Jason Pritchard shines on a dramatic PokerStars opening night

Jason Pritchard scored maximum Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship points after winning the opening leg of the PokerStars Rally.

He and Phil Clarke completed the challenging night stages on the Isle of Man an incredible 2mins 51.7secs clear of the rest of the field in their North Road Garage Ford Focus WRC05.

Despite what he described as an untidy start, Jason got through the Friday night tests unscathed – which was more than could be said for several of his rivals.

First to hit problems were Melvyn Evans/Mark Glennerster. Leading the Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship coming into Round 3, they locked up approaching a tight corner three quarters of the way through the opening stage and hit a bridge, breaking a wheel on their Škoda Fabia R5+. They sportingly parked the car in a safe place and waited until all the faster cars had gone passed before limping out of the stage and into retirement.

Damian Cole/Andrew Roughead locked up in their Get Connected/TCL Škoda Fabia R5+ on the very next stage and hit a bank head-on. The heavy impact threw the back of the car across the narrow road and wedged it solidly between the two banks, leaving a quick-reacting Damian to sprint back up the road to warn the oncoming cars of the blockage. With damage to the front and rear of the car, their rally was over too.

There was more drama on SS3 when Craig Jones/Shaun Layland went off in their RHL Motors Mitsubishi Evo 9, while Mark Kelly/Neil Colman just about completed the opening loop of three stages despite losing the brakes on their Flext-backed Ford Fiesta R5+ and overshooting a junction.

David Campling/James Ducker didn’t even make the start after a frightening accident on shakedown which saw their DCC Logistics Škoda Fabia R5 somersault into a field after locking up and sliding sideways into a bank at high speed.

Leg 2 of the PokerStars Rally (Saturday 2 October) hosts Round 4 of the 2021 Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship, with seven daylight stages totalling 68.62 stage miles before the finish at the TT Grandstand at 14.50.

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