Wheel drama halts Olly in Finland. Junior World Rally Championship competitor Olly Marshall made an encouraging debut on his first attempt at the highly specialist Neste Rally Finland, but luck was to desert the 23 year old from York as he...
Wheel drama halts Olly in Finland.
Junior World Rally Championship competitor Olly Marshall made an encouraging debut on his first attempt at the highly specialist Neste Rally Finland, but luck was to desert the 23 year old from York as he was to retire early on the second leg of the rally.
With super fast and highly technical stages to contend with, Marshall and Oswestry co-driver Craig Parry knew that they faced a stern test of their abilities as they arrived in the host town of Jyvaskyla in the ProSpeed Motorsport run Renault Clio S1600. Competition would once again be tough as a quality field of JWRC entrants made the journey north to warm and sunny Finland for three days of high speed action.
Despite the lack of familiarity with the roads, Marshall was pleased with his pre-event preparation and the Clio was in the best of health for the task ahead. Running on the control Pirelli tyres, Olly was delighted to make a solid start to the event, as he moved to a comfortable spot within the Top 15 of the JWRC field after first service. The Clio returned to service unmarked as Olly and Craig both found themselves enjoying the technical nature of the stages, mixed in with 6th gear sections along the way.
For the next loop of stages, Olly was keen to increase the pace, but soon hit a problem when the Clio landed hard over a jump, breaking a gearbox mounting in the process, which caused him to limp through the next two stages to service. The Clio's gearbox literally moving around in Marshall's hand as he changed gear.
Sterling work by the ProSpeed mechanics soon had the Clio back out on the stages and ready to go again. Although Marshall had lost a huge amount of time due to not being able to go over 100 kph on the stages before service, he was soon back up to speed on the next loop, as he forced his way into the Top 10 of stage times -- a spirited performance for the first time visitor to the notoriously specialist Finnish stages.
With all hope of scoring JWRC points gone after the problems of day one, Marshall turned his attention to setting good stage times for the second day of the rally. A strong start of the early morning loop of stages brought much encouragement to the crew and the team, but it was all to go wrong on the most demanding stage of the WRC -- Ouninpohja. The classic test was to be the downfall of Marshall as he clipped a bank on a right hand corner before gently rolling the Clio into the bank on the other side of the road. The impact damaged the rear beam, and despite receiving assistance from the spectators to get back on the road, Marshall and Parry were only to get another kilometre in the stage before a rear wheel parted company with the Clio, forcing them to bring their Finnish charge to an abrupt and unfortunate halt.
Marshall was upbeat about the whole rally experience:
"Normally I would be disappointed to retire in such a way, and of course, it is a shame to have been forced out by a mistake. However, both Craig and myself have learned a huge amount on this event, not only about the Neste Rally Finland, but about our pacenote system and also the set up of the car. It's been a massive learning curve from start to finish, and we've enjoyed every second on this rally. The car was working really well and the set up of the car was the best it has been all year. The most important thing is that we are continuing to get stronger as a team with each event and that is very pleasing for me. Next JWRC event is Wales Rally GB, so we'll have a good go there and give it our very best shot I think. We have nothing to lose."
Marshall's next outing is the ADAC Rally Deutschland, a round of the World Rally Championship. Olly will exchange his Renault Clio S1600 for a ProSpeed Motorsport run Skoda Octavia WRC Evo3 for the event. Based around the historic city of Trier, Marshall is using the event to gain experience of the Skoda and the event's stages in case the rally returns to the JWRC calendar for 2005.