by Geoff Mayes
Jason Pritchard scored a dominant victory on the International Rally Yorkshire last weekend, an event which marked his first gravel rally in almost a year, and a result which sets the 20-year-old up for a late season championship challenge.
Pritchard, a member of the MSA British Rally Elite, had missed the opening round of the 2008 Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship, the Pirelli International Rally, with a broken ankle.
Since then the championship has featured three tarmac rallies in a row, of which Jason has taken two podiums. This weekends Pickering based Rally Yorkshire marked the series return to gravel and despite never having driven his left hand drive North Road Garage-backed Citroen C2R2 on gravel before he was imperious, winning six out of the nine stages and eventually returned to the ceremonial finish with a margin of over a minute over his nearest rival.
The only drama for the Quick Motorsport-run Citroen was when the dashboard display showed a very high temperature reading on the penultimate stage. Pritchard completed the final two stages with the heaters on and was able to breathe a sigh of relief at the end.
“What a brilliant run. We knew we would have a good pace here as we ran well last year before mechanical troubles halted us,” he noted.
“This is the first time I've really driven on gravel since Wales Rally GB last year and the first time I've driven a left hand drive car on gravel since 2006. But it all went really well. The notes worked well and George [Gwynn – my co-driver] was spot on all day long.”
The championship now prepares for the grand finale, the season ending Wales Rally GB. With this three-day long endurance event counting as two rounds and with Pritchard only eleven points adrift of the lead, it really is all to play for from December 5-7.