Pen­dle driver will com­pete on se­lected BRC events in 2016

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - By Jack Benyon Pho­tos: Ral­lipho­to­swales, Ja­son Craig

Thomas Pre­ston will be the lat­est driver to cam­paign a brand new Skoda Fabia R5 in the UK when his car is de­liv­ered in May.

The Lan­cashire driver has used a Ford Fo­cus WRC01 since 2014 in se­lected events, but he feels now is the time to step up to cur­rent ma­chin­ery af­ter sat­is­fy­ing a child­hood dream of driv­ing a WRC car thanks to the Hippo Mo­tor Group.

Pre­ston will cam­paign the Fabia in the Bri­tish Rally Cham­pi­onship and BTRDA rounds this year in a bit-part sched­ule, with the first event de­pend­ing on when Pre­ston re­ceives the car. He’ll also start a test pro­gramme be­fore the first event.

He said: “I got back into ral­ly­ing prop­erly about four years ago af­ter buy­ing a Mit­subishi Lancer E6.

“We fin­ished third over­all on the two-day na­tional part of Rally GB then I moved up to a Lancer E9 and had some good re­sults in that too. Since be­ing a child I wanted to drive a WRC car and have now ticked that box but I feel that the way for­ward for me is an R5 car.”

When the Fabia ar­rives, it will be pre­pared by Martin Wilkinson’s CA1 Sport out­fit, which is al­ready run­ning a Fabia for BRC chal­lenger David Bo­gie. The Cum­brian firm has run Pre­ston on events in his Fo­cus pre­vi­ously.

“I have been friends with Martin for about 10 years now,” ex­plained Pre­ston. “When I bought the Fo­cus he came on a cou­ple of tests with me and has also looked af­ter the car on a few events. The team has a great rep­u­ta­tion and the ser­vice and sup­port I re­ceive from them is se­cond to none.”

Of the BRC rounds, Pre­ston has picked out Rally Isle of Man as a po­ten­tial favourite: “All the ral­lies on the cal­en­dar look great but I am look­ing for­ward to the Isle of Man. I’ve only done the event once: the stages are bril­liant.”

No Skoda Fabia R5 has com­peted in the BTRDA Se­ries, while Neil Simp­son and Bo­gie are set to com­pete in the BRC this year.

Mun­nings is headed to ERC level Skoda Fabia R5 has proved suc­cess­ful at World Cham­pi­onship Pre­ston has driven a Fo­cus WRC01

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