Another top performance by Evans and JRM Driving the JRM Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, Gwyndaf Evans, together with co-driver Gareth Roberts, battled through the difficult conditions on this year's International Rally Isle of Man to finish...
Another top performance by Evans and JRM
Driving the JRM Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, Gwyndaf Evans, together with co-driver Gareth Roberts, battled through the difficult conditions on this year's International Rally Isle of Man to finish second in round four of the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship. The result sees JRM continue to top the table for the British Team's Championship and Evans consolidate his second place in the driver's standings.
Always a challenging event, this year's visit to the Isle of Man was no exception, with crews not only having to deal with the demanding asphalt roads which criss-cross the length and breadth of the island, but the ever-changing weather conditions. And whilst most of the UK was experiencing a heat-wave, the same could not be said for the island in the Irish Sea, with wind, rain and fog making an appearance at various stages during the rally - a scenario that made tyre choice a key feature throughout the event.
After the well-attended ceremonial start overlooking Douglas Harbour on Thursday evening, the action got underway on Friday morning from the TT Grandstand, with a loop of three stages before the first service halt of the day. After a trouble-free run, Evans reported he was happy with the car - a factor that was endorsed by a healthy 16-second lead.
During the next loop of three stages the weather began to change and, as the mist and rain set in over the hills, the roads became more and more slippery. Not happy with the way his car felt as he embarked on SS6, a section of shiny tar saw the grip levels reduce even more and, near the end of the stage, the car suddenly snapped sideways, spun and dropped into a ditch. After a bit of coaxing, Evans and Roberts managed to extract their Mitsubishi and get going again but, as they were facing the wrong way, lost more time trying to find space to turn round.
Back at service inspection revealed that, as well as light body damage, the rear suspension needed attention having been damaged in the impact. However, the more significant damage - caused by the un-planned excursion - was the loss of two minutes, a delay which undid the good work already done by Evans and Roberts and plummeted them to seventh place - Keith Cronin/Barry McNulty consequently inheriting the lead.
Evans then began his fight back and at the end of SS10 was up to second place, albeit now one-minute 47 seconds behind Cronin. Although managing to improve the margin by three seconds by the time they reached the overnight halt, Evans and the JRM team knew it would be tough to regain the lead during Sunday's eight stages - but on the Isle of Man anything can happen.
With this in mind, the team told Evans to push in the hope that he would start to close the gap on Cronin and would be ready to pounce if the reigning British Rally Champion hit problems. But, with monsoon-like conditions arriving on the island during the morning, the opportunity to attack and still stay on the road was reduced - as Evans found out when he aquaplaned through a gateway and into a farmyard on SS18.
Even after setting a time 23 seconds quicker than anyone else over the final stage, a 13.27-mile run which included a combination of the classic Manx stages of Druidale, Injebreck and The Baldwins, before a heading into Douglas for the flying finish right outside the TT Grandstand, Evans still had to settle for second. However, the result consolidated his second place in the Driver's Championship and allowed JRM to retain its leading position in the Team's Championship - even though team-mates Daniel Sigurdarson/Asta Sigurdardottir retired in the closing stages due to an electrical problem.
The next event for the JRM team will be round five of the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship, the International Rally Northern Ireland, which takes place on 20 & 21 August.
"Of course we would have liked to have won, but second is still a big result - especially when you consider the conditions. Although we were unlucky to have spun into the ditch, we were also lucky to be able to keep going. It was a great shame, as I think it would have been a good battle for first place. I must thank the JRM team for providing me with an excellent car and for fixing the rear suspension during the service halt. It kept me in the rally."
John Barnes - Team Manager
"This has been a very positive weekend for us. Yes, of course we wanted to win, but we were fastest on 11 of the 23 stages and on the Isle of Man in the constantly changing conditions, that's a good performance in anyone's book. It also keeps us well in the hunt for the championship."
James Rumsey, Team Principal
"I am pleased we were able to achieve another good result and our car was 100% reliable - especially on the Isle of Man. Second gives us another good points score and helps us towards our target of winning the British Team's and Driver's titles."
-source: jrm group