JRM secures first British Rally Championship victory Driving the JRM Evolution X to victory in this weekend's Pirelli International Rally, Gwyndaf Evans and co-driver Chris Patterson provided JRM with its very first British Rally Championship...
JRM secures first British Rally Championship victory
Driving the JRM Evolution X to victory in this weekend's Pirelli International Rally, Gwyndaf Evans and co-driver Chris Patterson provided JRM with its very first British Rally Championship win, a result the team has been aiming to achieve.
JRM team mates Daniel Sigurdarson and his sister and co-driver Asta Siguradardottir also had a successful event, bringing their Evo X home fourth overall and second in the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge, the one-make series for Group N Lancers which is supported by JRM.
Based at Carlisle Racecourse, the Pirelli International Rally - round two of the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship - featured 100 competitive miles in Kielder Forest, with three stages held in the dark on Friday evening and a further nine between 7.00am and 7.00 pm on Saturday. Adding to the challenge of the infamous Northumberland forest was the result of the recent dry spell, which meant that the dust generated by cars traversing the loose gravel roads was to cause visibility problems for the drivers.
Last year's winner of this event and current British Rally Champion Keith Cronin was the first to leave the start line, a factor that was to be a big advantage in the conditions, as following cars would have to contend with the dust hanging in the air. The first of Friday evening's stages saw Evans record the second fastest time, just 3.7 adrift of Cronin. But it was on SS2 that conditions worsened, Evans reporting that the visibility was so poor he had to stop on the straights.
As cars returned to Carlisle for the overnight halt, Evans found he was 24 seconds down on the leader, with Craig Breen in a Fiesta S2000 a further 18 seconds behind in third.
Without the need to use lights and with a breeze helping clear the dust clouds, conditions improved for Saturday's stages. Throughout the day Cronin, Evans and Breen posted a series of times that were only separated by a few seconds, which meant that the top three positions remained unchanged.
With stage nine cancelled because of local PR problems, time sheets showed that with the final loop of three stages to go, there was only 25 seconds between the leading trio. With his car running perfectly, Evans knew he could push for the lead, but he was well aware that one mistake in Kielder forest could mean anything from an off to a puncture.
As he lined up to start the last stage there was still 17 seconds between him and the leader, with Breen now closed to just four seconds behind. But, with the finish almost in his sights, Cronin collected a puncture, the disintegrating rubber damaging his Subaru's wiring loom and consequently stopping his car just 200 yards from the flying finish.
Breen also suffered a puncture in the final stage and, although making it to the finish, he lost nearly three minutes. The misfortunes of the others around him meant that Evans exited the 12th and final stage with a lead of two minutes 33 seconds, the outcome providing the Welshman with his first British Championship victory since 1998 and JRM its first outright BRC win - a result that had previously eluded the team.
Sigurdarson was also enjoying a trouble-free event and, although being slowed by the dust and catching other cars that were experiencing problems, he was delighted to end the event fourth overall, his best British Rally Championship result to date. Therefore, with its cars finishing in first and fourth places, JRM scored maximum points in the British Team's Championship and now lies joint-first in the standings.
In the Driver's Championship, the weekend's results see Sigurdarson move up to second and Evans in joint-fifth place.
"Winning a round of the British Rally Championship has never been easy and therefore I'm really pleased to have done it this weekend, not just for me but for the whole team. I know it means a lot to them as they have worked very hard to develop the Evo X to where it is now. It ran perfectly throughout the event so we have achieved what we set out to. Keith (Cronin) drove well again and proved he is a great competitor, but as we all know, bad luck can strike at any time in this sport."
John Barnes - JRM Operations Manager
"I am both delighted and relieved. We have been looking for this win for some time and it's great to finally get it under our belts. With just one stage to go I didn't think we were going to do it, but in rallying it's not over until it's over and we couldn't believe it when we heard Gwyndaf had come out on top. With the luck we've been having recently it's usually the other way round! This result is a real shot in the arm for the team and proves that the car can be both competitive and reliable."