Cameron Davies, the 17-year-old rally star from Llandovery, stunned the competition when he stormed his way to a class win on his REIS-Get Connected! BTRDA Rally Series debut and in only his second gravel rally.
Don’t be fooled by Cameron’s age – he’s been working towards competing in full gravel rallies since he was 14 years old and started competing in the Pirelli backed British Junior Championship in a 1ltr Nissan Micra. He’s got more experience behind the wheel than many of his older competition and is the future of British rallying at the top level.
After burning the midnight oil, the teenager headed to the Lake District town of Cockermouth for his first foray in to the ultra-competitive BTRDA Rally Series, after only contesting one other gravel rally – Wales Rally GB National. Unsure what to expect considering the experience of the competition, he decided to drive within himself and judge his times at the midday service.
“It was a real race against time just to get to the Malcolm Wilson. We’ve been converting the Micra to RF1.4 spec, which allows very basic safety modifications and a 1.3 engine in the little car – the team did a fantastic job to get us up there and finished the car on Thursday.
“We had no idea how our pace would compare. By the time we came in to service we were pleasantly surprised to see we were leading the class by nearly 30 seconds from Mick Smith, the ex-Skoda Challenge star.”
Comfortable with their pace, in a completely untested car, Cameron and co-driver Alistair Dodd decided to continue without taking any risks – but fate would have other plans.
“We were having a good run through the first of the infamous Grizedale stages, taking a further 12 seconds out of Mick and 25 seconds out of ex-Junior, Aaron McClure but then in the second of the long stages we had an overheating problem.”
Distracted by the rising temperature gauge, the crew span and were unable to find reverse gear, resulting in time lost.
“We’d taken a big cut earlier in the stage which had damaged the gear linkage. That was the least of our worries as we got to the end of the stage and had steam rising out of the engine bay – our service team confirmed the worst as it was diagnosed as a failing head gasket.”
With a rerun through Greystoke Forest, the pair drove as carefully as they dared, with Mick Smith still within pouncing distance should Cameron and Alastair be unable to finish, but still managed to take 17 seconds out of Smith.
Wythop, the final 3 miles of the rally, provided the tensest stage Cameron had ever experienced.
“It was such a short stage but could easily have proven the sting in the tail of the event. We knew we could take it steady, with a 53 second lead, and took no risks, losing just 2 seconds to Mick by the finish.”
In his BTRDA debut, and only his second gravel event, Cameron Davies and Alastair Dodd finished an incredible 1st in class, 51 seconds ahead of their nearest rival.
“We really couldn’t have done any of this without RDH Contactors, Delta Pet Nutrition and PEC as our sponsors. They’ve supported me throughout and I’m looking forward to rewarding them with many more similar results.
“The plan now is to sort the head gasket, find some time to properly shake the car down and contest the next round of the championship, the Somerset Stages in Minehead.”
You can keep up to date with all of Cameron’s rallying activities on his website www.camerondavies.com and by following him on twitter @Cameron_Davies.