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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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.