MELLORS GAM­BLES ON NA­TIONAL EN­TRY Seed­ing has di­vided opin­ions be­fore Cir­cuit ARM­STRONG TAKES FIRST SCOT­TISH CHAM­PI­ONSHIP WIN IN 2016 6 IS­SUES PAGE 24

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Motor Sport News - - Rally News - By Jack Benyon

Ol­lie Mellors has gam­bled by en­ter­ing the na­tional el­e­ment of the Cir­cuit of Ire­land Rally – a round of the Bri­tish, Ir­ish and Euro­pean cham­pi­onships and he is the only BRC 1 driver to do so.

The fron­trun­ning R5 cars have paid to be­come part of the ERC – at a cost of around £2000 – but Mellors and co-driver Ian Win­dress have taken the shrewd move of en­ter­ing the na­tional sec­tion of the rally.

MN un­der­stands that mul­ti­ple BRC 1 driv­ers threat­ened to boy­cott the event, as even the fron­trun­ners of the Ir­ish Tar­mac and Bri­tish cham­pi­onships had to pay to be seeded at the front be­cause of its FIA in­ter­na­tional sta­tus. Oth­er­wise they would be seeded be­hind ERC Ju­nior driv­ers.

Mellors is cam­paign­ing in the BRC this year, and even though he is en­ter­ing a dif­fer­ent el­e­ment of the rally in the na­tional rather than the in­ter­na­tional, his times will be matched to the BRC run­ners over­all in that cham­pi­onship. The­o­ret­i­cally Mellors could be run­ning 50 cars back from the BRC crews, but could be ahead of them in the or­der once the BRC amal­ga­mates the times.

“I think we’ll be be­hind the ERC driv­ers [in the seed­ing] and it could make it very hard work,” ex­plained Mellors. “We might be run­ning in the dark and on muddy stages be­ing quite far back. At the same time it can go the other way, if it rains it could dry up for us, we’ll just have to wait and see.”

The weather could play a ma­jor part in Mellors’s fate, if he meets a dry­ing stage he could po­ten­tially go quicker than his fel­low BRC crews.

There’s an­other key fac­tor that could help Mellors, in­volv­ing the re­con­nais­sance: “We get an­other pass on the recce com­pared to the in­ter­na­tional crews too, which gives us an­other ad­van­tage com­pared to oth­ers,” he added.

The in­ter­na­tional run­ners will get two passes of the recce op­posed to the na­tional events’ three. With Mellors never do­ing the Cir­cuit be­fore – and with a host of new stages com­pared to 2015 any­way – the recce could be a con­tribut­ing fac­tor.

Mellors will go off as the 11th car in the na­tional cat­e­gory, and this could al­le­vi­ate a prob­lem for him which has also been dis­cussed with the seed­ing. The R5 cars who haven’t paid for pri­or­ity seed­ing will be be­hind the pri­or­ity cars and could there­fore catch the slower R2 ma­chin­ery in front. How­ever, Mellors’s move to the na­tional means he’ll be be­hind mul­ti­ple World Rally Cars com­pet­ing on the event and shouldn’t have to worry as much about cars in front.

The first three cars be­hind the pri­or­ity ERC Ju­niors are Josh Mof­fett, Max Vata­nen and Sam Mof­fett, all Ford Fi­esta R5 driv­ers.

Mellors and Win­dress com­peted on the Tour of Epynt ear­lier this month in or­der to set the car up for as­phalt and fa­mil­iarise them­selves with the ranges they’ll be us­ing on the Nicky Grist Stages in the BRC later this year.

The crew will be hop­ing to em­u­late Niall Mc­shea’s early per­for­mance in a sim­i­lar car on the Ir­ish round of the world rally cham­pi­onship in 2009, when he pushed his Sa­tria Neo S2000 on to third over­all in the wet, but he later re­tired.

Mellors en­joyed Epynt as­phalt

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