MSA British Rally Championship
||Border Counties Rally
||17 - 18 Mar
||Pirelli International Rally
|| 29 - 30 Apr
||RSAC Scottish Rally
||19 - 20 May
||Kenotek Ypres Rally
|| 23 - 24 Jun
||Nicky Grist Stages
|| 9 - 9 Jul
|| Ulster Rally
|| 18 - 19 Aug
||Rally Isle of Man
||14 - 16 Sep
PRESS RELEASE: 18th March 2017
Ice cool Ahlin takes top spot on the
Ahlin and co-driver Torstein Eriksen won the Brick &
Steel Border Counties Rally, the curtain-raising round of
the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship this weekend
(17/18 March). The Swedish/Norwegian pairing came out on
top after nine hard-fought stages to open Britain’s
premier rallying series.
The 2017 Prestone MSA British Rally Championship has been
one of the most eagerly-anticipated seasons in recent memory,
with a star-studded entry list descending on the Scottish
border town of Jedburgh for the first round. Nine speed
tests and more than 55 slippery miles awaited for the 33
registered crews, all of whom were ready to fight for supremacy
on the gravel stages of southern Scotland.
On Friday evening, a large crowd gathered
for the Ceremonial Start in the heart of Jedburgh. To get
the proceedings underway, cars were waved off by double
British Touring Car Champion John Cleland, at the foot of
the dramatic 12thcentury Jedburgh Abbey. Rally goers were
treated to a feast of entertainment – with the Prestone
Rally Simulator testing spectators’ skills behind
the wheel – and to bring the evening to a close, a
spectacular firework display lit up the Jedburgh sky. BRC
crews then travelled to the forest to tackle two adrenaline-fuelled,
heart-pumping night stages. You can’t win the event
on the first night, but drivers were eager to throw down
their marker, as time was to be had for the brave.
Bravest on stage one were local stars David
Bogie and Kevin Rae in their Skoda Fabia R5, as the all-Scottish
crew took the spoils with a chasing pack in hot pursuit.
Tom Cave and James Morgan were the model of consistency
in their Ford Fiesta R5, notching up two second-fastest
times on Friday evening to grab a slender 2.8-second lead
at the overnight halt. Ahlin and Eriksen held third as they
got to grips with their new Fabia R5 in the darkness of
Craik. Triple BRC Champion Keith Cronin with Mikie Galvin
alongside stole the march on stage two to hold fourth overall
going into the second day.
Wet and slippery conditions in the forests
around Jedburgh played host to Saturday’s action,
with seven tricky stages waiting to catch out the unwary.
The lead of the rally changed hands no fewer than five times
throughout the event and out to grab it for good was Ahlin,
who woke up in determined mood. The Swedish sensation was
5.3 seconds clear on the first stage of the day to snatch
the advantage, before Cave wrestled it back on stage four.
Ahlin, however, was in emphatic form as he
subsequently tallied two further stage wins to reclaim the
overall lead. The Swede was flamboyant through the forestry
tracks and cool, calm and collected out of the car. Ahlin
last won a BRC round in May 2016, and hadn’t struck
gold since. A new year, new car, new co-driver and new approach
saw the driver from Karlstad come out fighting, taking the
top step by a healthy 38.6 seconds at the close of play.
Six different drivers clinched a fastest stage
time with Marty McCormack/David Moynihan in a Fabia R5 storming
to the top of the timesheets on stage five before retiring
a stage later after hitting a rock. That same rock claimed
many victims, including podium-hunter Bogie, who similarly
had to end his event early.
Cave was the only man left who could take
the fight to Ahlin. The Welshman struggled running first
on the road after the departed Bogie, as he cleared the
mud and stones for competitors behind. Giving it all he
could, Tom couldn’t catch Fredrik and maturely settled
for second place while also playing his ‘Joker’
to earn an additional four points – positioning him
perfectly for a 2017 title tilt. Cave will be swapping cars
ahead of the next round as he brings the Hyundai i20 R5
into the BRC.
With Bogie retiring, up stepped Cronin and
BRC returnee Osian Pryce, who had Dale Furniss calling the
notes, in the scrap for the final podium spot. Former BRC
rally-winner Pryce was straight back onto the pace on his
return, showing his rivals a clean pair of boots on stage
eight and enjoying an event-long duel with Cronin, with
the Welshman ultimately gaining the upper hand over the
Irishman. Cronin got his season off to a strong start, bagging
fourth for the M-Sport BRC team while fellow Fiesta R5 driver
Rhys Yates recorded his best BRC finish to-date, rounding
out the top five with co-driver Carl Williamson.
In the Prestone Motorsport News Junior British
Rally Championship, the action was fast and furious throughout
with the latest crop of young talent putting on a brilliant
display in their front-wheel drive machines.
The famous Solberg name immediately made an
impact in the BRC, as Oscar Solberg and Patrik Barth claimed
a hard-fought win on the Border Counties Rally in their
Ford Fiesta R2T. Son of Henning and nephew of Petter, Oscar
delivered a stellar run to take the championship lead as
well as clinching the honour for fastest two-wheel drive
car and a hard-earned outright BRC point.
Hot on the Scandinavian pairings’ heels
were a brace of Peugeot 208 R2s. Making his BRC comeback
was Irishman Dean Raftery and new co-driver Tom Woodburn.
Having not been in competitive BRC action for a few years,
Raftery quickly brushed off the cobwebs to settle into the
overall mix from the outset, netting second in the standings.
Surprising many was young William Creighton
in another Peugeot 208 R2. The Northern Irishman had only
entered a handful of gravel rallies before making his BRC
debut, and he put the cat well and truly amongst the pigeons.
With Liam Regan expertly guiding, the pair chalked up the
fastest time on the first stage to lead the rally before
being overhauled by the more experienced gravel drivers.
The newly-formed Cadet Cup is the perfect
springboard for competitors stepping up from clubman rallying
competition into the BRC. Leading from flag to champagne
were Josh Cornwell and Richard Bliss in their Ford Fiesta
R2. Despite suffering lampod issues on the opening stage,
the Surrey-based star took the first win of the season in
convincing style, eking out a 2m47s lead going into the
Ceremonial Finish in Jedburgh. Second home after a tough
two-day event was Fergus Barlow in a similar Fiesta R2 with
Max Freeman sitting alongside, while rounding out the Cadet
podium was the crew from Harper Adams University. James
McDiarmed, Max Haines-Messenger and the team only finished
the car the day before the event, having built their Ford
Fiesta National from scratch. They were delighted to round
out the top three.
In BRC4, World Mountain Bike Champion Gee
Atherton was experiencing the BRC for the first time. With
Keaton Williams alongside, the Red Bull athlete grabbed
the advantage from the off in his new Ford Fiesta R2T –
putting his mud and dirt experience into practice to take
the class win from David and Matthew White. The father and
son partnership overcame gearbox gremlins on the first night
to make it to the finish, gaining much needed mileage in
their new Ford Fiesta R2 before their trip to Corsica to
contest the French round of the FIA World Rally Championship
Donnie Macdonald got his first taste of R5
rallying machinery in the BRC, with the Scotsman picking
up from where he left off last season – top of the
timesheets in the National Rally Cup, with Andrew Falconer
calling the notes. Spencer Wilkinson and Glyn Thomas enjoyed
their BRC experience in the iconic Subaru Impreza, with
the duo claiming Production Cup victory at the end of the
demanding two-day test.
Top of Page