Six time Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally champion Damian Cole gave his ex-works Škoda Fabia R5 an impressive debut at the weekend, finishing second overall on the Corinium Stages at Down Ampney in Gloucestershire – while Asphalt Rally Championship frontrunner Oli Hopkins finished third in his Mitsubishi Mirage.
Driving the Get Connected / TCL-backed Fabia in competition for the first time, Damian set the third fastest time on the opening stage and from then on got quicker and quicker as he acclimatised to the ex-Jan Kopecký machine. After a spin on SS6, he set equal fastest time on the penultimate stage and outright fastest time on the eighth and final stage.
Nearly 18 months since Oli last sat in his Mitsubishi Mirage, the Asphalt Championship Class B14 runner-up also enjoyed a good event. Co-driven by Ian Taylor, the Bristol driver suffered an off on the opening stage and a near miss on the final test, but finished a fine third, eight seconds behind Damian, in the R5-spec car.
Oli’s brother Philip was in second place going into the final stage, despite losing time early on when his Hopkins Motorsport Mitsubishi Evo VI’s engine kept cutting out. He and co-driver David Jenkins were on course for silver when the car’s water pump pulley failed and they were forced to stop, less than two miles from the finish.
The event was won by Will Nicholls/Nick Broom in a Ford Fiesta R5.
Action picture of Damian Cole (Škoda Fabia R5) courtesy of Russ Otway.