Will Nicholls’ Subaru on its roof at the Cambrian Rally.
RALLYINGWILL Nicholls’ title challenge came to a disastrous end on Saturday when he crashed out three miles into the first stage of the Cambrian Rally.
The North Wales event was the final round of the BTRDA Championship and Nicholls only needed to finish higher than seventh to claim the overall title.
But just minutes into his challenge, he slid off a hairpin bend and rolled onto his roof.
Because of the attendance of World Rally title contender Mikko Hirvonen, and a clutch of Wales Rally GB entrants — the forests were lined with thousands of enthusiasts and it took a team of burly spectators over 12 minutes to put the car back on its roof before dragging it back on to the road.
Awarded a stage maximum for the Clocaenog test, Godshill-based Nicholls and co-driver Nick Broom were devastated at seeing the title disappear after winning three rounds during the summer and taking maximum points on a fourth.
Nicholls said: "I feel so stupid. One of the things I do not normally do is crash and this was such a simple corner that it should not have been a problem.
"Maybe it was the pressure or simply that I am no good at driving at 90 per cent, because we certainly were not going for it." Despite being relegated to 85th overall, the IW Team elected to continue as there was still an outside chance and so they mounted an all-out attack.
But stage 2 was no better. Nicholls and Broom went wide on a fast sweeping left turn and nosed off the track into a small ditch. Reversing out, again with the valuable assistance of some human manpower, they ripped the front bumper off.
They decided to continue and everything seemed to be going well until about four miles into the stage when they hit a massive pothole, causing the suspension to collapse two miles later.
"Three accidents in three stages is not quite what we expected, neither was finishing fifth overall in the championship but that is how it goes sometimes," said Nicholls.
The team is now hoping the car can be repaired in time for The JLTrally.com Tempest Rally in Aldershot on November 7, a contest Nicholls and Broom have already won three times.