Image courtesy of Carl Wiles
Ellis Crosses Over To Rally Cross
Dolgellau’s Sion Ellis converted from his usual rally driving to try his hand at the opening round of the BTRDA Clubmans Rallycross Championship in a hired Citroen C2.
Ellis, who is no stranger to motorsport finishing runner-up in the 2016 ANWCC Championship, is more accustomed to racing the clock through the forests of Wales with a navigator but decided to try something new on Sunday and enjoyed a pair of podiums on his debut on this unique sport. “Rallycross is very different, we race each other on a dirt and tarmac circuit. The driving style is very similar to rallying, but I need to get used to the idea of other cars around me.” Explained Ellis.
With no previous experience, the day started with two practice runs at the Blyton Motorsport Circuit before the first of three heats got underway and Ellis, backed by Landsail Tyres, showed he could acclimatise well to the new surroundings. “I took things steady in the first one, got a good feel for the car but I think I was being too polite on the circuit. Really please to come away with a podium finish though” Said Ellis.
The second heat saw Ellis claim another third place before the third heat saw an amalgamation of classes. “We were up against cars from the bigger class so I’m happy with a 5th place. My positions today put me in the final this afternoon, so it’s been a good day so far.” Commented the Blendline Apparel supported driver.
The final didn’t quite go to plan as the race saw Ellis’ 1600cc class joined by larger 2000cc and Super Modified vehicles. Ellis was t-boned early in the race but climbed back to 4th before another driver spun the AutoMax driver out of contention. “It’s been a really entertaining day, this was only a one off to start with, but I may have to speak to R1 Motorsport about hiring the car again for the next round!”
Image courtesy of Geoff Bengough Image courtesy of Black Mountain Media
Championship lead for Ellis
12th July 2016
Dolgellau’s Sion Ellis drove with the championship in mind on the weekend’s Nicky Grist Stages as he now continues to lead his class, category and the overall standings of the ANWCC Championship.
With stand-in navigator Siobhan Pugh alongside, Ellis headed to Builth Wells where the Welsh and ANWCC competitors were joined by the elite of the British Rally Championship for the event run in the forests of Crychan, Halfway, Route 60 and Monument.
An opening loop of four stages was to see Ellis take the Landsail Tyres supported Nissan Sunny to 52nd overall after a tricky morning in the damp and misty forests. “It’s really difficult out there, the stages have cut up meaning we’re losing traction in the rough sections. The AutoMax boys are having to change some damaged suspension components already.” Said Ellis.
Heading out for the afternoon loop, a repeat of the first, the stages were to suffer more damage to the roads leading to Ellis and Pugh taking the decision to get the Morris Lubricants backed Nissan to the finish of the event. “With the positions we hold in the championship, it would have been silly to cause more damage to the car and risk more valuable points.” Explained Ellis. “We dropped time in the afternoon costing us some places but the car is still in one piece and we continue to lead the ANWCC series.”
Ellis ended the event 56th overall and now leads the Overall, Two-Wheel-Drive and class championships while also maintain his class podium position in the Welsh Rally Championship. The result also gives Pugh the lead in the FMP Challenge.
Ellis focused on Championship
July 4th 2016
Dolgellau’s Sion Ellis heads to Mid-Wales this weekend, as his Welsh and ANWCC Rally Championship campaign takes him to the Nicky Grist Stages, held in the forests around the Epynt Military Ranges.
The Landsail Tyres backed driver looks to strengthen his championship lead within the ANWCC series while also build on his third position in class for the Welsh Championship having missed the previous round last month. “Finances and time constraints forced us to miss the last round of the Welsh, but fortunately we didn’t lose too much group to our championship competitors.” Said Ellis.
Ellis will be joined by Siobhan Pugh for the Nicky Grist Stages, as usual navigator Dan Nieroda has Formula One commitments. Pugh guided Ellis earlier in the year when the pair took a class win on the Mid-Wales Stages, “We get on well with Siobhan, she has experience with many drivers in many cars and we both really like this event. The stages a fast and flowing so should suit our car.” Explained Sion. “The event runs with the British Rally Championship this year too, so there will be a good amount spectator’s out on the stages.”
Setting off from the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells, the Morris Lubricants supported Nissan Sunny GTi will be joined by the best drivers in the country as the British Rally Championship will also feature on the event. Ellis said, “It’s great to be part of the top championship in the country against the best drivers. Obviously their cars are more powerful (and expensive!) compared to our Nissan but we will be focusing on our own rally.”
Dusty Dyfi Drama for Ellis
It was another tough day in the office for the Welsh pairing of Sion Ellis and Dan Nieroda as they fought their way to a credible 69th overall on the recent Plains Rally in Welshpool.
The 50th anniversary of the rally saw over 150 crews take the start in Welshpool town centre as the event contributed to the BTRDA, ANWCC and Welsh rally championships. Sion Ellis from Dolgellau was looking to add to his points haul in his Welsh and ANWCC championship campaign with regular navigator Dan Nieroda from Chester alongside in the Nissan Sunny GTi.
The Dyfi Forest complex basked in sunshine for the day as spectators and competitors alike entered the forest for the anniversary event and the Landsail Tyres backed team were keen for another strong performance. “We currently lead our class in the ANWCC championship and are second in our Welsh class, so it’s important to maintain our consistency in both series.” Said Ellis.
With three stages for the opening loop, Ellis and Nieroda settled into a good rhythm to hold 75th place overall, thirty places above their start position. “It’s very dry and dusty out there, there is a lot of loose gravel on the surface so it’s been important to stay on the line to avoid losing grip. The stages are fast too, our car runs a near standard engine so we’re losing out to the more modified cars in our class.” Explained Ellis as they arrived for the lunch-time service halt in Dolgellau and with a quick check over from the AutoMax team the Morris Lubricants supported Nissan Sunny was ready for the afternoon loop of four more stages.
The first stage of the four saw Ellis and Nieroda drop some time as a slow-puncture hampered their progress up the leader board. “We felt it start going down towards the end of the stage, the car wasn’t reacting to the steering as well as it should but we were able to put on the spare before the next three stages.” Said Nieroda.
Another dramatic finish to a rally was to come for the Blendline Apparel backed crew, as two miles before the end of the penultimate stage the Nissan was to lose braking after a line to the rear split allowing fluid to leak. “It wasn’t the best feeling, having to pump the pedal before each corner so we could at least slow down a little.” Explained Ellis. “After the stage we used a pair of mole-grips to hold the line closed so we still some form of braking on the car. We had to take a steady run through the final stage, we had useful points available and it certainly wasn’t worth going silly in the final few miles of the rally.”
With a set of grips ensuring the car would still come to a halt, Ellis and Nieroda managed a respectable 69th overall and ensures Ellis maintains his class lead in the Welsh National Championship.
Dramatic end to Rally North Wales for Ellis
April 4th 2016
With the event stating in his hometown, Sion Ellis was looking forward to the third round of the Welsh Rally Championship as Rally North Wales brought nearly 130 crews to Dolgellau.
Returning to the Landsail Tyres-backed team was Kelsall's Dan Nieroda who had competed on the last two rallies with another driver. “It’s great to have Dan back alongside, having spent most of last season together the trust we have developed over the year means I know I can fully commit to what he is telling me in the car.” Said Ellis as the crews left a damp Dolgellau before heading into the Dyfi forest complex.
An opening loop of three stages saw the Nissan Sunny GTI cope well with the conditions as some suspension changes before the event allowed a more committed driving style from Ellis. “I’ve got much more confidence in the car now, the handling is much more predictable and is allowing me to set the car up before the corner with confidence.” Explained Ellis as the AutoMax team looked over the car in service.
With two stages to go, both a re-run of an earlier stage the Welsh pairing were more than aware of the challenges ahead. “With so many cars going over the same bit of road the conditions can change dramatically; it still hasn’t stopped raining either so all the water on the roads will still be there, or possibly more.” Said Nieroda before the start of the final stage, and it was that water that was to cause a dramatic finish to the event for the Morris Lubricants-backed pair.
With conditions worsening a steady run saw Ellis and Nieroda maintain their position overall after stage four but a large amount of standing water was to catch the Blendline Apparel pairing as slide ended dramatically after contact with a forest bank damaged both front steering. With only half a mile to go, Ellis dragged the car to the end of stage where the AutoMax team were able to replace the damaged components with only minutes to spare.
“It all happened very quickly, we were fortunate not to drop too much time but the important thing for us is the finish, not just as we have family and friends waiting for us here in Dolgellau but we will hopefully maintain our positions in the championships.” Said Ellis at the finish line.
Ellis and Nieroda claimed 19th overall and 6th in class, collecting a wealth of points in the Welsh and ANWCC Rally Championships. The season will resume for the AutoMax team in May with the Plains Rally in Welshpool, while Nieroda will be out in two weeks time in Somerset with another Welshman, Roland Llewellin in a Mitsubishi.
Ellis Braves Weather in Mid-Wales
March 8th 2016
Treacherous conditions on the weekends Mid Wales Stages did not stop Sion Ellis taking his best result in his new car, on the second round of the Welsh Rally Championship.
Making the journey from Dolgellau, Ellis was joined for this event by experienced navigator Siobhan Pugh as the Landsail Tyres backed team set off from Newtown on Sunday morning before starting two snow covered stages in Myherin forest.
The opening stage was to be a steady run for the crew as they acclimatised to the conditions and settled into the rally just outside the top twenty. “Its really hard to know how much grip there is, there’s snow, slush, mud and ice so the car is sliding around a lot which affects your confidence.” Said Ellis, who was to up the pace on the second stage in his Nissan Sunny to break into the top twenty. “We learned a lot in the first stage so I could see where the grip was in that second one, it felt much better and I’m really getting to grips with the car now.”
After a service halt back in Newtown, the Morris Lubricants supported Nissan headed to the longest stage of the rally, but disappointment was to come as the stage was cancelled forcing the Welsh pairing to take a notional time given by the organisers which also denied an opportunity to gain more places. But the final stage of the day saw Ellis move up one place to 19th overall, also taking 4th in class for his best result in his Landsail Tyres Nissan Sunny.
“The event has gone well for us, the AutoMax prepared Sunny ran faultlessly all day and I’m finally feeling confident in the car. Importantly for us, we also now take the lead in our class in the Welsh Rally Championship.” Explained Ellis at the events finish podium in Newtown.
The championship returns next month to Ellis’ hometown of Dolgellau for Rally North Wales. (Image courtesy of SJones Photography)
AutoMax changes for 2016 Rally Season
9th February 2016
As the opening round of the 2016 BTRDA and Welsh Rally Championship nears, the AutoMax Rally Team will look somewhat different as they line up for the Cambrian Rally this weekend.
Firstly, the trusty Nissan Micra has been replaced by a more powerful Nissan Sunny GTi, a former works vehicle from the Nissan MotorSport Europe team and used by Sion Ellis and Dan Nieroda on last years Rally North Wales but has since undergone a minor rebuild. “The car will be a step up for us in terms of speed, but the knowledge gained from competing in the Micra will be vital.” Explained Ellis from his AutoMax workshop. “It has a ‘dog-box’ and being left-hand drive will take some getting used too.”
The team will also have a new navigator, as Sarah Edwards joins the team having spent the past few years in the ANWCC Championship collecting 3rd Overall in the Stage Rally Championship in 2015. “We are looking forward to working with Sarah, she doesn’t have much experience in the forests however we are confident in her ability and hope to be as successful as her previous drivers.” Said Ellis.
The car will also feature a new supporter for the 2016 campaign, as Landsail Tyres have backed the Welshman as they expand their involvement in motorsport. “It is great to have someone like Landsail on the car, they are keen to help us and we are keen to show them what we are capable of in both terms of performance and promotion” added Sion. Landsail Tyres have been supporters of motorsport since they entered the UK market four years ago and are an ever increasing brand as currently 1 in 25 tyres bought in the UK is a Landsail.
The debut for the newly liveried Nissan Sunny will be the Cambrian Rally this weekend where Sion and Sarah will be hoping to maintain the run of form for the AutoMax team, collecting two second in classes in previous years.
Trackrod Trophy For Ellis
September 26th, 2015
Making the trip to the forests of Yorkshire at the weekend, Dolgellau’s Sion Ellis made the most of his debut on the Trackrod Rally by collecting a fine second in class.
With a stand-in navigator, Ellis was joined for this event by Caron Tomlinson from Betws-Y-Coed, for the penultimate round of the Vital Equipment Rally First Championship. “It’s the first time I’ve been into these forests, Caron has knowledge of the area but we are just hear for experience really.” Explained Ellis at his workshop.
Supported by Morris Lubricants, the Nissan Micra was to start the rally at a steady pace, taking fifth in class on the opening stage. “The stages are long and very fast, I don’t think I’ve had the Micra going so quick before.” Said Sion at the first service point, having gained a place to fourth in the competitive Rally First class.
The middle two stages saw improvements in times for the Welsh duo, but with a class battle so close there was no movement in places. “The aim for the rally is to learn the stages, it’s very different to the forests in Wales and we’re really enjoying it.” Explained Ellis.
With two stages to go, drama on the final 8.5mile Dalby stage saw the AutoMax prepared Nissan Micra head back to the finish in second place. The pressure of the battle saw two crews leave the road allowing Ellis and Tomlinson a place on the podium and a good haul of points in the Vital Equipment Rally First series. “The position really wasn’t expected, we knew the car would struggle against the quicker ones of our class with how long the straights are here.” Said a jubilant Ellis at Pickering Showground, the venue for the event.
Next up for the AutoMax team will the Cambrian Rally, where Sion will be joined by usual navigator Dan Nieroda of Chester.