Second and fifth for JRM in British Rally Championship opener
JRM got its 2010 Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship campaign off to a flying start this weekend in round one, the Dorset-based Rallye Sunseeker. Driving the team's two Group N Mitsubishi Evolution Xs, Tom Cave finished an impressive second and Daniel Barry crossed the line a credible fifth.
The rally began on Friday evening with a ceremonial start on Poole Quay in front of 1000s of spectators. Thankfully, the rain held off as the rally cars were paraded alongside the Sunseeker Powerboats moored in the harbour, but the conditions changed overnight, resulting in areas of standing water on the first of Saturday's 11 stages in the Ringwood and Wareham forests.
After a good result on the Wyedean Rally two weeks beforehand, Cave - together with co-driver Craig Parry - was on the pace from the word go, setting the second fastest time on SS1, just 2.3 seconds behind Scottish Rally Champion David Bogie. Barry and his co-driver Rory Kennedy also started well, a further three seconds down and in seventh place. But, with this being Barry's first ever event in the JRM car, he admitted that he was still getting used to its handling characteristics.
A storming run by both JRM crews through SS2 saw Cave take the lead of the rally by 2.6 seconds, with Barry moving up to fourth. However, Bogie fought back during stages three and four and reclaimed the top-spot from Cave - albeit by just 2.9 seconds - before crews stopped for the first service halt.
The next loop of stages took competitors west and into the Wareham Forest complex, where the nature of the roads changed again, competitors commenting that the ruts and puddles were making it hard to find a rhythm. One such driver was Jason Pritchard, who's Subaru slid off the road and into a ditch at the end of SS6. Cave was next through the stage and, with spectators on the track slowing him down as he approached the scene, the incident caused him to lose around ten seconds whilst he took evasive action.
Barry found the slippery conditions even less to his liking, as he was still trying to get used to his new Evo X and was pleased to get through the Wareham stages unscathed. Therefore, when cars arrived for the second service halt after SS7, Cave was 12.2 seconds behind Bogie, with Barry fifth, a further 36 seconds adrift.
Cave embarked on the event's remaining four stages with the aim of putting pressure on Bogie and, although taking the fastest time on SS8, the Scot ahead of him remained un-phased. Therefore, the leading positions were maintained to the finish, with Bogie first, Cave second and Elfyn Evans, in a Subaru, third.
Still not completely comfortable in the car, Barry opted for a measured approach to the final loop of stages and, in doing so, consolidated his fifth place. The JRM team was delighted that its cars ran perfectly throughout the event, with both finishing in the top five.
Tom Cave "It's new car and a new rally, so I am delighted with second place and having been able to set the fastest time on three of the eleven stages. I pushed hard in the final loop, but not too hard, as I didn't want to spoil a good result. The JRM car felt very good and everything worked well, so it's a great start to the season. The next round, the Bulldog Rally of North Wales, is my home event, so I hope to keep the momentum going."
Daniel Barry "As this was my very first event in the JRM car I'm pleased with fifth place, but I know there is great potential for an even better result. The Evo X has loads of power and the braking is fantastic, so I'm sure that once I get more used to it and I can get the set-up right for me, I will be on the pace of the front runners. I've really enjoyed this event. The team have been great and done as much as they can to make me feel at home, so I'm hoping that I can continue with them for the rest of the season."
John Barnes (Team Manager) "I'm very happy with the way things went this weekend. To have two cars in the top five and get through the whole event with no problems is an excellent start to the season. I'm pleased with the way the team worked together and I must congratulate both drivers for doing such a good job for us. I therefore hope we can achieve an even better result in the next round of the British Championship."
-source: jrm group