A world-leading electric vehicle converter, a three-time British Rally Champion and a Cardiff University journalism graduate have collected awards from Welsh Motoring Writers.
Rally driver Matt Edwards received the Tom Pryce Memorial Trophy, Electric Classic Cars was presented with the Terry Davies Automotive Award, and Sam Cross won the John Arfon Edwards Memorial Prize.
With rallying in his blood (his father having been a top rally co-driver) Matt’s first taste of competitive motorsport came in 2004 in the Cambrian Rally, when (unknown to his family) he spent his student grant on a Vauxhall Astra Mk2 and converted it to rally specification.
Although he finished 92nd, he was hooked and competed in local events before entering the BTRDA Championship (British Trial and Rally Drivers Association) in 2007 with the trusty Astra, winning the B8 class and placed second overall.
This success raised his profile and although he spent nights in a tent or sleeping in his car for some events, as well as acting as his own mechanic when friends or family were unavailable, he came to the attention of Swift Group in 2010, and eventually secured long-term sponsorship.
Matt has faced adversity a number of times in his career, including a long recovery after crashing while co-driving, and went on to become the British Rally Champion in 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Now focused on tuition and instruction, Matt received the Tom Pryce Memorial Trophy from Welsh Motoring Writers member Andrew Charman on the eve of the 2023 Rally North Wales on 24th March.
Delighted with the news that he was a recipient of the prestigious trophy, he said: “This has made my day!”
Welsh Motoring Writers chair Simon Harris said: “Matt is one of the best rally drivers Wales has produced, and his record-breaking three consecutive British Rally Championship wins is among the many highlights of his career that made him an obvious choice as a recipient of the Tom Pryce Memorial Trophy.”
Electric Classic Cars began when owner Richard Morgan wanted access to more performance for his own race projects. From humble origins in his garage in 2016, the Newtown business now has a workshop with bays for up to 16 vehicles and has completed 70 conversions to date.
In the workshop during the trophy presentation were a Porsche 912, two Ferrari Testarossas, an Aston Martin V8 Saloon, a Jensen Interceptor and a Maserati Ghibli.
Richard said the process begins by discussing priorities with the customer, and whether they want to prioritise range, performance or practicality. The target is to limit any weight increase as a result of the conversion to just 80kg, equivalent to carrying a passenger.
The business currently employs 13 people, and expects to grow to 21 by the end of the year, as well as expand the workshop.
Receiving the Terry Davies Automotive Award on Saturday 25th March, Richard said: “As a car enthusiast, and a proud Welshman, I’m delighted to have our achievements recognised by the Welsh Motoring Writers.”
WMW chair Simon Harris said: “Converting classic cars to electric power may be distasteful to some purists, but car enthusiasm is a broad church, but there are many logical reasons for owners wanting to convert an old car to modern electric power.
“Electric Classic Cars is a world-leading business in this field, and having it located in the heart of Wales, poised for further growth and supporting other local businesses in its supply chain, is a remarkable achievement.”
The event concluded with the presentation of the John Arfon Edwards Memorial Prize to Cardiff University graduate Sam Cross. The prize was inaugurated in 2015 in memory of WMW co-founder John Arfon Edwards.
Initially run in partnership with Cardiff University’s automotive journalism MA, the prize is now open to journalism students at all universities in Wales.
The prize is supported by Porsche Cars GB, which provides half of the £1,000 prize money, as well as a driving session at the Porsche Experience Centre, Silverstone. It is also supported by Haymarket Media, with the publisher offering work experience to the winner.
Two Cardiff University graduates were shortlisted for the prize, with Sam Cross, who submitted a piece on whether the UK will be ready for the planned transition to solely electric new car sales, being chosen as the winner. Highly commended was Nikita Achanta, who submitted an article on moves to make Formula 1 more sustainable in conflict with the sports calendar, which involves shipping hundreds of tonnes of vehicles, equipment and people in a sometimes wasteful pattern across the world.
Sam said: “I’m honoured to have won the award, joining a prestigious group of fantastic journalists in the process.”
WMW chair Simon Harris said: “We see supporting the next generation of motoring writers as vital to ensuring the best talent finds a pathway into our profession.
“Both Sam and Nikita are worthy finalists, and we are grateful to Porsche Cars GB and Haymarket Media for helping us put together such a desirable prize.”
About Welsh Motoring Writers
Welsh Motoring Writers is a group of professional motoring writers and journalists with links to Wales and the Marcher Country. WMW members work in print, radio, television and across all forms of electronic media. Tom Pryce Memorial Trophy – Gwobr Goffa Tom Pryce Tom Pryce was Wales' greatest racing driver. On the brink of winning every prize his career could offer, his life was tragically cut short during the 1977 South African Grand Prix at Kyalami. A fire marshal ran into his path and both were killed. The award is given annually to a Welsh man or woman who has excelled in the realms of motoring or transport. It can be also a Corporate Award bestowed upon an undertaking which can show a 'special relationship' with Wales and its automotive sector and/or has made a significant contribution to Welsh economic and cultural life. Automotive Achievement Award/Terry Davies Automotive Award The Automotive Achievement Award, established in 2010, recognises personal or corporate excellence in the automotive sector. This was renamed the Terry Davies Automotive Award in 2017, in memory of our first chairman. John Arfon Edwards Memorial Prize Established in 2015 and now open to journalism students at all universities in Wales, candidates complete a piece of work that is appraised by a judging panel of Welsh motoring Writers members. The winner receives £1,000, including £500 provided by Porsche Cars GB, a driving session at the Porsche Experience Centre, Silverstone, and two weeks work experience at Haymarket automotive publications. http://www.motoringwriters.com/about-us.html