Korhonen Wins Season Opening Pirelli RBF


Jukka Korhonen became the first Finnish driver to win a MSA British Rally Championship event for ten years after dominating the 2013 season-opening Pirelli Richard Burns Foundation Rally.

Korhonen and co-driver Marko Salminen led from start to finish in their Citroen DS3 R3T, taking the win by 42.5 seconds to become the first Finnish winners since current WRC star Jari-Marri Latvala won the Tempest Rally in 2003.

With the Rally North Wales being postponed last month due to adverse weather conditions, the Pirelli became the first event of the season, with the Carlisle-based event providing a stern test for the BRC runners

Korhonen stamped his authority on the event over the first loop of three stages in Kielder Forest, setting the fastest time on each to lead by 13.3s, before going on to extend his advantage to over a minute at the end of day one.

The early challenge came from Alastair Fisher and Gordon Noble in their DGM Sport-run DS3, with the Northern Irishmen staying within thirteen seconds of the leader after stage four, however a puncture on the next stage lost them a minute, dropping them to third at the end of the day one.

This put Fisher into the middle of a close battle that had developed for the final podium position. Top seeds Tom Cave and Ieuan Thomas initially put their Morris Lubricants DMS Citroen in third, before they were delayed by a trailing car from the preceding event on the opening loop of stages, the time lost dropping them to fifth.

John MacCrone and Osian Pryce got ahead in their DS3’s, but both then joined Fisher in suffering punctures on stage five, dropping to twelfth and nineteenth overall at the end of the day, promoting Cave up to second, nine seconds ahead of Fisher.

After taking two stage wins on the opening day, it was Fisher who looked most likely to be able to chase down Korhonen, if the Finn hit trouble on the final day.

Despite Fisher taking the first three stage wins on the day two, Korhonen had no problems and consistent top five stage finishes were enough to give him the event win, a perfect start to the season as he aims to become the first Finnish BRC champion since Marko Ipatti won the title in 1999.

Fisher’s stage wins meant he overhauled Cave to take second place overall, with the Welshman slotting into third. Jonny Greer took a well-deserved fourth, the BRC regular improving as the event went on.

Reigning Pirelli Star Driver Mark Donnelly held a top five place overnight, however the DGM Sport driver was forced to retire after a big jump damaged his car on stage eight. This gifted the final place in the top five to MacCrone, the Scot bouncing back from his first day puncture to finish with a flourish, the fastest time on the final stage grabbing him a top five place.

This meant it was a blanket of DS3’s across the top five, leading to Citroen picking up maximum points in the British Manufacturers Championship.

An excellent sixth overall was Steve Rokland in his Ford Fiesta R2, the superb drive giving the Norwegian victory in the new BRC RallyTwo category and Fiesta SportTrophy, and with it the first Pirelli Star Driver nomination of the season.

2013 Pirelli Richard Burns Rally Provisional Results:

Position Driver Co-Driver Car Total Time Diff. Leader

1

Jukka Korhonen

Marko Salminen

Citroen DS3 R3T

1:13.57.7

2

Alistair Fisher

Gordon Noble

Citroen DS3 R3

1:14:40.2

+ 00:42.5

3

Tom Cave

Ieuan Thomas

Citroen DS3 R3T

1:15:07.1

+ 01:09.4

4

Jonathan Greer

Kirsty Riddick

Citroen DS3 R3

1:16:51.6

+ 02:53.9

5

John MacCrone

Phil Pugh

Citroen DS3 R3

1:18:17.2

+ 04:19.5

6

Steve Rokland

James Aldridge

Ford Fiesta R2

1:18:39.1

+ 04:41.4