Reigning Citroen C2R2cup champion Jason Pritchard survived an excursion into an infamous Kielder ditch to stage a storming drive to third in class in his Citroen C2R2 Max and in doing so picked up valuable points towards his 2009 campaign.

Pritchard and co-driver Andrew Edwards had opted to tackle the second round of the 2009 MSA British Rally Championship with caution, as the Kielder forest complex is renowned for being unforgiving. Thus the pair were pleasantly surprised to complete the opening stage on Friday night with a seven second cushion over their rivals.

However everything went wrong on the second stage of Saturday. About half way through the test the rear of the car stepped out of a rut and the nose was sucked into a deep Kielder ditch. Although there was remarkably little damage to the car it took a group of enthusiastic spectators nearly forty minutes to extract the little Citroen from its resting place. And then, to add insult to injury, the gear stick broke a couple of miles further on.

With all hopes of a repeat victory out of the question, the pair opted to focus on the final podium position in the class instead. With nothing to gain on Saturday the pair nursed the Citroen around the rough stages and eventually returned to Carlisle on Saturday evening third in class and thirtieth overall.

"When you look at our times through the first stage and see that we were seven seconds quicker than anyone else in class, you do have to wonder what Saturday would have been like," Pritchard said. "But after that massive time loss in stage two Andrew and I agreed to just cruise to the finish and pick up valuable points.

"The actual incident is very puzzling because, even when you look back at the in car footage, there is no reason why we should have snapped around like that. It's just one of those things, and I guess we can be lucky for 'surviving' a Kielder ditch! I'd like to say a massive thanks to everyone who helped pull us out of that ditch, it was a massive effort so cheers guys!"

by Geoff Mayes

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