Welshman breaks record on Manx. By Chris Boyde
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