Ioan Lloyd and Sion Williams secured their second Stellantis Motorsport Rally Cup IRE & UK victory of the season, after taking a breathtaking win at the Assess Ireland International Rally of the Lakes [4/5 May].

The Welsh pairing battled all rally long with Keelan Grogan and Cian Caldwell for the Cup lead, eventually grabbing the top spot for good on the first of Sunday’s stages to take the all-important win by just over 26 seconds from Grogan. It would be Kyle McBride who took the final podium spot, albeit over a minute down on the leader.

Promoted by Race & Rally, the new-for-2024 one-make championship for both Peugeot 208 and Opel Corsa Rally4 machines allows drivers to compete for a staggering €75,000 prize fund across eight epic events in Ireland and the UK.

A cash pot of €6,000 is available to the first five crews’ home at each event, with the winner collecting €3,000, sliding down to €500 for fourth place. The fifth-placed driver receives one Michelin Motorsport tyre from distributors Protyre Motorsport Ireland. Plus, the Junior champion at the end of the season will receive registration to the 2025 FIA Junior European Rally Championship, entry fees to six rounds of the Junior ERC and 12 tyres per round contested in the series, worth almost €40,000.

So, the stakes are high this season, which has led to an insatiable fight for supremacy out on the stages and Rally of the Lakes did not disappoint. Lloyd was fastest out of the blocks, taking a slender 2.5-second lead over Caldwell and Liam Egan. 

But Lloyd haemorrhaged time on the third test and Caldwell was ready to pounce, taking the lead, only to lose it again on the next after dropping almost 18 seconds to the scratch time from Grogan. By the time crews headed for the second service, Lloyd was back on top, but it would be Grogan that went into the overnight halt with the Cup lead. 

However, the Welshman found his calling on Sunday, winning every one of the six stages to take the RC4 class win, €3,000 top prize and more importantly, add to his West Cork Rally top spot and as a result, take control of the series.

“What an incredible weekend,” said an elated Lloyd.

“After a hard-fought battle in the RC4 class, we’ve never had such a close battle over two days of rallying on some demanding stages, it feels absolutely class to have taken the win after a great battle with Ryan [MacHugh – third place in RC4, non-Cup contender] and Keelan, it’s a great group of competitors and the pace is very fast.

“We scored maximum points in the Stellantis Cup, it was important that we bagged some valuable points here this weekend after our misfortune on round 2, so absolutely delighted with the win. A big thanks to Sion doing a phenomenal job on the notes all weekend.”

But it could quite easily have gone to any one of the Stellantis Cup contenders with Grogan and co-driver Ayrton Sherlock setting a more than healthy pace during the weekend. Sunday’s repeat loop of three stages would be their nemesis, just falling away from Lloyd’s unrelenting pace to claim the runner-up spot and the €1,750 second prize. Grogan is now Lloyd’s nearest challenger in the standings.

Sadly, it was not such a positive end to Caldwell’s charge. An inspiring performance over the opening day was brought to a halt with three stages to go, ending his and Liam Egan’s rally off the road. That left McBride and Darragh Mullen to climb onto the podium after a consistent weekend behind the wheel.

One of only two drivers to score on every round this season, Casey Jay Coleman/Lorcan Moore secured fourth spot after a confidence-boosting run in the Lakes. The pairing has closed the gap to the leaders of late, and a solid drive at the weekend edged them to fourth in the standings.

Matthew Boyle/Gary Byrne would show a promising pace on their Cup debut to round out the top five whilst Joseph Kelly/Killian McArdle secured sixth spot. Kallum Graffin/Mark McGeehan getting their first points of the season on the board in seventh and Niall O’Sullivan/Thomas Hayes took eighth.

It was a tough end to a tough rally for round two winners Robert Proudlock/Steven Brown, who slid their 208 Rally4 into a ditch on the final stage, within sight of a valuable finish. The Opel Corsa Rally4 pairing of John O’Rourke/Brian Rowan would also exit early, with a heavy impact on the tenth test.

The fourth round of the Cup remains in Ireland for the legendary Donegal International Rally in June.


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