The JR Motorsports Rally Team came away from this weekend's Todds Leap Ulster Rally, round five of the MSA British Rally Championship, delighted with the performance of its two Evo Xs. On his debut with the team, Gwyndaf Evans showed that the JRM...
The JR Motorsports Rally Team came away from this weekend's Todds Leap Ulster Rally, round five of the MSA British Rally Championship, delighted with the performance of its two Evo Xs. On his debut with the team, Gwyndaf Evans showed that the JRM cars have the ability to challenge for British Rally Championship honours, by finishing a close second in Group N and leading the Production Class at the end of the first day.
David Bogie also set the records straight by recording his first BRC podium position on an asphalt event, when he secured third place in the closing stages of the rally.
Looking to boost the development of its Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Xs in rallying, JR Motorsports enlisted the services of Gwyndaf Evans, with local co-driver Chris Patterson, for the Northern Ireland event. After testing his brand-new car for the first time on Wednesday before the rally and making a number of changes to its set up, the experienced Welshman was eager to show just what the car was capable of in the heat of competition. Bogie also tested his car on the same day and, feeling confident, was looking forward to a better result this time around.
Based in Antrim, the Ulster Rally started on Friday afternoon with six stages before the overnight halt. A further eight stages followed on Saturday, the total of which provided a competitive distance of 127 miles over some of the most technically demanding roads encountered in the British Rally Championship season.
Evans surprised many by his speed in the new car when, right from the word go, he was on the pace of the two leading British Rally Championship front-runners: Keith Cronin and Mark Higgins, with only a few seconds separating them for the first loop of three stages. Then, after an excellent run through stages four and five and, with Cronin crashing out on stage six, Evans moved into the lead of the Group N field as cars returned to Antrim for the overnight halt.
Bogie and co-driver Kevin Rae opted for a cautious start, aiming to build confidence following the frustrations of the previous two rounds. However, a loose turbo pipe caused by a heavy landing after a jump on stage two and then time lost whilst securing it before the next stage, did little to help their progress. However, a faultless run over the second loop of Friday's stages saw them end the day in 10th place.
With drier and warmer conditions greeting crews on Saturday, grip levels on the Ulster asphalt increased. This also meant higher speeds and gave Evans a few moments of concern, when heat build up in the front disks caused the brake pedal to became soft. A swift change of pads at the first service halt of the day soon rectified the problem, although the momentary reduction in pace saw Higgins edge ahead. The rest of the day saw a neck-and-neck battle between the two former British Champions, with Evans and Higgins swapping fastest stage times by just a few seconds.
For Bogie, it was a case of getting on with the job and, with his car running well, he began to increase his pace. Even a couple of overshoots and a trip through a gate into a field didn't phase the young Scot and, whist others around him began to drop out due to accidents or mechanical problems, he continued to move up the BRC leader board.
Even as the rally entered its final stages, both JRM drivers maintained their pace and, as cars returned to Antrim for the final time, the time sheets revealed that Evans had posted six fastest Group N stage times to finish second in the class, just nine seconds behind Higgins. Following a determined drive during the afternoon, Bogie ended the event an impressive third in the British Rally Championship standings, the team delighted with the performance of its cars and crews in what was such a demanding event.
The JRM team now prepares for the sixth and final round of the British Rally Championship and a return to gravel forest roads, for the International Rally of Yorkshire, which takes place on 26th September.
"Considering the car was brand new and we didn't have much time to set it up, I was very impressed with how competitive it was straight out of the box. There is still some development to be done, which is a good thing really, as the car is on the pace already, so any improvements will mean that it should be the quickest out there."
"Knowing that this was always going to be a demanding event, I opted for a steady start to dial things in and then build up the speed as the rally went on. The car never missed a beat and I'm delighted we were able to finish in third place. To achieve my first BRC podium on tarmac was just the result I was looking for."
Chris Hodgson, JRM Technical Director
"We are extremely pleased with the outcome of the weekend and the reliability of our cars. We have proved that we can run at the front of the British Rally Championship field and I am confident that we are now not far away from recording our first outright win with the Evo X."