Warwick driver Matthew Jackson and his co-driver Claire Williams were forced to pull out of the Plains Rally after a problem-strewn opening morning in Welshpool.
The fourth rounds of the BTRDA and Pirelli Welsh National Gravel Championships attracted a sell-out entry of a 150 competing crews, with Jackson and Williams hoping to build on three podium finishes from their last three outings.
However, despite setting a steady pace on the opening stage in their 1400cc Nissan Micra as they got to grips with their newly improved gearbox, Jackson was quick to identify clutch problems.
With remote assistance from their service crews prohibited between stages, the 2300 Club John Easson award winner carried out temporary roadside repairs to ensure they could continue.
The duo would soon encounter a far greater headache when the Micra’s power steering gradually failed through stages two and three, resulting in Jackson facing an exhausting drive on the notoriously tight and twisty stages.
The midday service halt would allow their service teams to repair the issues from the morning loop of stages.
Unfortunately, on further inspection of the power steering system, a severe and relentless leak of hydraulic fluid would prove to be terminal, to the disappointment of Jackson.
He said: “Given the power steering system powers other vital components, we had to take the difficult decision to retire from the remainder of rally in order to save the engine from potential damage.”
And, with rallying in Wales under threat due to the potential doubling of costs for the use of Welsh forestry lands by National Resource Wales (NRW), it looks like being a forgettable farewell for the PowerMaxed support pairing.