Jason Pritchard will contest this Sunday’s Hills Ford Three Shires Stages Rally in his North Road Garage Ford Fiesta S2000. It is the first time that the double Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally champion has driven the car in competition for over two years.
Jason got his 2021 campaign off to a flying start on last weekend’s The Old Forge Garage Mewla Rally, finishing second in his Focus WRC05.
For Round 2, Jason has decided to wheel out his Fiesta S2000 for the first time since the 2019 Rally van Wervik. He and co-driver Phil Clarke were the top Protyre Asphalt crew in Belgium after the first loop of stages, highlighting what a quick – not to mention great sounding – car it is on narrow single track lanes.
“I love driving the S2000. It’s been sitting in the workshop gathering dust for so long that I thought it’s about time I used it again,” says Jason.
“It’s still in its original FIA S2000 spec, so we won’t be able to keep up with the more modern and powerful R5 plus cars. I’m not going to get flustered when I see the stage times – that’s not the point of this weekend. I want to go and enjoy driving the S2000 down the lanes. It certainly makes all the right noises and I’m sure it will put a smile on my face, as well as those of the spectators.”
It will be Melvyn Evans/Mark Glennerster who start this Sunday’s event as Protyre Asphalt Rally Championship leaders, after a stunning win on Epynt in their Škoda Fabia R5+.
Meanwhile Damian Cole/Dale Bowen will be looking for a confidence boosting run in their Get Connected/TCL-backed Fabia R5+. The six-time Asphalt champion wasn’t happy with the handling of the car on the ultra-fast military range roads, yet still got his Championship campaign off to a good start with third.
After a fantastic run on Epynt, Mark Kelly/Neil Colman head to the lanes in their Flext-backed Ford Fiesta R5+. They’ll be chased hard by the likes of class B13 leaders Darren Atkinson/Philip Sandham in their Atkinsons Sandblasting/S&W Fabrication-backed Escort Mk2, John Stone (partnered this time by Rhys Stoneman) in his Legend Fires-backed Ford Fiesta WRC and class B14 leaders Craig Jones/Shaun Layland in their RHL Mitsubishi Evo 9 – all of whom had good runs on the Mewla Rally.
One of the few Protyre Asphalt drivers with previous Three Shires experience is Oliver Hopkins, who finished seventh in 2019. Co-driven by Ian Taylor, he should go well again in his Hopkins Race Transporters-backed Mitsubishi Mirage R5+.
Lee Edwards leads the index of performance based Ford Escort Challenge in his self-built rear-wheel drive Ford Escort G3. He’ll no doubt put his road rally experience to good use on the lanes of Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire, and will this time have Robbie Pugh co-driving for him.
Mike Simpson leads the Historic class in his 2-litre Pinto-engined 1975 Ford Escort Mk1. The former HRCR Historic Masters champion is reunited with his regular co-driver Dale Gibbons for his local event – having finished 12th overall on the Three Shire two years ago.
Protyre Motorsport will take a large range of tyres to the Three Shires, including Pirelli, Michelin and Hoosier, and operate an on-event fitting service for all registered Championship contenders.
Special Stage TV will live stream action footage on its Facebook page, with Howard Davies spearheading the commentary team. It will also interview crews during the day, all of which can be seen on its edited highlights programmes.
The Hills Ford Three Shires Stages Rally has a ceremonial start in Ledbury town centre on the evening of Saturday 4 September, where 140 cars are expected to cross the start ramp. Competition takes place on Sunday 5 September, with 66 stage miles spread over 14 stages. There are five different stages in total, with four tackled three times and the longest, the 6.03 mile Wellington Health test, attempted twice. Rally HQ and the Service Park will be based at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern, while the first car is expected to finish the event there at just after 17.00.
Spectators are allowed and further information is available at www.threeshiresstages.co.uk/spectators.
2021 Hills Ford Three Shires Stages Rally – top 10 seeded starters
1. Martyn England/Dawn England….Mitsubishi Evo X
2. Melvyn Evans/Mark Glennerster….Škoda Fabia R5+
3. Meirion Evans/Jonathan Jones….Volkswagen Polo GTI R5
4. Jason Pritchard/Phil Clarke….Ford Focus WRC05
5. Robert Swann/Darren Garrod….Škoda Fabia R5
6. Damian Cole/Dale Bowen….Škoda Fabia R5+
7. Stephen Simpson/Patrick Walsh….Ford Fiesta R5+
8. Ollie Mellors/Max Freeman….Proton Iriz R5
9. Mark Kelly/Neil Colman….Ford Fiesta R5+
10. Robert Hughes/Sion Cunniff….Škoda Fabia R5