Matador Middleton is just Champion
Llandrindod Wells-based Craig Middleton produced a polished performance to take third place on the final round of the MSA National Gravel Rally Championship. More importantly, on the Bulldog Rally Middleton has done enough to secure his first major championship title alongside his three National Junior titles.
With co-driver Robin Hernaman, the pressure was on for the Hyundai Accent WRC crew to prevent rival Roger Duckworth from winning the final round. Even if Duckworth was to win the rally, Middleton would only have to finish in the top nine to guarantee his first National title.
Backed by Matador Tyres, Middleton was not going to let Duckworth have an easy ride. Rather than cruise around to secure a finish, Middleton decided the best option was to set a strong pace. He immediately slotted into second place overall, first in the MSA National Gravel Championship points. Duckworth was struggling as transmission glitches were costing him time. Middleton did his best to relax but the nerves were still jangling as the Hyundai reached second service ahead of Duckworth’s Subaru.
Heading into the final eight mile stage in Dyfnant forest, Middleton was able to relax. The Welshman knew that a clean and tidy run
through this stage would net him the championship and Middleton duly delivered. Arriving back at the rally finish in Oswestry, Middleton was thrilled to have secured the MSA National Gravel Title for the first time. He has previously won the National Junior Championship and was delighted to have secured the senior title after a faultless performance.
It is the first time that the title has been lifted by both a father and son. Graham Middleton won the National rally championship in 1989, now followed by Craig in 2006.
“I’m thrilled to bits!” said Craig Middleton at the end of the rally. “I’ve got to say a massive thank you to everyone in our team for their efforts and support this year. Robin has been superb all season and everyone has pulled together to give us this opportunity. Matador Tyres have been faultless and they have given us superb performance all year long. I could not have asked for more this year. We’ve won a few rallies in the past but it feels really good to have won this title for the first time.”
Middleton also remains in with a shout of winning the first ever REAG Rally Cup this year. The pan-European competition ends in Italy next month and Craig Middleton and Robin Hernaman currently lead this series. The prize is a fully funded
drive in a Peugeot 206 WRC on the Bettega RallySprint in Italy later