Osian Pryce started his Rally de Portugal weekend in perfect fashion as he topped the times in the opening Super Special stage at Lousada in front of a sell-out crowd.
While tomorrow marks the full day of action for Pryce and co-driver Dale Furniss, the pair have been in Portugal since the start of the week preparing for the task ahead of them.
“It’s great to get the event started,” said Osian. “And, while it’s nice to be fastest, the real action starts with the longer stages tomorrow. There were so many people out watching in the stage tonight, it was just amazing – a fantastic atmosphere. So, a great start, but the real business is still to come.”
Pryce’s last WRC outting saw the 22-year-old take on Wales Rally GB in the WRC2 category, outshining season regulars in the process.
“I’ve been ready for this moment for a long time now,” said Osian. “Now it’s just a case of settling everything down and getting on with what will be the longest rally I’ve ever competed on.”
Ahead of the rally Pryce and Furniss drove all of the stages twice in the pre-event recce and the pair head in to the rally in a confident mood.
“The recce went really well,” said Osian. “It was fantastic to get out there and take a look at some of these iconic stages. The surface of the road was really nice, but quite sandy in places. I think it’s probably going to get quite rough for us on the second run.
“There’s such a variety of roads on the route; some really quick, fast sections which are nice and wide and then you’re braking into some narrow, tight and technical sections where there are rocks at the side of the road just waiting to give you a puncture or rip a wheel off. Absolute concentration is so important on this one.”
“I’ve been competing in the British Rally Championship in recent seasons,” he said, “and we’ve finished second in the BRC twice and won a good few events, so the time had definitely come to make the step up to the Junior World Rally Championship. It’s unreal that the moment has arrived and we’re competing in round one!”