Jones impresses on Super 2000 debut.
Welshman Stuart Jones impressed on his debut in the exciting new MSD built MG Super 2000 Sport when he set a string of highly impressive times on the final round of the 2007 Production World Rally Championship, Wales Rally GB over the weekend.
22 year old Stuart, the only welsh driver contesting the PWRC in 2007, only had limited testing in the brand new car prior to the event. However the former Peugeot Super cup champion was not concerned and his strategy showed a mature head on young shoulders. A cautious approach to the opening day of competition, run in the hills above Swansea, saw Stuart, co-driven by Andy Bull, face some of the most atrocious weather conditions experienced in many years. A puncture in the third stage cost the pair valuable time but they returned to service in 12th position. Feeling comfortable with the car and the conditions Stuart opted to increase his pace in the afternoon, taking his first top 10 time of the rally on the second run through Resolfen. The final stage of the day, Rheola 2, was run completely in the dark and with most of the crews experiencing heavy fog this was truly a test of driver, co-driver and machine against the elements. And young Stuart excelled, posting not only the second fastest Production class time but also going an incredible 8th fastest overall, beating a number of World Rally Cars!
Day 2 saw the crews tackle another 6 stages and with his confidence building by the stage Stuart was beginning to set some impressive top 10 times. Despite loosing his power steering halfway through the last test of the morning Stuart was now inside the points. A top 3 time through Crychan in the afternoon showed how fast he was adjusting to the new breed of car and was not only outpacing the other Super 2000 spec cars on the event but was also impressively climbing up the leaderboard.
However, once again Lady Luck dealt a cruel hand. After loosing his power steering in the last stage of the day Stuart drifted a little bit wide on a fast bend and was unable to turn back on to the road, sliding off and ending his strong run.
I'm disappointed that our rally ended this way but I can't help but draw so many positives from the weekend. The MG Super 2000 Sport is the best handling car I have ever driven. Hopefully we have shown that it has potential and I'm certain that the MG can be comfortably competitive with Group N cars.
MSD team principal David Whitehead was philosophical about the weekend. Stuart did a great job and his feedback was really helpful. His two top 3 times certainly gave us something to cheer about. The power steering problem will be easy to cure. It's inevitable for a brand new car to have teething problems but we've shown it can run at the front.
Stuart, who is backed by Silverstone, PIAA, Teng Tools, Sparco, Custom Cages, Delivered on Time, Drive Me, R and D, Dacha Oak Floors and Rallytech, is currently examining a variety of possibilities for 2008 and an announcement will be made soon.