Pirelli Carlisle RB Foundation Rally – 3rd May 2014…

Welsh duo Osian Pryce and Dale Furniss had a perfect start to their 2014 MSA British Rally Championship season after ten stages of the Pirelli Carlisle RB Foundation Rally, winning by 46 seconds and making it four BRC wins on the trot.

They continued their momentum from last season to dominate the event and lead the BRC’s new Gravel Cup and Citroën Racing Trophy, although Pirelli Star Driver Daniel McKenna kept them just in sight on his first gravel rally of his prize drive season, Arthur Kierans keeping him on the straight and narrow throughout.

Speaking before the Carlisle City centre finish Pryce said:

“Very happy, everything went to plan. We came here to win, but it’s my fifth time on the Pirelli and probably the first time I’ve had any luck on it, so it’s very long overdue. They were just great stages, probably the smoothest Pirelli Rally I’ve done and we quickly realised that at 90 per cent we could still beat Daniel (McKenna), so that’s what we did. We haven’t taken any risks at all.”

McKenna did manage to spoil Pryce’s potential perfect ten though, fastest on Saturday’s final stage, but even he admits it may have been as a result of the Welshman easing off a little. Nevertheless, the striking livery of the Pirelli-backed car was certainly impressive at speed and despite a final stage suspension problem, the Irishmen were happy with their performance.

Just reward for Callum Black’s fine performance was cruelly denied when he and James Morgan slid off on the final test, allowing David Carney and Ray Fitzpatrick to sneak onto the all-Citroën DS3 podium.

Making it two Irish crews for the top three, Carney was pleased to move up, but admitted that he felt sorry for Black, highlighting the camaraderie in the championship. He complimented the strength of the DS3, learning the car as the event progressed and benefitting from staying out trouble.

Timothy Cathcart and Dai Roberts seemed only to have bad luck and while they did finish sixth of the BRC runners, it could have been much better. Suffering a puncture early on, they changed it quickly, but caught a car when re-joining the track. Sporting a smashed windscreen at Saturday’s final service, it was clear that the car ahead had spat out a large rock which landed right in Cathcart’s eyeline.

Ireland was very well represented on both BRC1 and BRC2 podiums, Dean Raftery and Aileen Kelly taking top BRC RallyTwo and leading FordFiesta SportTrophy. But it wasn’t all plain sailing for the pair who also managed fourth overall on the event. A puncture, bent rear beam and stones in the rear brakes not enough to keep them from the Champagne though. Raftery’s haul of points didn’t stop there, top spot in the RAVENOL Oils Newcomers’ Trophy added to his accolades at the start of this six rally season.

Garry Pearson and Dave Robson had been the pace in the class, but an impact sheared the bolts on their power steering pump, subsequent belt failure leaving them with  aflat battery and out of the rally.

New to the BRC, Calvin Beattie hails from Northern Ireland and he put in a great performance to take second BRC2, Emmet Sherry guiding the 19 year old to an untroubled first finish in the championship.

The newcomers beat BRC Challenge graduate Aaron McClure and Elliott Edmondson in a similar Fiesta, although the Cumbrian will probably want to forget the rally. A broken clutch before the start was followed by a puncture per day, hampering the Next Big Step supported driver’s progress and leaving him third in the class.

BRC3 was entirely populated by newcomers to the championship and was won in some style by the BRC’s second youngest driver in its 58 year history. Gus Greensmith’s past karting expertise helped, but he and Carl Williamson had to gel as a team, something new for the youngster to absorb along with his first ever gravel rally. They didn’t have a completely trouble free day en route to taking top British Junior Rally Championship points though, limping back to the finish with a broken driveshaft.

Co-driver turned driver Kim Baker was over the moon with her second place in the class, splitting two Fiestas and taking first blood in the Twingo Renaultsport Trophy UK. After thirteen years in the co-driver’s seat, the transition to the hot seat was seamless, learning the car on Saturday and having some fun on Sunday’s four damp stages.

Rounding off the top three in BRC3 were Jonathan Jones and Jez Rogers, another crew with puncture and driveshaft problems and another learning not just the car, but making pacenotes and the whole BRC experience – job done.Osian Pryce and Dale Furniss had a perfect start to their 2014 MSA British Rally Championship season after ten stages of the Pirelli Carlisle RB Foundation Rally, winning by 46 seconds and making it four wins on the trot.