Wozie Ignites on the Wyedean
Shropshire rally star James Wozencroft only entered this weekend's Wyedean Rally for testing purposes, but the 21 year old from Ludlow walked away with first in the Silkolene 1400 BTRDA Class honours on the Chepstow based event.
Driving the Dealer Team Thompson backed Suzuki Ignis 1400 for the very first time, Wozencroft and new co-driver Robert Fagg arrived at the Forest of Dean based rally keen to learn all about their new machine. The James and Jenkins Suzuki of Chepstow supported car having been acquired for James and Manxman Robert's first crack at the inaugural British Rally Championship 'Stars of the Future' category in 2005.
Wozencroft started steadily in the striking yellow machine, and was suffering from a lack of confidence under braking in the Ignis over the first couple of stages. The brake bias on the car was set too far to the rear of the car for James's liking, and once rectified at first service, 'Wozie' was able to push the car much harder as his confidence with the new car began to grow.
With Manx Autosport Co-driver of the Year winner Fagg also settling in well to the new team, James increased his pace significantly as the day progressed. Just as things looked to be going better, a puncture one mile into the fast and flowing Mailscot special stage meant that the pair lost around 25 seconds to flying Welshman Nathan Davies in the process. Early pace setters Steve Loveridge and Neil Weaver had both now retired from the rally, so it was left to the Suzuki debutant and the Vauxhall Nova of Davies to battle it out for victory over the final loop of stages.
Try as he might, Davies was unable to match the pace of Wozencroft over those final few miles. Just five seconds separated the pair going into the final stage, but a spirited effort from the Ignis crew netted a further four second advantage over Davies, and a nine second victory had been secured in the process. Despite not securing a single fastest time over the day, James was nonetheless pleased with the win and a successful debut for driver, co-driver, and team:
'I must admit I hadn't expected to be on the pace today' reflected James. 'It was the first time for me in the car, the first time together with Rob, and of course, the first time for the team to have all worked together. With that in mind, I've got to say I'm delighted with the way things went. We started off very steadily, and I found it a little difficult to get used to the braking with the car. With that working the way I wanted it, we were able to push a lot harder, and in the afternoon, we were never more than a couple of seconds off fastest times on the stages. I can only take positives away from this weekend - the car is a real credit to Suzuki and words fantastically well, whilst I'm also really pleased with Rob's contribution as well - as we both got on very well. Hopefully its a good omen for the remainder of the year.'
Wozencroft now leads the way in the Silkolene BTRDA National 1400 series and will be contesting the next round of the championship, the Malcolm Wilson Rally in Cumbria next month. April will see the Wozencroft and Fagg begin their assault on the new British Rally Championship Stars of the Future series, which gets underway on the Rally of Wales, based in Dolgellau.