Pirelli podium for frustrated Pryce
Welshman Osian Pryce finished runner-up on this weekend’s Pirelli International Rally, a result which leaves him a strong second in the British Rally Championship standings.
The 24-year-old from Machynlleth is in his first full season of four-wheel drive rallying and continues to impress with the speed at which he’s leveling such a steep learning curve.
Osian arrived at the start on the back of a dominant win on his home event, Rally North Wales and he had high hopes of repeating that success in the Kielder complex. And he came close, but ultimately there was frustration for the Welshman.
Driving his usual Alphera/Hills Ford Fiesta R5, Osian and co-driver Dale Furniss had closed the gap to leader Fredrik Ahlin (Skoda Fabia R5, Sweden) to just 4.6 seconds with two stages remaining. Unfortunately for the Welshmen, that was as close as they would get.
A handbrake issue on the next two stages cost valuable time and ensured it would be the second step of the podium for them.
“We’ve taken good points and we’ve learned more about the car this weekend,” said Osian, “and those are both really good things, but I’ve got to admit I was a bit frustrated when we were driving south back home. We’d gone really well to reel Fredrik in and just at the point where we could really strike, the handbrake stopped working.”
The loss of a handbrake wouldn’t normally be a problem in the super-fast Kielder stages, but the organisers had put chicanes into the stages to slow the cars down and it was in those tight turns that the time – and a possible first BRC win of the season – was lost.
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“The chicanes were quite tight,” said Osian, “and we were having to shunt forwards and backwards to get through them. Once you start doing that, once you start having to use reverse gear, you’re shipping a lot of time and really losing out. I felt we had the speed to win this one, but we didn’t and we move on to the next round in Scotland.”
One of the highlights of the rally was the feeling Osian had for the Spencer Sport-run Fiesta R5 on Sunday’s second day.
“We hit a small bump on the second stage of the rally,” said Osian, “and this damaged the steering slightly. I was having to work the steering harder to get the car into the corners, which wasn’t ideal. At the end of the day, the guys changed the steering rack and that, combined with some geometry changes, really helped the car.
“From the first couple of corners on Sunday, I felt the car was different and really working – it was fantastic. I was comfortable in the Fiesta and I’m now really starting to feel like we’re working very well together. This is good for the future.
“One thing is sure looking forward, this is going to be a big fight for the British Rally Championship title this season. The roads in Kielder are always quite hard on the car, but there weren’t too many serious issues for anybody, so the cars are looking reliable and quick this year. Scotland’s the next round and there are a good few potential winners – let’s just hope it’s our turn when we get up north for the third and final time this season.”
Pirelli International Rally
BRC position: 2nd
Service H&H Carlisle
Total distance 269 miles
Competitive distance: 100 miles
SS1: 3rd fastest (3rd overall)
SS2: 3rd fastest (3rd overall)
SS3: 3rd fastest (2nd overall)
SS4: 3rd fastest (2nd overall)
SS5: 2nd fastest (2nd overall)
SS6: 2nd fastest (2nd overall)
SS7: 3rd fastest (2nd overall)
SS8: 6th fastest (2nd overall)
Today: sunny/overcast, 7-16 degrees
BRC round 3/7
RSAC Scottish Rally
Slightly earlier date than usual might keep the midges away, but the challenge of classics such as Castle O’er and Twiglees will remain.