Thursday, 2 June 2011

Rallying Call

Regular visitors to Overdrive will have spotted regular press releases from Jason Pritchard, who's competing in the British Rally championship - There's another one below in fact. Jason was in action on the Jim Clark Rally last weekend, but suffered some bad luck and didn't make it to the finish whilst Bogie extended his championship lead with a lead.

But it's not just about the British Rally Championship. The British Trials and Rally Driver's Association also run a very popular series that is frequented by several competitors from the BRC. It also features some amazing cars, like Andrew Burton's incredible Peugeot - Cosworth 306, a unique car that once seen is not forgotten.

So, Here's the result of Pritchard's Jim Clark Rally, and a preview of the next BTRDA event. Remember that if your club has any press releases about upcoming events, we'd love to feature them on the site. E-mail them to info@overdrive-uk.com




BAD LUCK STRIKES AGAIN AND ENDS RALLY EARLY FOR PRITCHARD

Slippery conditions and car trouble combined to end Jason Pritchard's weekend early in Scotland as he experienced even more bad luck in this season's British Rally Championship. After failing to finish the Jim Clark International Rally, which marked the halfway point of the season, Pritchard announced that he now won't be competing in the final three events of the Championship:
"It's a real shame because again, like previous rounds, I felt fantastic and after each stage we were improving and the confidence was there; in myself and the car. We had put ourselves in contention going into Saturday's stages so it was a real shame to find trouble during stage 10. I was really hoping for some luck this weekend but it wasn't to be, we've decided as a team to pull out of the British Rally Championship. It's disappointing because it's such a fantastic competition but we will now be heading abroad to compete; starting over in Belgium towards the end of June"
The move will allow Jason the opportunity to gain some valuable experience, and with only two finishes out of four this season, the young Welshman admits he's too far away from the leaders now to compete:
"I've felt on the pace all season but it just hasn't clicked in the last four-rounds; I think a change right now is the best option, it will offer me a fantastic chance to develop my career"
In a fantastically entertaining spectacle in the Scottish Borders, which was won by David Bogie on home soil, Pritchard was competing with new co-driver Dale Furniss and everything went according to plan during Friday evening, with the North Road Garage backed Subaru Impreza occupying 5th place:
"Dale was brilliant, considering this was his first International and first time making notes, he was very impressive. If I can take any positives from the weekend, it's the confidence and ability he showed throughout each stage in Scotland."
Pritchard can take plenty away from this season's British Rally Championship and without the early retirements it could have been so different; Jason has showed blistering pace throughout and a voyage abroad will only bolster Pritchard's progress.


PRETENDERS TO THE THRONE!…


The fifth round of the Silverstone Tyres BTRDA Rally Series, the Rainworth Skoda Dukeries Rally, sees the return of 2010 Gold Star Champions Steve Perez and Paul Spooner and, in deference to their Dukeries win last year, they will start with No.1 on the doors of their Ford Focus WRC. However, as they are not defending their crowns this time, the battle is on to succeed them to what, since its inception back in 1954, has become one of the most sought-after titles in UK rallying.

Not surprisingly, due to the popularity of the BTRDA Rally Series as a whole, the list of ‘possibles’ includes several names that already feature in the ‘Roll of Honour’ covering the past 58 years. As contenders make their way to Southwell Racecourse from all points north, south, east and west, Andy Burton/Robin Kellard have already made their intentions abundantly clear. Three outright wins, from four starts, have put Burton, who last won the Gold Star Championship in 2003, into the lead at the halfway stage from series newcomer Paul Bird who will be absent on this occasion. While the Cumbrian may well be back on these shores from a trip to Rally Barbados, his car most certainly won’t!..

Occupying 3rd place is 2008 Gold Star winner Hugh Hunter (Ford Focus WRC), the only other driver to win a round of the Championship outright – the Somerset Stages - so far this year. Now, on the one hand, the difference between Burton’s tally and that of Hunter is such that, if the former failed to finish the Dukeries and the latter won it, Burton would still head the table at the end of the day. But, and there’s always a ‘but’, Hunter and co-driver Andy Marchbank have already posted one retirement, giving them a score ‘in hand’ over Burton/Kellard which may become critical later in the season when dropped scores come into play.

Winners of the 2005 & 2009 Gold Star Championships respectively, Roger Chilman/Andrew Sankey (Subaru Impreza WRC) & David Wright with co-driver Michael Wilkinson (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9), are handily placed, while Charlie Payne/Craig Thorley (Ford Focus WRC) have fought back after a retirement on the opening round in the Forest of Dean . They were 2nd on last year’s Dukeries and, barring any dramas, will be there or thereabouts this time.

The Group N battle is really hotting up – the Mitsubishis of Jamie Anderson and James Grint are actually level on points with Tom Cave, who has used various cars for his campaign so far, one point adrift, even after a retirement on the Plains. The Dukeries presents each one with the opportunity to stamp their authority on the category – but which one?

When the BTRDA Rally Series ran to a different format, Warren Philliskirk won the 1997 Silver Star Championship in his MG Metro 6R4. Fourteen years later, he finds himself leading the series once again, but this time in his Ford Escort MkII. Four consistently good results see the Yorkshireman ahead of Boyd Kershaw in another Escort and Matt Beebe’s MG ZR. Three drivers have shared the maximum scores on the first four events of the season – Allan McDowall (Opel Kadett) took the honours on the Wyedean and Somerset, Dave Brick (Ford Escort) was victorious on the Malcolm Wilson and Will Onions (Ford Escort) claimed the points from Stuart Clarke’s RS2000 on the Plains.

Although Darren Pinchin/Karen Watts (Proton Satria) monopolised the Millers Oils 1400 Championship for the first three rounds, they were unable to shake off Clive Anstey/Tim Currie (Vauxhall Corsa) who were 2nd or, at worst, 3rd on the events in question. Then, having missed Somerset, Justin Lawson/Paul Hargreaves (Vauxhall Nova) returned on the Plains to break Pinchin’s run and demote him to second on the day. Although Anstey’s 3rd place keeps him in the hunt, the former champion’s advantage has been reduced, not by much but it’s still anyone’s title!

On the subject of monopolies, there are those who may well be thinking of referring Ash Slights/ Tom Hughes to the Commission when it comes to BTRDA Rally First wins! In the defence of their 2010 title, the pair remain unbeaten so far this season. Roy Gravestock/Tim Ball (Vauxhall Corsa) and Ian Arden’s Nissan Micra are clinging on to the teenagers’ Toyota Yaris but know they must keep up the pressure if they are to prevail.

Contenders for the Swisher MSA English Rally Championship have had the benefit of a two-month break since the Somerset Stages but now the competition recommences on the Dukeries with joint leaders Darren Pinchin and Ash Slights each aiming for a solo No.1 spot. Allan McDowall is 3rd in the class-based Championship but there are only nine points between 1st & 6th places. Twenty-five points for a win, four events still to run, and it’s amazing how quickly the look of the leaderboard can change!
The first car leaves the start of the Rainworth Skoda Dukeries Rally at Southwell Racecourse at 8.30am on Saturday 11th June and returns there at 4.00pm that afternoon.