EVANS AH­LIN says...

V Shock as Swedish ace emerges as Brit’s clos­est BRC ri­val Ti­tle fight is on

Motor Sport News - - Rally News -

Af­ter a fran­tic week­end, what has Mid Wales told us about the sea­son to come?

Firstly, that it has all the hall­marks to be an in­trigu­ing and ex­cit­ing en­counter. The bat­tle be­tween Ah­lin and Evans was bril­liant to say the least, with tyres play­ing a cru­cial part. The cov­ers may be very close to­gether in re­al­ity, but they can pro­vide a big dif­fer­ence when com­bined with the cor­rect set-up.

As I ex­plain in my col­umn (see page 15), Evans was mag­nif­i­cent over the week­end, the win­ning mar­gin doesn’t tell the story. But the Welsh­man was right in say­ing he couldn’t let Fredrik take the joker vic­tory away. With the Swede show­ing he can ar­rive in the UK and be on the pace in­stantly, it bodes for a close bat­tle in Carlisle and Scot­land. Where the re­ally in­trigu­ing bat­tles will oc­cur is on the tar.

Evans has demon­strated light­ning pace on as­phalt in the past, you only have to look at his podium in Cor­sica last year to see that he is as good – if not bet­ter – on the black top than the loose. Ah­lin is very much a novice on as­phalt, and on pa­per there isn’t a bat­tle. But we know that the DMACK tyre is be­hind Miche­lin and Pirelli. So could that hin­der Evans and bring the two closer to­gether? For that, we’ll have to wait and see.

DMACK is work­ing in­cred­i­bly hard to im­prove its tyres – which aren’t that far off the pace any­way – so the mar­gin to the other mar­ques could de­cide the out­come.

An­other man I ex­pect to join the lead fight in the com­ing ral­lies is Tom Cave. He’s on Miche­lins for the as­phalt rounds – ac­cepted as the best as­phalt tyre – and hav­ing got a rally un­der his belt af­ter his mas­sive off on the Red Kite Stages, he showed flashes of ex­cel­lent pace in Mid Wales. A punc­ture played a ma­jor part in the loss of time, and aside from that he could well have been chal­leng­ing with Ah­lin and Evans for the vic­tory. Jack Benyon

DRIVER/NAV­I­GA­TOR

1 Don­agh Kelly/conor Fo­ley 2 Garry Jen­nings/rory Kennedy 3 De­clan Boyle/brian Boyle 4 Daragh O’rior­dan/tony Mcdaid 5 Keith Cronin/mikie Galvin 6 Alas­tair Fisher/gor­don Noble 7 Sam Mof­fett/karl Atkin­son 8 Desi Henry/liam Moynihan 9 Kevin Kelle­her/gwyn­for Jones 10 Roy White/james O’brien

The first of the cars I climbed aboard was the Subaru Im­preza of Leanne Richard­son, who will com­pete in ral­ly­cross for the first time in 2016.

On pulling away from the start line, my first im­pres­sion was that the Im­preza’s ac­cel­er­a­tion was im­pres­sive given the weight of the ba­si­cally stan­dard sa­loon car. Pro­duc­ing around 220bhp out of the fac­tory, the Im­preza’s grunt pro­pelled it around the twisty ral­ly­cross cir­cuit at Bly­ton rather nicely. The sus­pen­sion – which like ev­ery­thing else on the car is stan­dard (aside from the safety mod­i­fi­ca­tions) – was soft to say the least but, even though the car wal­lows around un­der brak­ing and on cor­ner en­try, it was very con­trol­lable and for­giv­ing.

The stan­dard, servo-as­sisted brakes take a lit­tle get­ting used to as the pedal is quite long, but they did work and well too. This Im­preza was run­ning stan­dard road-go­ing tyres at the test day, so it was easy to lock a wheel, and there was a lot of turn-in and mid-cor­ner un­der­steer, but that will be much im­proved when the car is fit­ted with some ral­ly­cross boots.

The car was very chuck­able, es­pe­cially on the loose sec­tion of the cir­cuit, and had plenty enough power to get nice and side­ways.

Pro­duc­tion 4x4 essentials

This is a class for four-wheel-drive pro­duc­tion cars. Only safety mod­i­fi­ca­tions are per­mit­ted. Most likely choice will be the Subaru Im­preza, but Mit­subishi Lancer Evos could also ap­pear, or even more ex­otic ma­chines.

stage for a se­quen­tial ver­sion.

Su­per Mod­i­fied should be the cream of the two-wheel-drive brigade in Club­mans ral­ly­cross, and this car proved that.

Su­per Mod­i­fied essentials

In lay­man’s terms, as long as the car’s en­gine re­mains in the orig­i­nal lo­ca­tion, and has the same num­ber of cylin­ders as stan­dard, then the rest is al­most free, which pro­duces a va­ri­ety of in­ter­est­ing cars.

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