Welsh­man tack­les home event in hired Mit­subishi

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - By Jack Benyon

BTRDA cham­pi­onship run­ner-up Luke Fran­cis will take on Wales Rally GB Na­tional, set­ting up a po­ten­tial fight with this year’s cham­pion Charlie Payne.

Through win­ning the BTRDA cham­pi­onship this year, Payne has a free en­try to GB in his Ford Fi­esta. Fran­cis crashed his Mit­subishi Lancer E9 on the Wood­pecker Rally, cost­ing him the ti­tle.

It also meant that his car wouldn’t be ready for GB, so he and co-driver John H Roberts will cam­paign a sim­i­lar Lancer E9 to theirs, with this one pre­pared by Macwhirter Mo­tor­sport.

“I’ve had to hire a car as mine’s not ready, it’s a Mcwhirter Mit­subishi,” said Fran­cis. “It’s the same sort of spec as mine and it’s still an E9.

“I’m ex­cited as I’m match fit, I’ve been keep­ing re­ally fit at the mo­ment. They’re re­ally long stages, which is a bit dif­fer­ent to what we’re used to in the BTRDA.”

The na­tional event uses the same stages as the World Rally Cham­pi­onship com­peti­tors, but uses each stage only once. The driv­ers are also not al­lowed to un­der­take a recce and com­pete on safety notes.

After a tough end to the year, Fran­cis merely wants a good fin­ish.

“We just want to go out and have a good run,” he added. “Ev­ery time we go out and do Rally GB, we have me­chan­i­cal prob­lems. We’ve just got to have a nice run and fin­ish the sea­son off.”

Fran­cis is hop­ing to chal­lenge Jock Arm­strong, who was the class of last year’s field be­fore a ball joint broke on the last stage, hand­ing the win to Mike Faulkner.

“I’ve never com­peted against Arm­strong be­fore. We’ve never met be­fore and I’m look­ing for­ward to say­ing hello and putting some times in against him. Dylan Davies is a good friend and he’ll be there or there­abouts too. It should be fun.”

Pho­tos: FIA ERC, Writ­tle Pho­to­graphic, Pro-rally Pho­tog­ra­phy, chas­ingth­e­

Fran­cis was a reg­u­lar win­ner in BTRDA this year

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