Clitheroe rally driver Russ Thompson will have to wait another month to kick-off the defence of his BTRDA Production Cup title after the series opening Cambrian Rally was cancelled last weekend.
Snow and ice created treacherous conditions in the forests of North Wales.
Thompson and long standing co-driver Andy Murphy arrived at the rally’s Llandudno base eagerly anticipating the start of a season where the pair are not only aiming to retain their class title, but also targeting improving on their third place in the 2016 Gold Star championship standings.
Arriving for an 8-38 a.m. start for the day’s first six and a half mile stage, conditions were already tricky, with fresh overnight snow lying on top of frozen forest tracks.
It was a leap into the unknown, with the difficulty underlined with spins and stalls aplenty for the field, with Thompson himself claiming three in the opening half mile.
Over the rest of the stage however, the 29-year- old was clean and precise finishing with the seventh fastest overall time and a mammoth 58-second lead over second placed group N runner Richard Hill, however it was an advantage that would prove academic.
With 47 of the 118 strong entry list through the first test, the stage and the rest of the rally were abandoned on the advice of the Motor Sport Association safety delegate.
Thompson’s focus is now firmly fixed on turning potential into results on the Malcolm Wilson Rally on Saturday, March 11th from Cockermouth.
Thompson said: “The conditions were very slippery, we knew they would be and spoke on the start-line about just taking it steady and getting around the first corner, but I just couldn’t get the car stopped properly and we went wide.
“We had three spins in the first half a mile but once I had it clear in my head where the grip levels were, we had a pretty good run through.
“Rally is meant to be a challenging sport and that stage really was and I actually really enjoyed it.”