Magical Milner grabs a hat-trick in Scotland Reigning Kwik-Fit Pirelli British Rally Champion Jonny Milner was in fabulous form at this weekend's Scottish International Rally, as the Team Dynamics and Pirelli backed driver became the first...
Magical Milner grabs a hat-trick in Scotland
Reigning Kwik-Fit Pirelli British Rally Champion Jonny Milner was in fabulous form at this weekend's Scottish International Rally, as the Team Dynamics and Pirelli backed driver became the first driver in history to win the event three times in a row.
Driving a Morgan Motorsport leased Subaru Impreza WRC, Milner and Welsh co-driver Nicky Beech were keen to make their mark on the Dumfries based event. Recent victory on the International Rally of Wales had given the Yorkshireman from Huggate plenty of confidence ahead of the two day rally that used the forests of New Galloway in South West Scotland.
Just a handful of stages were on offer to the crews for the Friday night leg, and Milner was immediately into his stride on the fast stages held at dusk. Major title rival David Higgins had also started well and after a corrected first stage time, the Manxman was to take a slender 5.9 second lead over Jonny by the time that the cars reached the final service of the evening.
With only 10 stages on the whole event, Milner knew that the Saturday leg was make or break. The double Champion was relaxed and focused before the start of the days action, and Jonny was immediately on the pace. Higgins suffered a puncture, losing around twenty seconds in the process. Jonny also received a slow puncture -- but crucially the strong Pirelli tyre held together for Milner to keep charging right until the end of the stage. The tables had been overturned -- Jonny was leading.
Milner flew through the next batch of stages in the the striking red Impreza. Major commitment was required to keep the Impreza at the front of the field, and just routine service from the Jonny Milner Motorsport crew was required to keep Jonny and Nicky at the front of the field. A costly spin for Higgins on the longest stage of the rally was to prove decisive, as Milner struck with a hammer blow to take just over 10 seconds off the Manxman in the stage.
A 22.5 second lead was Jonny's reward with just three short stages remaining. Higgins took 5 seconds off Jonny on the shortest of the three, whilst Jonny countered on the penultimate stage to take 3 seconds back from David. A wonderfully controlled performance on the final stage saw Jonny give 9 seconds back to Higgins, but most importantly, Beech and Milner held a 9.3 second lead as they reached the final control of the event.
Milner was ecstatic with the win:
"We had to push so hard to get this win today. David was trying hard everywhere and we were mindful that a small mistake from us was going to be the difference between 1st and 2nd. We really pulled out all the stops on the mid section of the rally to take the initiative, and everyone in the team worked superbly well this weekend. The Subaru ran faultlessly on every stage and the whole team gave me so much confidence to go out there and win the event on the Saturday. It really is a fantastic achievement to be the first crew ever to win the Scottish Rally three times in a row -- and we all hope that is an omen as we try to make it three British Rally Championship titles in a row!
Of course now we switch to tarmac for the next three rounds of the Championship, and with the amount of development that the Subaru WRC's have had on bumpy tarmac lanes, we are very confident that we can score well on the tarmac rounds. The battle for the championship really begins here."
Milner and Beech return to Scotland in four weeks time for the Jim Clark Memorial Rally. The Kelso based rally offers the rare chance of closed public road tarmac rallying on the UK mainland, and both Milner and Beech are more than up for the challenge as they aim for another maximum haul of points to assist their third title dream.