PRITCHARD’S HAT-TRICK

Welsh­man breaks record on Manx. By Chris Boyde

Motor Sport News - - ERC: Acropolis Rally -

Ja­son Pritchard and Phil Clarke over­came an early chal­lenge to be­come the first crew to win the Manx Na­tional Rally in three con­sec­u­tive years in dom­i­nant style in their Ford Fo­cus WRC.

Ashley Field/jan­ice Moore (Dar­rian T90 GTR+) made the most of dry and sunny con­di­tions on Fri­day night to set fastest time on both runs of the open­ing Ram­sey town cen­tre stage, re­tain­ing the lead over the 10.84-mile SS3 St Judes, where both Pritchard and Field beat the bo­gey time.

It wasn’t un­til SS4 The Cronk that Pritchard moved to the top of the leader­board, 12.8s faster than Si­mon Bowen/richard Robin­son (Subaru S11). He com­pleted his night’s work by blaz­ing up Tholt-yWill, quick­est by 19s de­spite en­coun­ter­ing sheep on the road.

Bowen took se­cond place overnight de­spite be­ing stranded for some min­utes when the Subaru cut out be­tween the fly­ing fin­ish and stop con­trols. Field mean­while dropped 30s af­ter clip­ping a bank and stalling at a chi­cane.

David Hardie/john Mccul­loch (Subaru), who held third place early on, were side­lined with brake fail­ure on SS4.

John In­dri/peter James (Ford Fi­esta R5) suf­fered a stall on the open­ing stage and missed a split on SS3, cost­ing a fur­ther five min­utes. Spot­light is­sues and an SS8 punc­ture com­pleted a rally to for­get.

Pritchard was again fastest on the open­ing Satur­day test, The Garth, and had the least of the ar­riv­ing rain on The Bald­wins (SS8), quick­est by 39s to push the lead be­yond doubt. Damian Cole/ Paul Mor­ris (Fi­esta WRC) went se­cond fastest to over­haul lo­cals Stu Bain­bor­ough/char­lotte Shim­min (Mit­subishi Lancer E6) for fourth, with Tris­tan Pye/an­drew Fal­coner (Subaru) just be­hind.

Pritchard and Bowen beat the bo­gey on the re­run of St Judes (SS9) de­spite the damp, with Bain­bor­ough drop­ping to sixth, de­layed by a turbo re­lated mis­fire and rear sus­pen­sion is­sues.

Field’s promis­ing run in the Dar­rian came to an end early on SS11 Tholt-y-will with low oil pres­sure as Bowen con­tin­ued to be Pritchard’s near­est pur­suer.

The Subaru driver made one last gam­ble to try to add some pres­sure to the lead­ers, leav­ing fi­nal ser­vice on slicks as the rain light­ened, only for an­other shower to move across SS12 The Garth, ne­gat­ing the ef­fort.

Bain­bor­ough went fastest, is­sues re­solved, but then had to stop to change a punc­ture on the fi­nal The Bald­wins stage, drop­ping him to 14th. Cole also strug­gled in the wet con­di­tions, al­low­ing Pye to surge past and claim an un­ex­pected fi­nal podium place.

John Stone/jack Morton (Fi­esta S2500) fin­ished fifth af­ter los­ing their light pod on the open­ing evening and al­ter­na­tor fail­ure on Satur­day morn­ing, while Daniel Harper/chris Camp­bell (BMW Mini Cooper S) snatched sixth on the fi­nal stage from Richard Clews/carl Wil­liamson (Subaru).

An­drew Hock­ridge/aled Ed­wards (Citroen DS 3) fin­ished eighth, ahead of the lead­ing Isle of Man crew Timmy and Cliona Collins (E10), with Rod­ney White/ Sam Mcmul­lan (Talbot Sun­beam) com­plet­ing the top 10.

Cole took Max­i­mum MSA As­phalt points

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