Pritchard has winning start to his Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship title defence

Pritchard has winning start to his Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship title defence

15 Mar

By Tom Boote

Jason Pritchard had the best start to his title defence of the Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship by winning the Rallynuts Championship opening round of the 2019 season, The Tour of Epynt.

The erratic weather made driving conditions challenging to say the least, as heavy downpours of rain, combined with strong winds, sleet and hail meant tyre selection became an almost impossible challenge!

However, Pritchard in his North Road Garage Ford Focus WRC05 produced a brilliantly-controlled performance making the extremely difficult look effortless. Driving the Ford Focus WRC05 for the first time since October 2018, Pritchard and Co-Driver Phil Clarke could be excused for a little rustiness (by their own admission) in the opening stage but after taking the lead in SS2, the pair never looked back.

Although finishing a huge 2 minutes 13 seconds ahead of their nearest rivals, the gap did not accurately reflect their battle with Damian Cole and Co-Driver Shelley Rogerson. Poor tyre choices by the pair on the two longest stages proved to be the difference as Cole lost 14 seconds on SS4 in the wintry conditions. The gap eventually increased to 57 seconds before the final stage when Cole’s choice of ice tyres left his car with no grip at all –  yet finishing second with 28 points was still a great start to the six-time Asphalt Rally Champion’s campaign.

John Stone suffered an early misfire in the Fiesta WRC but new spark plugs and a replacement coil fixed the issue and allowed the 2014 Asphalt Rally Championship runner-up to press on. Co-driven by Jack Morton, the pair were keen to keep the Legend Fires-backed Ford in one piece ready for another rally in two weeks-time. They finished fourth overall behind Sebastian Ling/Aled Rees, who were not registered for the Asphalt Rally Championship so this provided Stone with third placed points, exactly what he was aiming for on a rare visit to Epynt.

2019 Rallynuts National Tour of Epynt
Top 10 protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship overall finishers
Position Drivers Car Time
1 Jason Pritchard/Phil Clarke Ford Fiesta WRC05 58mins 59secs
2 Damian Cole/Shelley Rogerson Ford Fiesta WRC05 1hr 01mins 12secs
3 John Stone/Jack Morton Ford Fiesta WRC 1hr 03mins 05secs
4 Alan Kirkaldy/Cameron Fair Ford Fiesta R5 1hr 03mins 19secs
5 David Hardie/John McCulloch Ford Fiesta R5 1hr 04mins12secs
6 Wayne Sisson/Max Freeman Mitsubishi Evo 10 1hr 04mins17secs
7 Oli Hopkins/Ian Taylor Mitsubishi Mirage 1hr 04mins 32secs
8 Richard Merriman/Kath Curzon Darrian T90 1hr 04mins 43secs
9 Graham Hollis/Ashley Trimble Ford Escort Mk2 1hr 05mins 06secs
10 Gary Le Coadou/Carl Sorensen Hyundai i20 WRC 1hr 05mins 09secs

2019 Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship
Overall driver points after Round 1
Postition Driver Points
1 Jason Pritchard 30pts
2 Damian Cole 28pts
3 John Stone 27pts
4 Alan Kirkaldy 26pts
5 David Hardie 25pts
6 Wayne Sisson 24pts
7 Oli Hopkins 23pts
8 Richard Merriman 22pts
9 Graham Hollis 21pts
10 Gary Le Coadou 20pts

 “We are delighted to have been able to play a part in securing the return and future of the Asphalt Rally Championship. For Protyre and all the tyre manufactures involved (Pirelli, Michelin and Hoosier Tires) it was fantastic to see how the Championship was received and how successful the 2018 season has been. We would like to thank Jane, the competitors and everyone else involved, and hope that we can assist in making the 2019 season even more successful.”

Shaun Chetwyn, Protyre Motorsport Manager

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So, what’s next?
Round 2 of the Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship is the Masterpixel Media Manx National Rally, 10th & 11th May.

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