SCOT­TISH TRI­UMPH FOR EVANS

BRI­TISH RALLY CHAM­PI­ONSHIP RE­PORT

Motor Sport News - - Front Page -

It’s 20 years since Gwyn­daf Evans won his first and only BRC ti­tle, the last Welsh­man to win the cov­eted cham­pi­onship, but his son El­fyn is do­ing his best to end that bar­ren streak for a coun­try in such fine sport­ing form in 2016.

The RSAC Scot­tish Rally sig­ni­fied the pass­ing of the half­way mark in the re­formed se­ries; El­fyn Evans demon­strated his supreme pace putting him back in pole po­si­tion to in­herit the hon­our from his dad, another Bri­tish Rally cham­pion from Wales.

The fight was set to be as closely fought as any so far this year, with Evans and Fredrik Ah­lin both win­ning their dou­ble points races and dis­tort­ing the cham­pi­onship or­der, thus leav­ing a large gap back to the next ti­tle hope­ful. How­ever, it wasn’t set to be dis­torted for much longer as fourth placed cham­pi­onship man Tom Cave and reg­u­lar top three run­ner David Bo­gie had played their jok­ers and gone all out.

With Bo­gie a cou­ple of miles from his Scot­tish home, the 2011 BRC cham­pion was hotly favoured but it was gen­er­ally ac­cepted he would need the per­fect week­end to beat Evans, un­less the Welsh­man suf­fered an is­sue. Bo­gie had tested with team-mate and cham­pi­onship leader Ah­lin ear­lier in the week, and Pirelli had brought a spe­cial com­pound for the CA1 duo. With Evans on DMACKS and Cave on Miche­lins, the bat­tle was finely poised.

Tyres played a key role from the out­set. Both Bo­gie and Cave fell foul of the rough and rocky Scot­tish roads with de­flated cov­ers on the open­ing run through Twiglees. Evans went quick­est de­spite suf­fer­ing from over­steer and Ah­lin was strug­gling. He reck­oned be­ing out of the car for so long had left him rusty while most of his fel­low driv­ers had com­peted on events in the seven week gap be­tween events.

With that, the home hero Bo­gie was 8.8s down on Evans af­ter one stage with Cave a fur­ther three back. That prob­a­bly told you how hard they were push­ing in the stage with both suf­fer­ing punc­tures.

Just be­fore a quick ser­vice halt there was time for a Scot­tish clas­sic, Cas­tle O’er. De­spite not com­pet­ing in Scotland be­fore, Evans went quick­est again. Af­ter a punc­ture in Carlisle and a slight off on Rally Ar­gentina in WRC2, the Welsh­man’s 2016 cam­paign showed signs of lag­ging on both sides. But a supreme open­ing gam­bit re­sulted in a 13.3s lead over Bo­gie.

The Scot, de­spite suf­fer­ing a sec­ond punc­ture in two stages, man­aged fourth quick­est but felt there was some­thing wrong with the rear of the car af­ter a brace of punc­tures. The per­fect week­end hadn’t started well. Ah­lin how­ever was sec­ond quick­est on the test and only 2.5s down on Evans, who had a quick call at ser­vice from Gwyn­daf, who El­fyn re­ported was “just check­ing up on me.”

A group of three stages fol­lowed af­ter the first ser­vice and it was nor­mal ser­vice re­sumed. Evans was quick­est on all three ex­tend­ing his lead to 40.8s de­spite still suf­fer­ing from over­steer. Maybe the phone call pro­vided ex­tra mo­ti­va­tion: per­haps re­mem­ber­ing his fa­ther los­ing out to Scan­di­na­vian Jarmo Ky­tole­hto on the Perth Scot­tish Rally 20 years ear­lier on his way to the ti­tle.

The real bat­tle unfolding was for sec­ond over­all. Ah­lin went out on SS4 with a bro­ken prop­shaft leav­ing Bo­gie and Cave to fight it out. On the mid­dle stage of the three-test loop, Bo­gie went sec­ond quick­est and was the only per­son in Evans’ post­code com­ing within 4.8s of the DMACK driver. That gave him sec­ond over­all which he main­tained into the ser­vice af­ter three where he lost another 5.8s.

“El­fyn is driv­ing so well,” he said. “I can see his lines and we’re on the same one for most of it, but my style is so flam­boy­ant. I prob­a­bly look quicker but we’re los­ing exit speed, which is where ral­ly­ing is won and lost.”

It was a dou­ble-edged sword for Bo­gie, as the same ag­gres­sive style had helped him win the na­tional cat­e­gory in Done­gal the week­end be­fore. But ral­ly­ing has come a long way since the Ford Es­cort Mk2 was de­signed and Bo­gie is still com­ing to grips with the need to keep the R5 cars as neat and tidy as pos­si­ble to main­tain speed.

Cave was close be­hind Bo­gie on SS5, and only 9.6s down on the Scot. He suf­fered a loss of power in SS4 but the prob­lem ap­peared to be rec­ti­fied for SS5 so the bat­tle could go on. The mood of the fron­trun­ners in the ser­vice park was one of in­evitabil­ity. Even if they didn’t ad­mit it, the looks on the driv­ers faces were clear, Evans was favourite.

It wasn’t quite straight for­ward for El­fyn though, it hasn’t been all year.

A nig­gle had been at the back of his mind all morn­ing, the diff was thought to be the cause of the over­steer. Some­thing wasn’t right. The DMACK team, run by Ken Skid­more’s Au­totek out­fit, elected to change it for safety. But in ral­ly­ing, you can never guar­an­tee some­thing else won’t go wrong…

Mean­while, Bo­gie and Cave had two tests to fight each other out and wait for Evans’ seem­ingly in­evitable is­sue. It should have been three tests, but much to the dis­ap­point­ment of the Spencer Sport out­fit run­ning Tom Cave, it was short­ened when Knock­en­shang was deemed too rough to run.

Be­tween the Scot and the Welsh­man there was only 0.5s on SS6 with Cave taking first blood. But that meant 9.1s be­tween Cave’s Fi­esta and Bo­gie’s Skoda Fabia go­ing into the fi­nal test and Bo­gie’s bad day could at least yield sec­ond.

Cave, fresh off win­ning the Plains Rally – a BTRDA counter – and a big test be­fore the Scot­tish, still elected to push. BRC on­look­ers have been wait­ing for him to put on a push like it, yet to be seen this year. But if any­one needed a re­minder of the 24-year-old’s abil­ity, it was plain to see. He wres­tled Evans’ hon­our of win­ning every stage on the rally away and went quick­est aided by the tal­ented James Mor­gan. Not just quick­est, but quick­est by 4.7s.

As the times came in to the Dum­fries fin­ish ramp, the Spencer Sport boys were happy. But they got one more sur­prise be­fore the cars ar­rived.

The news was in. Bo­gie was out.

Groans from the crowd as the fin­ish cer­e­mony MC de­liv­ered the news over the load speaker. A busted ra­di­a­tor meant he was out and his bad luck con­tin­ues in 2016.

Even Cave gri­maced at the bad luck Bo­gie had suf­fered. But he’s had a fair share of his own bad luck this year and took the sec­ond place with aplomb.

But what of Evans? Last-stage drama. The pop-off valve was mal­func­tion­ing, and in or­der to rem­edy the prob­lem he had to lift off for a cou­ple of sec­onds. Parry added: “It’s not too bad, un­less you get out of shape and it hap­pens, and you lose power when you need the grunt to pull you out.”

Luck­ily, those words came from the fin­ish ramp as the duo held on for a big re­sult la­belled a “must win” by DMACK team boss Glenn Pat­ter­son. Af­ter a punc­ture rel­e­gated them to third in Carlisle, the ab­sence of Ah­lin means Evans takes a 20 point gap into the Nicky Grist where he knows the Satur­day stages well.

With Bo­gie out, the podium needed fill­ing, and it was the in­form Desi Henry that stepped up to the job. He and nav­i­ga­tor Liam Moyni­han won the DMACK Carlisle Stages ear­lier this month and saw off the strong op­po­si­tion. He en­deared him­self to the Dum­fries spec­ta­tors at the fin­ish by humbly an­nounc­ing: “I’m on the

podium with El­fyn Evans, and I am just a builder by day...”

Henry led a charge from a num­ber of run­ners from over the Ir­ish sea. Belfast­man Jonny Greer with Scot Kirsty Rid­dick on the notes con­tin­ued a strong and con­sis­tent run net­ting them more points. The crew were one of a few out in Done­gal in what has been a busy month for the duo, but there were no signs of any ex­haus­tion on their way to fourth of the BRC run­ners.

Also mak­ing the jour­ney over af­ter Done­gal was Mon­aghan’s Josh Mof­fett, whose cham­pi­onship po­si­tion re­mains strong de­spite miss­ing the Pirelli Carlisle. He man­aged fifth, and af­ter fin­ish­ing as the high­est-placed BRC run­ner at the Cir­cuit of Ire­land, he’s fourth and still yet to play his joker.

Sim­i­lar to Cave, a na­tional event win spurred on another Fi­esta driver. Jamie An­der­son and Ross Whit­tock rounded out the top six in Scotland af­ter win­ning the Sev­ern Val­ley Stages, with a third fastest stage time on SS8 his best so far this year.

As the dust set­tled, it was fit­ting Evans im­posed his wrath on the rest of the op­po­si­tion with four rounds gone and three re­main­ing. While he flew out to Poland on Sun­day to pre­pare for WRC2 du­ties, the rest of the chasers – es­pe­cially Ah­lin – must be won­der­ing what they can do to stop him.

Mor­gan/cave (l) and Moyni­han/henry (r) flank Parry/evans Evans re­took BRC se­ries lead with win

Bo­gie re­tired from sec­ond

Ed­wards: Another BRC 2 win in Scotland

Cave was rapid in sec­ond place

Desi Henry took podium po­si­tion

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.