Pritchard takes maximum points on the Ford Parts Cheviot Stages Rally to become 2018 Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally Champion

Pritchard takes maximum points on the Ford Parts Cheviot Stages Rally to become 2018 Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally Champion

31 Oct

By Tom Boote

A masterclass performance from Jason Pritchard and co-driver Phil Clarke in their North Road Garage Ford Focus WRC05, ensured the win on their first ever visit to the Ford Parts Cheviot Stages Rally, at Northumberland’s Otterburn Military Ranges.

Their target of winning the title was made even more difficult by just one pass over each stage on a very icy Saturday recce, with the snow, sleet and torrential rain making the undulating and narrow asphalt roads exceptionally slippery. However, despite this, Pritchard made only one mistake during the rally on Sunday, overshooting a junction on SS10 but brought the car home for the win without a scratch.
 
Winning the title is extra-special for Jason and the Pritchard family, as 30 years ago his father Eian narrowly missed out on clinching the Asphalt title on Otterburn. This was Jason’s fourth major rally title in as many years, as he won a record-breaking three, consecutive MSA British Historic Rally Championships in 2015, 2016 and 2017 with the 2018 Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally Championship now to be added to his trophy cabinet.
 
Daniel Harper, Pritchard’s main Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally Championship could clinch the title if he won the Cheviot Stages Rally, so it was a nail-biting, two-way battle with whoever finishing ahead of the other becoming the drivers’ champion; providing either one of them finished the event. Harper’s Minisport-run John Cooper Works Mini WRC had been rebuilt after an accident on a French rally, although unfortunately much worse was to follow for him and co-driver Chris Campbell. Thanks to a monsoon-like downpour, there was running water in the downhill braking area coming down to a square right and it was here that Harper’s title hopes disappeared before his eyes. The Mini, under braking in the wet, snapped sideways, smashing through a fence and coming to rest in a field. This rally and his title aspirations, were well and truly over.
 
This meant that Wayne Sisson/Max Freeman, who decided not to enter their AMS Arnside Motorsport Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10 on the final round finished runners-up in the Protyre MSA Asphalt Championship. The dropped score rule meant that they would have needed both Pritchard and Harper to retire to win the title and whatever points they’d score on Otterburn, would more than likely have been irrelevant. It turned out to be a wise decision by Sisson who was delighted to add ‘second overall’ to his Class B14 trophy.
 
Stephen Simpson/Patrick Walsh took second Asphalt Championship points on the Cheviot Stages Rally after a hugely-spirited drive in their CA1 Sport-prepared Ford Fiesta. Although enduring a big spin at the same corner as Harper, they survived, which meant they leapfrogged into seventh in the final points standings.
 
David Hardie hadn’t even sat in his TEG Sport Subaru Impreza for the best part of two months. However, this did not seem to affect his performance as he finish third, despite downshift problems on the final three stages, with John McCulloch on the pace notes.
 
The 2018 Protyre MSA Asphalt Champion Jason Pritchard had this to say:
“We’ve had everything thrown at us today, even snow, so it was a case of keeping it clean and getting the car to the finish without a problem. We almost managed to do that without making any mistakes, but we had a bit of an overshoot on one stage, but apart from that everything was steady away and spot on. It was a hard day’s rallying and anyone who reached the finish deserves a medal. Winning the Asphalt Championship means a lot, because Dad tried so many times and came so close. Thirty years ago, I’d only just been born and he was fighting for the title up here on Otterburn, and now I’ve got it. It’s going to take a while to sink it.”
 
Stephen Simpson (2nd) said: “It was particularly slippery on the first three stages this morning, and then there was a lot of sleet and torrential rain on the next three stages, so we were pleased to reach the mid-point without too many dramas. The stages this afternoon were okay really and we were able to pick a bit of speed up and we started to really enjoy it. It was a bit late to challenge for victory by then, but I’m very happy to have reached the finish of such a tough event.”
 
David Hardie (3rd) said: “I’m very pleased because I haven’t been in the car for about eight weeks, so I was just taking it easy in the morning – and in many ways the rain before lunchtime probably helped us. We picked up our pace and were faster in the middle part of the rally and just maintained that pace to finish with a good result. We were struggling a little on the last three stages with the down change on the gearbox and, as a result, we couldn’t do much late braking, but we managed that problem pretty well and got the car home for a good result.”
 

2018 Ford Parts Cheviot Stages Rally – Top 10 Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally Championship finishers

Position Drivers Time
1 Jason Pritchard/Phil Clarke 49mins 04secs
2 Stephen Simpson/Patrick Walsh 50mins 11secs
3 David Hardie/John McCulloch 50mins 53secs
4 Rhidian Daniels/Tomos Whittle 55mins 35secs
5 Steve Retchless/Sasha Heriot 56mins 18secs
6 Geoff Glover/Keith Barker 57mins 34secs
7 Paul Dorosczuk/Julian Dorosczuk 59mins 32secs
8 Mike Pugsley/Marc Clatworthy 1hr 00mins 35secs
9 Kevin Harbour/David Tortoishell 1hr 00mins 53secs
10 Tim Waters/Jack Waters 1hr 00mins 58secs


Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally Championship – provisional overall driver points after Round 6

Position Drivers Time
1 Jason Pritchard 139pts
2 Wayne Sisson 126pts
3 Daniel Harper 113pts
4 Melvyn Evans 83pts
5 Steve Retchless 82pts
6 Rhidian Daniels 80pts
7 Stephen Simpson 79pts
8 Paul Dorosczuk 79pts
9 Geoff Glover 76pts
10 Barry Groundwater 75pts

 

The live streaming broadcasts from the Whickham & District Motor Club and Hadrian Motor Sports Club-organised Cheviot Rally, with commentary from Howard Davies and special guest Ryan Champion, will remain on-line for viewing on the Special Stage Facebook page.

Edited highlights will be broadcast on Front Runner and on the Motor Trend On Demand channel, as well as the Special Stage Facebook, YouTube and App platforms, in due course – please check TV guides for details.
 
The 2018 Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally Championship gala prize-giving takes place at the beautiful Billesley Manor Hotel, near Stratford upon Avon, on Saturday 17 November.

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Author

Tom Boote

Tom has over 5 years’ digital marketing experience within the automotive industry in both B2B and B2C environments. Through this, Tom has honed his skills in digital communications, marketing, branding and web content management.  At Protyre, Tom is responsible for creating engaging and informative content across the website that provides consumers with expert advice on MOTs, servicing, vehicle maintenance and tyre care. As a motorsport enthusiast, Tom enjoys documenting the Protyre Motorsport team’s involvement in major motorsport events across the UK.

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