Paul Townsend chalked up his first finish, ahead of Andy Sweetnham and Rhodri Jenkins.

April 26th rounds 4 & 5. Celtic Motorsport Festival

On a tremendous day for the WRDA and for Welsh racing, the Celtic Motorsport Festival was a celebration of 15 years of hard work, and WRDA members put in a maximum effort to get their cars to the grid. After a week or more of rain, divine intervention was needed and I prayed to God for a sunny weekend. The big man upstairs duly arranged for the sun to shine! The meeting was run under the banner of our friends at the Aston Martin Owners Club, who stepped in after we were let down by our original partners. Having attracted a quality grid of the Ford of Ireland Zetec Championship for a double round, and the new Irish Strikers (for Srtikers read Caterham clones), we were able to add TV coverage. The whole event, including the TV coverage, which had to be paid for, was funded by the European Community Regional Fund and the Interreg programme. Suffice to say, without this input we would have not been able to fund the meeting and arrange the TV coverage without charging a substantial entry fee. As it was we were able to arrange a Gala day and keep entry fees to the minimum.


Highlights- The sight and sound of Ron Cummings & Bob Wright and their Arrows Judd V10s will be one of my all time memories of racing at Pembrey.

In the Welsh Championship Alvin Powell was back with his car now sorted after it was given a makeover by Andy Rouses’ crew, but he must have passed his bad luck on, as Matt Mandersons’ Darrian never moved from the paddock, and Terry Browns’ car was soon back on the trailer after a very public mechanical failure. (Just the time you don’t want to see a camera!) Gareth Davies was also struggling to get his car running and with Graham Cole falling foul of the officials, Peter Dark & Mike Shaw were the only Darrians to make an impression. Indeed Peter made quite an impression by winning both Welsh rounds at a canter, as well as finishing the handicap race first on the road. 3 Starts - 3 wins! It doesn’t get much better than that. Mike also made an impression, but not maybe in the way he intended, as he was captured on Martin Davies’ rear facing camera getting well crossed up under braking! Mikes’ distinctive car is now part of the opening sequence to the BBC Wales Magazine show on Saturday afternoon a 5.25 p.m every week!

First off on the race programme however, was the first of 2 races for the Irish Formula Ford Zetec Championship.

The action wasn’t long starting, and incidents at Hatchets and Spitfires left broken cars scattered about the circuit and bought the race to an end after less than 400 yards! The restart saw even more mayhem, but the race continued until unlucky lap 13. Leader Phillip Kehoe had been holding off schoolboy sensation Neil Shanahan but Kehoe ran wide at Brooklands and then chopped Shanahan as he sought to take advantage of the situation. The cars touched and Kehoe did a slow barrel roll to exit the race on his helmet. (Another clip for the TV!) With the driver trapped there was no option but to end the race, and the lucky Kehoe took the win with the result declared at 12 laps.


Welsh Championship Round 4

Next up was the first of 2 Welsh Championship races but they had a hard act to follow. Indeed after Alvin made a hash of his start and Peter made good his escape, the race seemed to settle into a pattern. Although Alvin eventually managed to make his way up to second place, a late burst from Peter, who set the fastest lap on the last lap, made sure he was never in a position to challenge for the lead. Keith Butcher & Mike Shaw staged one of the closest finishes in 3rd & 4th, whilst Martin Davies headed Nigel Jones and Jeremy Pope, and Scottish visitor Bob Wright in a Cosworth quartet in 5th, 6th , 7th & 8th places. Mark Chandler took the Class C honours after fighting off the challenge of Class sponsor Jonathon Williams and his Rover Gti, who at least gave Mark a fright, and his closest race of the year! Nigel Bowen (in his other car) had a close finish holding off the Rover Gti trio of Clive Hayes, Larry, & Rhodri. Graham Cole, Paul Townsend and Sean Jones were doomed to retire, but Granville Williams unfortunately never made it to the start.

With excellent races for the Monoposto Championship, the Irish Strykers and Ladies race (won by Cindy Pearce in the car she shares with Clive Hayes), it was time for the Gemini Celtic Superprix and the wailing Arrows. However it all started to go wrong as soon as the lights changed. Bob Wrights’ car failed to start and whilst Ron Cummings gave us show he only lasted 2 laps before a radiator hose blew off and sent the flying Arrows into a wild spin on the outside of Honda curve! Ron managed to keep the car from spearing across into the amrco and brought it to a safe halt after a heart stopping moment that made for great television (and a final clip for the BBC Wales Magazine!). However the departure left Eddie McLurg to fend off Robin Dawe and his Vauxhall Lotus, but Dawe slipped by and hung on, despite a mighty charge from Eddie, to win by only .02 of a second!

Only 15 out of the 20 original starters made it through to the second round of the Irish Formula Ford Zetec Championship, and after a calmer race Neil Shanahan held off Chris Paul by just under a second, who set the fastest lap in both races, with his quickest lap being 58.65 seconds.

Welsh Championship Round 5

16 starters lined up for the second Welsh race, and the question was will Alvin get off to a better start and give Peter a hard time? The answer was, that he made a worse one and narrowly missed a nasty encounter with the barriers on the outside of Dibeni as he went off backwards on cold tyres! Keith settled into 2nd place and although Alvin eventually made his way up to 3rd the others "were long gone" as the TV commentary confirmed. Nigel Jones left the fray early on after his newly painted Sierra with a host of problems, narrowly missing Mark Chandler, as the green machine went straight on at the approach to Hatchets with a broken diff! Paul Townsend, Graham Cole, and Martin Davies were the other retirements. In the race Clive Hayes and Larry Phillips were the only drivers to stage a close finish, as there were large distances between most of the other finishers. Mark & Jeremy Pope took their classes again.

Castle Combe regular and Caerlon resident Andrew Harris won the Formula Ford v Monokent race, and after applying the handicap Irish driver Owen Doran won the Wales v Ireland v Ladies Sports & Saloon team race. Diplomatically, the Irish team won, with the Ladies team 2nd.

Despite the early delays we finished the 9 race programme on time, a triumph that owed so much to so many people, drivers, marshals, administrators, cameramen. For Peter Hughes the director, the work was about to start. Having been involved with the project for almost 6 months if you had asked at the time I probably would not have been in favour of repeating the task, but having thought about it and watched the TV coverage, well, OK lets do it again some time, but maybe not too frequently.

Mondello Park Sunday - May 17th Round 6 Irish Superprix and Celtic Challenge

At this stage in the 1998 Welsh Championship, 3 wins from 4 races had hoisted defending Peter Dark into contention at the top of the points table, but drivers Mark Chandler and Jeremy Pope were the early points leaders after mopping up their classes with ease. Round 6 was on the new sinuous 2.5 mile International circuit at Mondello Park in County Kildare in Ireland, and with the Boss Formula One cars putting on a show the event attracted about 7000 paying customers, and several thousand, who didn’t pay! As well as a round of our championship also on the bill was an International Team Challenge featuring teams from Wales, & England against the local Irish team. The regular Mondello tourists from the Welsh Championship (for whom were we able to arrange substantial funding, including support from the Sports Council of Wales via the Welsh Association of Motor Clubs) were joined by drivers from the English based Sports Racing and GT Championship (mainly for replicas and kit cars). However Terry Brown was in the wars again with another spectacular engine blow up and a nasty fire in testing. With the circuit now 2.5miles long it was just as well that it all happened towards the end of the lap, and near the pits, otherwise the outcome could have been even worse. Mike Shaw gave Gareth Davies a run out in his Renault Clio. Gareth joined Mike, Mark Chandler, Granville Williams, Clive Hayes, Peter Dark and Alvin Powell on the grid. When the lights changed it was Cheng Lim from the English series who had a major hand in the outcome of the Welsh race. Chinese gentleman Cheng driving his RAM Cobra replica took advantage of another poor start from Alvin to catapult past Peter Dark into the lead. With the giant Cobra on Yokohama road race tyres it wasn’t going to last but Cheng was spectacular whilst his tyres lasted, and Peter couldn’t seem to find a way past initially. However the delay gave Alvin the chance to get into a rhythm and by lap 2 he was right on Peters’ tail and despite a dusty moment on the track edge he was in the right place to take advantage as Chengs tyres finally lost grip and pitched him into a spin. With Peter blocked in, Alvin shot by into the lead and then spent the next 4 laps fending off Peter in one of the better races of the year. Mike Shaw also made his way past Cheng to finish 3rd and thereby sew up the Team Award for the WRDA in the Celtic team challenge. Mark Chandler won his class to keep his 100% record, ahead of Granville and Clive Hayes. Gareth made it to the finish to score a class win in Signrite Class B.

Round 7 Pembrey - Sunday - June 14th - Jaguar Car Club

With Alvin on duty at Le Mans (joining our former members Julian Westwood and Gareth Rees as Welsh drivers in Europe), and Keith Butcher and Martin Davies elsewhere, Roy Tovey returned with his Mk 1 RS2000 for a run out (but after a first lap indiscretion, Granville was probably wishing he’d stayed at home). Terry Brown had given up the struggle with his now unreliable Kawasaki engine unit and switched over to a 1600 c.c BDA unit and he was only .48 of a second behind Peter Dark on the front row of the grid. Joining us for the race was the Eurocar of Graham Miller, and the Caterham of Jeff Orford. As usual with the Jaguar Car Club the race ran for the unusual distance of 13 laps, but after Peter got into Hatchets first and Roy Tovey scattered the midfield with a wild spin on the exit, the race settled to a somewhat predictable pattern Although Terry did liven up things by setting the fastest lap on lap 2, he pulled off with gear selection problems after seven laps. Mike Shaw then settled into 2nd place eventually finishing 10 seconds behind Peter with Graham Miller a further 30 seconds behind. Jeremy Pope mopped up Class B again, with Mark Chandler also taking Class C again. This time however Granville might have been able to give Mark a fight, but whilst Roy got away from his spin with a stove in boot, Granville suffered rather more, and although he soldered on for 11 laps a punctured oil radiator spelt doom for the MR2 engine and the premature end to Granvilles’ season. Nigel Bowen, Clive Hayes and Rhodri Jenkins completed the finishers, but sadly Paul Townsend only managed 2 laps.

Round 8 Donington Park - Saturday - June 27th - Jaguar Car Club

A good entry for one of our longest awaited away rounds found the Jaguar admin under the weather, which itself was decidedly iffy with dark rain clouds hovering around all day. Eventually the grid, which included a whole load of GT type replicas and other cars, was formed but it seemed to be decided on the size of the car rather than any times set during practice, as Mike Shaw found as he was shunted further and further back down the grid! In the event Keith Butcher was well up, along with a returning Dave Jarman and his excellent Datsun 240 ZG. Also returning was Glynne Jones, but this time with a new car, an impressive looking BMW M3. At the lights it was Dave who lead into Redgate followed by Keith, Martin Davies and Nigel Jones but Clive Hayes was an early visitor to the gravel trap . With the track greasy from a small shower Keith was playing it easy, this allowed John Dunlops’ Cobra to get past him and Dave, to take the lead, which he extended by over a second a lap. This left Dave, Keith, Martin & Nigel in a classic four way battle as the track dried. However just when it was looking like Martin was about to make a move on Keith, the M&S Sapphire spun off the track backwards at the Old Hairpin after a core plug blew out and coated the rear tyres with coolant! Keith now got a move on and reeled in Dave Jarman but from lap 7 onwards Dave had his hands full with Nigel Jones (now with his Sierra back in its’ familiar colours). Going into the final lap Nigel forged ahead of Dave at Redgate, only to see a fine 2nd place in the Welsh race disappear within sight of the finishing line as his turbo exploded into flames. "It was a good one, it took the marshals a full extinguisher to put it out! Apart from that it was nice to have such a good race" In the midfield Mark Chandler took 8th place and another Class win, whilst Mike Shaw made his way up to 10th and took Class D. Jeremy Pope had Nigel Bowen for company early on but broke away to take Class B by 5 seconds. Glynne unfortunately only lasted 4 laps before pulling off with a puncture. 5 minutes after the end of our race the heavens opened up and torrential rain flooded the track, bringing an early close to the days racing.

Round 9 Mallory Park - Sunday - July 5th - Aston Martin Owners Club

The usual band of Welsh travelers were mixed with the Porsche Open Series and Mike Shaw was the quickest of the Welsh contenders with Keith Butcher well down after practice problems. With several illustrious names and a lot of nice cars contesting the Porsche race it was nice to Mike well up with the leaders. Martin Davies was also mixing it with the Porsches, and it looked like we might have a great race brewing as Keith carved up from 18th place on the grid to join Martin Davies who was having his own battle with one of the guest drivers from the Porsche series. After a tense couple of laps Butcher was through, and immediately began to swap lap times with Shaw. However after setting the fastest lap with a lap speed of 95.07 m.p.h, Keith pulled off at the hairpin after the strain proved too much for his differential. This left Shaw to run out the remaining laps of the race, finishing 10 seconds in front of Martin Davies. Further down the field, English driver Mark Chandler now looked virtually certain to be the first English driver to win the Welsh Championship as he mopped up his class again having scored 9 class wins in 9 races with his flying Mini. Chandlers’ only realistic challenger, Jeremy Pope dropped out at half distance with a blown engine, leaving Nigel Bowen to take the class win in his Porsche. At this stage of the season the positions in Classes B, C & D were virtually decided. The only question remaining was in Class A, where Martin now had a small lead over Keith Butcher, and Alvin Powell.

Round 10 Pembrey - Saturday - August 15th - BARC F 3 meeting

The usual F3 Saturday experience saw the return of Graham Cole, and having recharged his batteries and refettled his car he put his red Darrian on pole position in the usual F3 meeting early morning practice session. Ian Roberston also joined us but his experience wasn’t so happy. He only managed 2 laps before putting the car back on the trailer! Larry Phillips, also came back to join us, nice to see you Larry! Larry in fact qualified ahead of Keith Butcher who wasn’t having the best of times in the slightly damp conditions. With lots of Ginettas (or is the plural Ginetti?) joining us for a second race it looked a full grid with almost 20cars. Terry Brown was 2nd fastest, followed by Martin, Alvin, Nigel Jones, Dave Jarman, Mark Chandler, Jeremy Pope, Nigel Bowen (Sapphire) Rhodri, Glynne Jones (BMW), Larry, Keith & Ian, all at various stages down the grid. At the start of the 12 lap race held in bright sunshine, Graham Cole established himself in the lead with Terry close behind. However it wasn’t Terrys’ day again and he only lasted 4 laps. Another suffering the blues was Dave Jarman who was an early visitor to the pits, but rejoined to finish 3 laps down. However Keith was again a man on the move and he used the power of the Cosworth to pull up from 17th on the grid to finish 2nd. Obviously during such a charge there might be a few incidents as one of the Ginettas found to his cost as he tried to squeeze through Dibeni with Keith. The glassfibre flew but the little Ginetta was no match for the Eggenberger car and ended up slightly scrambled, with some slight body damage. However by the time Keith got into 2nd, Graham was well gone and won by almost 50 seconds with Martin 6 seconds behind Keith in 3rd place as the lasted uplapped runner. Nigel Jones was 4th in his last run out before making an early start to his 1999 preparations. Mark Chandler made his way up to 5th and with 16 finishers it emphasized the competitive nature of Mark and his Mini package. Later on at the awards night Mark would pay tribute to his back up crew and also give an insight into the stress and strains imposed on the car by running it at such a cracking place. Wheel bearings, transfer gears and the chassis all take a considerable beating during each race.

Round 11 Oulton Park Tom Rowe Trophy Meeting. Jaguar Car Club

Graham Cole in his red Darrian T90 took his second win in a row after an unchallenged win over 8 laps of the full 2.7 mile International course at the Oulton Park meeting dedicated to the memory of Jaguar stalwart Tom Rowe who died tragically earlier in the year from stomach cancer. Tom was a strong supporter during the early years of our championship, and his passing was a shock, as he was one of those people you expect to be around for ever. During the race, Peter Dark kept Graham in sight, but was never quite able to mount a challenge. Mike Shaw, who was over 30 seconds behind the leaders, made it a Darrian 1,2,3 after fighting off an early challenge from Keith Butcher and Terry Brown. Terry, Keith and one of the visitors had an interesting nose to tail duel early on, but sadly Terry pulled off and Keith dropped back as his engine lost power, leaving Shaw to take a worthy 3rd place. In the Production car class Glynne Jones, driving his BMW M3 battled his way past Nigel Bowens’ Porsche to take his first class win of the year, whilst Clive Hayes scored his first win in the 1600 c.c Class after Championship leader Mark Chandler failed to finish and spoilt his 100% record with a broken transmission. Martin Davies also failed to finish and in fact only just made to the first corner before his engine stopped with electrical problems This enabled Keith Butcher pull out a 5 point lead over Martin in Class A which the only class still in doubt. Fred Hicks-Beach joined us from the Castle Combe series with his Golf Gti, but sadly only lasted 2 laps before rattling the armco on both sides of the track at Deers’ Leap. However Fred was quite cool about it and said he hoped to more with us next year.

Rounds 12 & 13 Pembrey - 24/25th October - BARC Trucks meeting

Graham Cole won twice at Pembrey on Sunday to bring his 1998 Welsh Championship to a rousing end. However he was lucky to get a second chance in the first race after spinning off, having been caught out in tricky conditions. After seeing the Pembrey area swamped with overnight rain on Saturday night, on Sunday local flooding knocked out the electrics and we had the novelty of seeing the Welsh race started with a Welsh flag! The question was would pole position man Alvin Powell get a good start? The answer was that he got his best start of the year and started to build up a long lead. However the fates were against him, for with Gareth Davies making it 4 Darrians to take the start for the first time in a long time; all 4 Darrians spun off on the same lap! With Graham Cole, Terry Brown and last years champion Peter Dark all parked in the same place on the outside of the right hander past the pits, the race was stopped! Up until that time Alvin Powell had been building a long lead with his Ford Mondeo, but at the re-start, now with lights restored, Cole made the most of his luck to establish an immediate lead, whilst Powell became involved in a battle with the Sierra Cosworth of Graham Hollis.(Graham was having his annual end of season outing with his mobile crow scarer) After 4 laps on a drying track Alvins’ tyres were losing grip and he was lucky to survive a big slide at Honda curve by bouncing across the grass. This let Graham through to 2nd place, but whilst Alvin put the pressure on in the later stages, his trip across the grass had damaged the underside of the car and upset the handling. With Alvins’ car unable to start the second race, Graham Cole was joined by Peter Dark who was looking for better luck than in the first race, and it was Peter Dark who lead the early laps with Cole close behind. However as the leaders came up to lap the backmarkers, Graham slipped by. Peter tried his best to retake the lead and there was only 2/10ths of a second between them at the end. Afterwards Graham explained "It’s always an advantage to be behind when you are lapping backmarkers and I was in the right place at the right time" Peter the outgoing Champion confirmed. "That was the best race I’ve had all season" There was also close action in the Production class as Nigel Bowen held off the challenge of Jeremy Pope in 2 close finishes. In the 1600 c.c class Mark Chandler, the new champion, had another clean sweep to emphasize his superiority and the effectiveness of the Mini. However the final rounds of the Welsh Championship were overshadowed following the theft of Martin Davies’ competition car at Donington Park on the previous weekend, and the attempted theft of Nigel Bowens’ car. There is no sign of Martins’ car, the Ford Sapphire Cosworth in which he won 3 Welsh titles in a row, which is a shame. (See separate items)

Donington theft rocks Welsh racing.

The theft of Martin Davies’ competition car at Donington Park at the Aston Martin non championship race, and the attempted theft of Nigel Bowens’ car whilst Nigel and his team were on the way up, shocked everyone involved in the Welsh Championship .   Mark Chandler the 1998 champion echoed the thoughts of many when he said in his champions’ address, that he felt heartbroken that it should happen to anyone but particularly Martin, who everyone regarded as a gentleman driver. In hindsight the moral is, that as CCTV and better security measures deny criminals the easy pickings they have had in the past, they have obviously started to see us as a soft target. We will have to respond by becoming more security conscious from now on. Insurance for competition cars can protect your investment, at very reasonable premiums).

On a lighter note Martin appears now to be getting back to his old self and said that he had recently been re united with his Mk2 Escort which he was going to prepare as a multi discipline vehicle with the intention of taking in some rallies and races in the future. In the meantime he would continue to be involved in the championship in some form or other

Chandler thanks everyone for his championship success at Awards Dinner. Mark Chandler thanked a whole host of people for his championship success, not least his mother in law, who happens to be a major sponsor! Mark also paid tribute to his wife Liz for her support. He went on to say that for him the 500 mile round trip to Pembrey was worth it as he loved the track and he complimented the drivers on making it an enjoyable and clean championship full of gentleman drivers. The Awards dinner was another success with even more people enjoying an excellent meal, a super disco from Paul Dark, Peters’ son, and a Full Monty strip from the award winners! Book early for 1999.


1998 Welsh Sports & Saloon Championship
Overall Home town Car total
1st Mark Chandler Huntingdon Mini


2nd Jeremy Pope Bristol Ford Cosworth


3rd Peter Dark Mid Wales Darrian T90


4th joint Keith Butcher Bristol Ford Cosworth


and Clive Hayes St Davids Rover 216 Gti


6th Graham Cole Caerphilly Darrian T90


M&S Engineering Services Class A for Modified Cars
Driver Points
Keith Butcher


Martin Davies


Alvin Powell


Signrite Class B for Production Cars
Jeremy Pope


Nigel Bowen


Glynne Jones


Brecon Motors Class C for 1600 c.c cars
Mark Chandler


Clive Hayes


Jonathan Williams


Darrian Cars Class D
Peter Dark


Graham Cole


Mike Shaw