Jason Pritchard: ‘calendar of events attracted me to the 2018 Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally Championship’

Having won the MSA British Historic Rally Championship for a record-breaking third time in a row last year, Jason Pritchard will return to more modern machinery this year for an all-out assault on the Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally Championship.

In addition to successfully rallying an Escort RS1800 Mk2 for the last three years, for the last five years the talented 29-year old driver from Builth Wells has also contested the Manx National Rally in a Ford Focus RS WRC05. Despite it being an annual one-off appearance in the car, Jason has a magnificent record – winning the event three times (2014, ’15 and ’16), finishing second in 2013 (after stalling on the start line of SS1, dropping 15 seconds and missing out on winning by just 3.7 seconds) and finishing third in 2017 – and never failing to finish outside the top three.

Co-driven by Phil Clarke, Jason will drive his North Road Garage-supported Focus WRC05 on this year’s Manx National, but has yet to decide which car he’ll use on the opening round of the Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally Championship, the Melvyn Evans Motorsport Tour of Epynt (11 March). Despite living close to Epynt, he has only contested eight rallies over the ranges in 12 years – winning the Harry Flatters Historic Rally in 2017 and 2015 and debuting a Fiesta S2000 on the Mini Epynt last year. 

Jason said: “Having won the British Historic Rally Championship three times in a row, we were looking for something different to do in 2018. We wanted to do the Tour of Epynt because it’s on our doorstep, we definitely wanted to do the Manx National again and we fancied doing a rally in Belgium and Ireland – so when the Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally Championship calendar was announced it really appealed to us, as it contained all of the events we were looking at for 2018.

“We haven’t decided what car to do the Tour of Epynt in. I’ve done Epynt the last few years in an Escort Mk2, but it’s a completely different place in a World Rally Car and I haven’t got a lot of experience with the Focus WRC. We have a Fiesta S2000 that might be ideal, but there again if the weather’s bad we’d probably be just as quick in the Mk2 Escort RS1800! The only thing we’re sure about is that we’ll do the Manx National in the Focus WRC and try to continue our good run on that event.

“I’m also looking forward to returning to Belgium. I did my first ever European rally in Flanders in 2009 [Omloop van Vlaanderseren] and was battling for the lead of the Citroën Cup with Thierry Neuville until we both retired. The last rally I did in Belgium was in 2011, when I broke my wrist and collarbone after hitting some oil and going off into a ditch on the Ypres Rally. I have really enjoyed rallying in Belgium, but I’m hoping it will be third time lucky over there when we contest Rally van Wervik in June.

“The main goal this year is to go out and enjoy ourselves. That’s what we’ve done the last three years in the Historic Rally Championship and it’s brought us a lot of success, so we’ll take that attitude into the Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally Championship and see what happens.”

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