Melvyn Evans will arrive at this weekend’s PokerStars Rally leading the Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship having scored maximum points on the opening two rounds of the series, the Old Forge Garage Mewla Rally and the Hills Ford Three Shires Stages Rally.
Although Melvyn has a lot of experience rallying on the Isle of Man, this will be the first time that he has contested the PokerStars Rally – and he’s not going to the double-header round of the series to finish second either!
The famous Manx stages have witnessed great highs for Melvyn.
“I did my first rally on the Isle of Man in 2000 and returned there in 2002 and won the Manx National,” recalls Melvyn.
“John Price said to me that I was very lucky to win on only my second appearance because drivers had been coming for years and never won it. It was extra special because it came the weekend after I’d won the West Cork, so it was big back-to-back wins.”
However, the Manx stages have a habit of dishing out more than their fair share of anguish too.
“We’d won the Manx National Rally in 2002, 2008, 2011 and 2012 – and in 2013 it looked like I was going to become the first driver to win the event five times and the first to win it three times in a row.
“Then the input shaft on the Subaru [Impreza S12B WRC] broke on the Braaid stage, three stages from the end. It was the most disappointing moment of my career.”
Melvyn returned and was leading the Manx National in 2015 when the ECU packed in.
“After that I said that I wasn’t coming here again!”
But leading the Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship has convinced him otherwise, and this weekend will be Melvyn’s first event on the Isle of Man for six years.
Partnered by Mark Glennerster, Melvyn will drive his family owned and run Škoda Fabia R5+. He knows the competition will be tough, not just from five times event winner and double Protyre Asphalt champion Jason Pritchard, but from others too.
“To be fair to Jason [Pritchard] he goes well on the Isle of Man and he’ll be hard to beat. I’m not going there to finish second, but if he beats me I’ll shake his hand. Mind you, Mark Kelly is going very well this year and will be hard to beat as well.”
Full Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship points will be awarded at the end of day one (Round 3, Friday 1 October) and at the end of day two (Round 4, Saturday 2 October).