Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages 2024

After going to the Dukeries Rally with Owen earlier in the year, I was keen to get to a “proper” forest rally – and the next one scheduled was the Rally Nuts Severn Valley Stages, in Mid Wales – a round of the British Rally Championship. Even better, it was just after I had bought my Fuji X-H2S, so it would be a perfect opportunity to put it through its paces. My dad was also keen to watch a rally, so a plan was hatched.

As an early start was needed to catch the cars on the first loop of stages, I stayed at my parent’s house for the night so we could make a quick getaway. Usually I would relish an early morning blast across to Wales, but due to logistics we ended up going in the van. It was still a decent drive though, and we stopped for bacon sandwiches as a second breakfast, shortly after crossing the Welsh border. First we went to Sweet Lamb, as it seemed that it would be the easiest stage to get to and park at. It felt strange being somewhere that I have seen so much on television, it always looked like a cold place on television, and the reality matched that. As we waited in the spectator area low clouds drifted over, occasionally clearing. We would hear the cars coming before we saw them coming down the hill, round a corner, through the water splash, over a jump, then round a couple of hairpins and across the finish line. Whilst it was great watching the cars, we were stating to get cold as the last classes of cars were coming through. So we decided that we would watch the afternoon loop from the Myherin stage – via a third breakfast at the cafe in Devil’s Bridge.

By the time we arrived to Myherin, and had parked up on the side of the fireroad, and walked up to the viewing area, the sun had come out. I am not sure if it was the weather, or the better location, in the forest, but spectating at Myherin was one of my favourite motorsport experiences. Seeing the cars drifting through the back-to-back right angled, right hand corners and hearing them continue down the stage was exactly what I imagined rally spectating to be. The classic Escorts were mostly sideways (predictably), but it was also impressive seeing the top drivers in their modern four wheel drive machinery being millimetre perfect on the apex of the corner. There was also a Mitsubishi Evo VI who just brushed the large rock on the apex of the first corner, to gasps from the crowd – caught perfectly with the 20FPS of the X-H2S. However, my favourite car of the day was the classic 911 driven by Seb Perez (photo at the top of the post), it was good to see the mix of classic and more modern machinery on the rally. Also of note was that Jos Verstappen, ex-F1 driver, and father of current F1 world champion Max Verstappen, was taking part in his first gravel rally.

It was a good first test for the X-H2S, paired with my Fuji XF 50-140mm lens, the autofocus locked onto the cars, with the car subject detect mode activated. And the 20FPS shutter ensured that I could select the prime frame in Lightroom when I got home. I felt like a came home with way more keepers that I would have done had I been shooting with my old Fuji X-T2.

Spectating at a gravel rally in a Welsh forest really lived up to the hype, it was defiantly worth the early start, the long day in the van and spending the morning on a cold Welsh hillside. Seeing the cars sideways on the gravel, especially at close quarters was such a great experience. It was also nice to spend the whole day just with my dad, something that we do not manage to do enough.