Jason Pritchard dominated Round 2 of the Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship by finishing the first day of the Masterpixel Media Manx National Rally a stunning 1 minute 42 seconds ahead of his nearest title challenger.
The North Road Garage Ford Focus WRC05 driver had a few scares, notably finding sheep on the road on the first loop and then the car cutting out on the second loop, possibly due to fuel surge. But it was another Manx masterclass by Pritchard and co-driver Phil Clarke, as they scored their second maximum points finish of the season.
In all the years of competing on the Isle of Man, the first loop of stages was only the second time that Jamie Jukes had come down the Baldwins without a problem – and he did it again on the second night time loop too! He and co-driver James Morgan were also pleased with the continued development of the Spencer Sport-tuned Mitsubishi Mirage, as they work on finding a highly competitive clubmans set-up for the car. It was a magnificently efficient performance, finishing second registered Asphalt Rally Championship crew.
Third was Alan Kirkaldy/Cameron Fair in their Cairnsmill Caravan Park Fiesta R5. Only the second of the four stages was wet, but they found that keeping wet tyres on for all four night stages played to their strengths, as they ended a fantastic opening day on the island.
Hugh Hunter/Rob Fagg picked up fourth placed points. When their ex-François Duval Focus WRC05 was going well, they were flying – but that was far from the case most of the time, as they had steering problems and an overshoot on the first loop, and more steering issues, a stall at a hairpin (costing over a minute), a long brake pedal, no working lamp pod and hitting a kerb hard on the second loop saw them finish over four minutes behind Pritchard.
Damian Cole had launch system issues with his Get Connected/Energizer-backed Ford Focus WRC05, which after a long delay getting away from SS2 saw him down in 16th place overall. A change of clutch at halfway service didn’t cure the problem, but he and co-driver Max Freeman pushed on and had climbed up to 7th overall by the end of the night – collecting points for fifth and keeping him second in the overall drivers’ points table, just seven points behind Pritchard.
Wayne Sisson/Neil Shanks completed the top six in their AMS Arnside Motorsport Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10. Two spins and an overshoot on the second loop cost them places and points, as they finished the day just 0.3 seconds behind Cole and 13 seconds behind Hunter.
Bob Fowden/Den Golding had intercom issues on the first loop, but a mysterious problem with their Subaru Impreza WRC S11 not warming up to full operating temperature and running significantly down on power was of bigger concern.
Oli Hopkins/Ian Taylor are still going strong with their Hopkins Motorsport-owned Mirage, despite hitting a bank on SS2 and landing the car on its nose on SS3. The fog on the second pass over The Cronk, as many found, wasn’t fun either.
John Stone was having a magnificent run in his ex-Mikko Hirvonen Fiesta WRC, despite hitting a sheep. He and co-driver Jack Morton didn’t reach the end of the day, however – their Legend Fires-backed machine parked up by Little London with reported turbo problems.
It was a turbo issue that also put John Indri/Mathew Smalley out of the event in their Mitsubishi Mirage, and they are unlikely to restart tomorrow.
Also unsure if they’ll be rallying tomorrow are Phil Turner/Ryan Griffiths. They were going well in their Toovey Race Engines/ST Motorsport-backed Escort Mk2, but hit some debris in the middle of the road on the final stage tonight, which has damaged the rear suspension and possibly the differential.
The Manx Auto Sport-organised event continues tomorrow, with Saturday’s eight stages making up Round 3 of the Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship.
Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship – provisional top 6 overall finishers after SS8 (full points awarded)
1. Jason Pritchard/Phil Clarke (Ford Focus WRC05)….57mins 11.6secs
2. Jamie Jukes/James Morgan (Mitsubishi Mirage)….+1min 42.0secs
3. Alan Kirkaldy/Cameron Fair (Ford Fiesta R5)….+3mins 49.2secs
4. Hugh Hunter/Rob Flagg (Ford Focus WRC05)….+4mins 17.7secs
5. Damian Cole/Max Freeman (Ford Focus WRC05)….+4mins 30.5secs
6. Wayne Sisson/Neil Shanks (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10)….4mins 30.8secs
2019 Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship
Provisional overall driver points after Round 2:
1. Jason Pritchard….60pts
2. Damian Cole….53pts
= Alan Kirkaldy….53pts
4. Wayne Sisson….48pts
5. David Hardie….44pts