Record equalling fifth victory for Pritchard at the Manx National Rally
Jason Pritchard took maximum points on both days of the double-header Masterpixel Media Manx National Rally. The wins further extended his lead in the Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship and his latest win on the Isle of Man, equalled Kenny McKinstry’s five event victories.
Pritchard gained a 57 second lead from his nearest rival on Friday and had to do it all again on Saturday if he was to achieve maximum points again on eight dry and fast stages. After a near-perfect first day, Pritchard lost time on SS10 when the launch system of his Ford Focus WRC05 failed. He then broke a little too late for a corner on SS11, locked up and stalled the engine. The glimmer of hope Pritchard had given his rivals was shortly dashed as he and co-driver Phil Clarke put the ‘pedal-to-metal’ and ensured another incredible victory on the Manx Auto Sport-organised event.
The Manx roads are a favourite for Jamie Jukes. He and Co-driver James Morgan, picked up points for a second place on Friday and fourth on Saturday in their Mitsubishi Mirage for the Spencer Sport team, which given the number of World Rally Cars on the event, was a remarkable achievement. Jukes and Morgan demonstrated what a fantastic car the Mirage is with some stunning stage times and the overall runners-up position.
Hugh Hunter/Rob Fagg claimed fourth place on the Friday night, their ex-François Duval Focus WRC05 was flying at times but that was far from the case over the duration of the double-header. A range of issues cost them over four minutes on Friday, so to score 26 points was just-reward for their perseverance. Saturday started with more brake problems and one minute lost on the opening stage of the day.
However, afterwards the Ruthin driver flew setting three fastest-stage times as they climbed back to fourth overall, scoring second placed points on Saturday’s Round 3.
Alan Kirkaldy and Co-driver Cameron Fair dominated the R5 category on both days. The St Andrew’s pilot knew there was a high possibility of being caught on Saturday by Hunter, with the faster stages less suited to his Cairnsmill Caravan Park Fiesta R5.
However, two third-place finishes gave the pair a total of 54 points over the weekend, moving Kirkaldy and Fair into second in the overall drivers’ points table.
David Hardie/John McCulloch continue to get used to their left-hand drive Fiesta R5, and survived Friday despite the car bottoming out and struggling through SS7 and 8 with no main beam. They looked destined for a good finish, before rolling near the start of the penultimate stage. A few miles further along, Jody Bowcott/David Millard also rolled their Proton Satria S2500, blocking SS15 as their Garden Exteriors-backed car was left stranded upside down on a narrow section of road.
Damian Cole had launch system issues with his Get Connected/Energizer-backed Ford Focus WRC05, which saw him down in 16th place overall. A change of clutch at the halfway service failed to fix the issue but he and new co-driver Max Freeman pushed on and climbed up to seventh overall by the end of the Friday night, collecting points for fifth. Cole eventually finished seventh overall and more points for another fifth place, which sees him hold a strong third in the drivers’ series.
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Jason Pritchard (1st) was delighted with the win. Here’s what he had to say about the weekend’s events:
“It’s a fantastic feeling to win the Manx National Rally five times and to equal Kenny McKinstry’s record number of victories. Hopefully we’ve got a few more wins in us yet! I love driving this Focus WRC, I love driving these Manx stages and when the two combine it’s just such a pleasure to do. It’s not easy to win here, but when it all clicks you feel in a comfort zone and it’s the best feeling in the world. Losing time with a launch problem and a stall with the overshoot on day two made it difficult to work out exactly where we were in terms of the Asphalt Championship points, but we gave it a good go on a couple of stages to try and make the time up and ensure we came away with maximum points from both days.”
Jamie Jukes (2nd) said:
“To be the best of the rest behind Jason is a fantastic result for the Mirage and realistically the best result we could have hoped for. I’m really pleased for the team, because they have worked hard on this car and you can see in the stage times how much it has leapt forward. Because the opportunity to test on Tarmac is so limited, and we have a very good engineer in the car co-driving, we have experimented a lot with set up on this event and we now have an extremely good car. I’m also pleased for myself – Jason is far better than your normal clubman and an extremely efficient and effective driver, so to finish behind him on the Manx National is no mean feat.”
Hugh Hunter (3rd) recalled:
“After the start we had on day one, it’s incredible to come away with an Asphalt Rally Championship podium finish and fourth overall on the rally. Having somehow got through Friday night, on the first stage on Saturday we lost a minute when we stalled at a hairpin – but after that we had good clean stages, a really good battle with Jason and I was pleased to be swapping times with him. I’ve never been to Belgium, so I now quite fancy going to Rally van Wervik as it’s something I’d like to experience.”
Two camera crews and a drone captured some stunning live action footage from the event, all of which is still available to view on the Special Stage Facebook page
Round 4 of the Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship is the Woodstoxx – Motul Rally van Wervick in Belgium on 15 June.
2019 Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship Regulations and Entry Forms are available to download at: asphaltrallying.com
2019 Masterpixel Media Manx National Rally overall points
Below are the top 10 Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship overall finishers:
||Jason Pritchard/Phil Clarke
||Ford Focus WRC05
||1hr 54mins 33.7secs
||Jamie Jukes/James Morgan
||Hugh Hunter/Rob Fagg
||Ford Focus WRC05
||Alan Kirkaldy/Cameron Fair
||Ford Fiesta R5
||Damian Cole/Max Freeman
||Ford Focus WRC05
||Darren Atkinson/Phil Sandham
||Ford Escort Mk2
||Wayne Sisson/Neil Shanks
||Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10
||Bob Fowden/Den Golding
||Subaru Impreza WRC S11
||Oli Hopkins/Ian Taylor
||Jonathan Stepney/Aled Daves
||Peugeot 205 GTi
2019 Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship
Below are the overall driver points after Round 3:
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