Jason Pritchard, the newly re-crowned MSA R2 British Rally Champion, was the class of the field on his recent outing to France for the Rallye Le Touquet, where the 21-year-old ran inside the top three in his class for most of the rally.
The British Rally Elite member and co-driver Andrew Edwards were contesting the event in an effort to clinch the British Citroen Racing Trophy but as well as facing their season long rival Martin McCormack the pair would also be going up against some of the best drivers that France had to offer as the Rallye Le Touquet was the final round of the 2009 French National Championship. With no less than 12 Citroen C2R2's in the field of over 140 cars the Welsh pairing were hoping for a good showing.
Three stages on Friday night gave the crews a taste of things to come and the FCS Laser Mail, Competition Car Insurance and North Road Garage backed pair excelled in the dark conditions, returning to Le Touquet in 17th position overall and leading the R2 class by almost 10 seconds.
Overnight rain saw the crews all opt for wet weather tyres on Saturday but with Pritchard running on an old compound tyre for the first loop he struggled for grip and gradually fell down the leader-board, returning to mid-day service fourth in class.
Minor setup changes and new rubber for the afternoon loop helped initially with a set of quick times moving him back up to second before a spin once more saw Pritchard end the day in third.
Sunday morning however was a disaster as the 21-year-old slid off the road half way through the opening stage, flattening a hedge and coming to a halt in a front garden.
Although the little Citroen was completely undamaged the marshals refused to allow the spectators to help pull the car back onto the road and the Welshmen's strong run was at an end.
“I am disappointed as I feel like I've let the whole team down,” said Pritchard. “We proved that we could run at the front of the field this weekend but this was only the second time we've driven this car on BF Goodrich tyres as we normally use the Pirelli control Tyres in the UK and I just lacked confidence in the wet.
“The crash was all the more frustrating as we found out that a Subaru had crashed there before us but because it was four-wheel drive it was able to reverse out and carry on. The house owner also told us that a chicane is normally placed on the approach and as we were recovering the car the organisers were building a chicane for the second run.
“I would like to be the first to congratulate Marty and Phil on a great season and well done on winning the title. We now need to take stock of what's happened and decide on our plans for next season.”
by Geoff Mayes