Fredrik Ahlin made it two wins from two events in the 2017 Prestone MSA British Rally Championship after winning the Pirelli International Rally ahead of Osian Pryce and Marty McCormack.
Ahlin, who took over the lead of the event on stage three after the retirement of Tom Cave looked set to comfortably take the win as the rally entered day two, but Pryce had other ideas.
The Welshman who lay second overnight, would take advantage of his tyre ‘joker’ – allowing him to use two more tyres than Ahlin this weekend and take 17.2 seconds out of the Swede’s lead as a result and the pair were separated by just 4.6 seconds with two stages left on Sunday morning.
However Ahlin responded, first increasing his lead by over 10 seconds on SS7 before Pryce was hit with a handbrake issue in his Ford Fiesta R5 meaning he was forced to settle for second in the overall standings.
Ahlin said on his victory and his battle with Pryce at the front of the field: “Today [Sunday] has been tough, this morning I made a silly, silly mistake at a chicane and I had to reverse two times. 10 seconds goes away quickly when you do that. Stage two was the same as yesterday, the combination of the car and my driving just didn’t work.”
“I regrouped at service and on SS7 we knew this was a good stage for us but also we were struggling with tyres. The tyres are fine but I was too hard on them. That made the balance worse. I feel very sorry for Osian [handbrake broke] I think we could have had a really good battle. We were close too yesterday. That’s rallying.”
While Pryce was understandably disappointed with how the event played out, he was still satisfied with taking second: “We did the last two stages with no handbrake. So we really struggled in the chicanes and lost a load. This morning we were happy with everything and the car was night and day better than it was yesterday. I’m just a little bit disappointed because we could have really pushed for that first place. That’s just how it is. There’s positives in the pace and this is good points for the championship. It looks like it will be a good battle between Fredrik and I. We’ll come back on the next one and try to be in contention again.”
David Bogie, who had brake issues throughout the first day of the event proved on day two that he could still be a force to be reckoned with this season and won all four of Sunday’s stages after fixing the problem overnight. The Scot would go on to finish a fine fourth overall in the Skoda Fabia R5.
Marty McCormack would benefit from issues to both Keith Cronin and Garry Pearson to move into third in the standings after SS5. Cronin in the M-Sport Fiesta rolled out of the event while Pearson was a victim of Kielder Forest’s unforgiving stages and would retire after getting stuck in a ditch.
Eyvind Brynildsen’s issues continued where they left off on Saturday and the Norwegian would again be forced to retire from the day’s action, this time because of brake issues.
Fifth overall went the way of Matt Edwards who was consistent throughout the weekend while Rhys Yates took sixth, Tom Preston took seventh in the BRC class with Jamie Anderson and Alex Laffey rounding out the R5 machinery to finish both days of the event.
The Prestone Motorsport News Junior BRC class saw another close battle for the victory with William Creighton taking the win just 0.4 seconds ahead of Callum Devine; Creighton taking the win on the final stage in the process.
Third in class was Merion Evans who had a spin on SS3 on day one costing the Peugeot 208 R2 driver precious seconds. However, a strong performance for the remainder of the event meant Evans could take the final spot on the podium.
Fourth went to Oscar Solberg, fifth went the way of Marty Gallagher while James Williams rounded out the top six in class.
Creighton was delighted with is victory. He said: “It’s been a long and tough rally and anyone of us could have won. If you would have said to me this would be the result at the start of the weekend I wouldn’t have believed you. Callum, Meirion, a lot of people have had problems. We’ve had a puncture and a slight overshoot and that’s it. Bar that we kept it nice and neat. Callum hasn’t done much gravel either, so for the two of us to be up there fighting for the win is brilliant. It shows what we can do. Looking forward to the Scottish now and getting the last gravel event out of the way before we switch to tar. It’s a long championship and it’ll be interesting to see how it develops.”
The sole entrant in the Production class, Spencer Wilkinson survived a scare with one of the rear wheels on his Subaru Impreza to finish the event in 26th overall, while Peter Stephenson dominated the Class 6 category and finished a superb seventh overall in the Ford Focus WRC.
In the BRC Cadet class, Josh Cornwell took the victory despite pressure from Fergus Barlow; Barlow ultamitly retiring from the event on Sunday morning while in the National Rally Cup, John Morrison defeated Max Utting to take top honours and finally in the Land Rover class, Ben de Ronde won the event ahead of Chris McCarthy and Alan Paramore.
The third round of the 2017 Prestone MSA British Rally Championship is the RSAC Scottish Rally between May 19-20