Pryce back in business with Severn Valley Stages victory

Osian Pryce put himself back into contention for a second Probite British Rally Championship title after a sensational win at the second round of the season, the Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages [13 April].

Pryce would give co-driver and best friend Rhodri Evans his very first overall rally win with a storming drive in his Michelin-shod Ford Fiesta Rally2, overhauling early rally leader Chris Ingram to take victory by 20 seconds from William Creighton’s similar machine. Ingram rounded out the podium in his Volkswagen Polo GTi, blowing the title race wide open with two different victors in as many rounds.

Once again, the BRC attracted a star-studded and sell-out entry list as over 62 miles of world-class stages offered up the perfect battleground for some of the best drivers in the business. With iconic tests such as Myherin and Hafren Sweet Lamb in store, the longer afternoon stages, rain and thick mist re-created a sense of Wales Rally GB fever for the thousands of fans who lined the stages.

It was Ingram and co-driver Alex Kihurani who took first blood, stopping the clocks just over three seconds faster than Pryce but from there on in, it was the Welshman who took control with a vengeance, winning each one of the remaining morning stages to head into service with almost 12 seconds in hand over Ingram.

But set-up changes in the wrong direction to Ingram’s Polo in service saw the North West Stages winner fall back from the front runners, into the clutches of Creighton and Liam Regan who were on a mission over the afternoon loop in their Pirelli-supported Fiesta Rally2. Two fastest times out of the block after service saw the Irishmen close in on Pryce, but it wouldn’t be enough.

Just to hammer home his authority on the Welsh stages, Pryce set the scratch time on the seventh and final stage of the event, to take his first BRC victory since Rally Yorkshire in 2022.

“It’s a big relief, I’m so happy to get the win today. We had a dodgy couple of stages at the end, and to be honest, it was so slippy, but I drove at a pace where I was comfortable,” said Pryce.

“I did lose some time, which in the end wasn’t too bad, but we certainly had some hairy moments just trying to keep it on the road. Credit to everyone who’s got me here. Top job from Rhodri today too, that’s his first-ever win!

“I`m pleased we bounced back from our North West disappointment and now we move forward to the Jim Clark which is an event I really enjoy.”

Creighton was a very pleased second place on his gravel debut in the Fiesta. Having spent much of his season so far acclimatising to his new machine for the 2024 season, Creighton underlined his adaptability by keeping Pryce honest and taking his second BRC runner-up spot in as many events, ensuring he remains in the mix to potentially add a further title to his 2021 Junior BRC crown.

Ingram couldn’t quite get to grips with the Polo on gravel and as the rain descended in the forests during the afternoon, Ingram felt his pace ebb away. However, third spot means he still leads the championship and the hope of getting behind the wheel of a Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 for the next round, offers some consolation for the Castrol MEM Rally Team frontrunner.

Outside of the podium places, James Williams is beginning to get to grips with his Hyundai i20 N Rally2, securing fourth place with Ross Whittock on the notes. All the signs are there for progression this season as top three times came during the day, and he was in a prime position to grab a podium if the front-runners faltered.

Garry Pearson and Daniel Barritt made up for a tricky start to their BRC campaign in Lancashire, by sealing fifth overall in their Fiesta Rally2 whilst Meirion Evans and Jonathan Jackson gave the Yaris Rally2 its UK debut on the gravel to take sixth.

Elliot Payne was far more at home on the gravel and would be as high as sixth despite electing not to take advantage of recce. The Fiesta Rally driver took seventh with Patrick Walsh alongside.

Making his British rallying debut and embarking on his first competitive gravel outing, Jos Verstappen made the trip to Wales to sample the BRC in his Skoda Fabia R2 Rally2. With co-driver Renaud Jamoul alongside, the father of F1 superstar Max enjoyed his outing, despite the difficult conditions.

“We previously tested on gravel, or actually on sand, in the south of France” explained Verstappen.

“We really liked it, so started to look for a nice place for a rally on gravel, which is why we did the Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages. It was really difficult, but I enjoyed it. It was incredibly foggy during the first stages. Fortunately, the notes we had were good, but we had to build it up because we had never driven here before. It was a completely new challenge, totally different than what I am used to. But we went for it, and it was great.”

Kyle White secured ninth overall in his Hyundai i20, going some way to rectify the opening stage crash in Lancashire and the first real points for the JKS Team Northern Ireland, with Neil Roskell rounding out the top ten in his Fiesta.

Four-time champion Keith Cronin cited that Wales had never been kind to him in the past; that wasn’t about to change. Stating that a “podium would be a good result,” Cronin would be fighting for that honour for most of the morning, before a spin and then a puncture in the longest stage of the rally ruled him out of contention in the Fiesta.

Callum Black would endure a testing morning, with a failed fuel pump before the rally even got underway. The team would rectify the issue, and he would run as high as seventh before a sheared bolt on the unit ended his day early. Other retirements came from Ollie Mellors in the Proton Iriz and Dutch driver Roger Hodenius in the Fabia. Alan Carmichael failed to make the opening stage after water pump failure on the road section.

Junior British Rally Championship, BRC3 and BRC4
The action in the Junior British Rally Championship was just as intense as the top-flight category but it was the young Scottish ace Robert Proudlock who secured his very first Junior BRC victory. Proudlock and co-driver Steven Brown spent much of the day chasing Ioan Lloyd and Sion Williams but when Lloyd got his Peugeot 208 Rally4 beached on a corner, Proudlock took command and was never headed.

Joining the series for the first time, the Stellantis Motorsport Rally Cup IRE & UK saw a super lineup of Peugeot 208 drivers eager to make their mark on the BRC, with a cash fund and FIA European Rally Championship prize fund up for grabs at the end of the season.

Lloyd was at home and felt at home, edging out a sizeable lead but when he exited, Proudlock pounced to claim his first win. Last year’s Junior runner-up Kyle McBride and co-driver Darragh Mullen grabbed second but headed into the final stage just half a second ahead of Keelan Grogan and Ayrton Sherlock. They emerged well up the road and ensured the top three remained the same by the time the flag dropped.

Cian Caldwell and Liam Egan were fourth whilst Casey Jay Coleman and Lorcan Moore added to their opening round podium with fifth. North West Junior winner Kalum Graffin sadly ended his rally in the undergrowth after a sizeable roll.

Stephen Waugh and Carl Williamson claimed their first victory in the BRC3 category, taking their Ford Fiesta Rally3 to 25th overall, whilst Michael Fitzgibbon and Carrie Ryan claimed the BRC4 spoils in their Peugeot 208 Rally4.

Open Rally Title & National Rally Title
John Rintoul and Ross Hynd put their torrid opening round behind them to seal the Open Rally Title top score in their Ford Fiesta R5.

The National Rally Title spoils would go to Tom Llewellin, son of two-time British champion David and co-driver Will Atkins in their Ford Escort MKII, whilst William Mains and Tomos Whittle grabbed second in their Corsa. The Ginetta G40 of Nick Heard and Oliver Mathinson rounded out the podium on the car’s gravel debut.

Round three of the season takes crews into the Scottish Borders for the Beatson’s Building Supplies Jim Clark Rally at the end of May.

The event will be broadcast on ITV4 and ITVX on Wednesday 24th April at 20:00 and repeated at 08:00 on Sunday 28th April.

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