28 April 2010
Gwyndaf Evans may have lucked into the success, but his JRM team was happy to accept Pirelli International success as it broke its duck in the BRC.
Gwyndaf Evans and co-driver Chris Patterson provided JRM with its very first British Rally Championship win in last weekend's Pirelli International encounter in Cumbria, while team-mates Daniel Sigurdarson and sister Asta Siguradardottir ensured a successful event all round for the team by coming second in the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge.
Based at Carlisle Racecourse, the Pirelli International Rally - round two of the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship - featured 100 competitive miles in Kielder Forest, with three stages held in the dark on Friday evening and a further nine between 7am and 7pm on Saturday. Adding to the challenge of the infamous forest was the result of the recent dry spell, which meant that the dust generated by cars traversing the loose gravel roads was to cause visibility problems for the drivers.
Last year's winner of this event, and current British Rally champion, Keith Cronin was the first to leave the start line, a factor that was to be a big advantage in the conditions, as following cars would have to contend with the dust hanging in the air. The first of Friday evening's stages, however, saw Evans record the second fastest time, just 3.7secs adrift of Cronin.
It was on SS2 that conditions worsened, Evans reporting that the visibility was so poor he had to stop on the straights and, as the cars returned to Carlisle for the overnight halt, the Welshman found he was 24secs down on the leader, with Craig Breen in a Fiesta S2000 a further 18secs behind in third.
Without the need to use lights and with a breeze helping clear the dust clouds, conditions improved for Saturday's stages. Throughout the day Cronin, Evans and Breen posted a series of times that were only separated by a few seconds, which meant that the top three positions remained unchanged.
With stage nine cancelled because of local PR problems, timesheets showed that with the final loop of three stages to go, there was only 25secs between the leading trio. With his car running perfectly, Evans knew he could push for the lead, but he was well aware that one mistake in Kielder forest could mean anything from an off to a puncture.
As he lined up to start the last stage, there were still 17secs between him and the leader, with Breen now closed to just four seconds behind. But, with the finish almost in his sights, Cronin collected a puncture, the disintegrating rubber damaging his Subaru's wiring loom and, consequently, stopping his car just 200 yards from the flying finish.
Breen also suffered a puncture in the final stage and, although making it to the finish, he lost nearly three minutes. The misfortunes of the others around him meant that Evans exited the twelfth and final stage with a lead of two minutes and 33 seconds, the outcome providing the Welshman with his first British Championship victory since 1998 and JRM its first outright BRC win - a result that had previously eluded the team.
"Winning a round of the British Rally Championship has never been easy and therefore I'm really pleased to have done it this weekend, not just for me but for the whole team," Evans claimed, "I know it means a lot to them as they have worked very hard to develop the Evo X to where it is now. It ran perfectly throughout the event, so we have achieved what we set out to.
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