Why Rally GB is a happy hunt­ing ground for Brits

Motor Sport News - - Rally Gb Preview: The Entry - Pho­tos: mck­lein-im­age­database.com

Since the WRC be­gan in 1973, how many dif­fer­ent Bri­tish driv­ers have won their home round of the series? And how many times?

Un­for­tu­nately, on the face of it, the maths doesn’t take too long. It’s three: Roger Clark, Colin Mcrae and Richard Burns. To­tal num­ber of vic­to­ries from 31 years in the full World Rally Cham­pi­onship? Seven.

Well, that’s not ex­actly the full story. Ac­tu­ally, there has been a Brit on the podium’s top step 18 times in 31 years, 19 if we in­clude Ir­ish­men as well. How’s that? Be­cause 12 times a Bri­tish or Ir­ish co-driver has won the RAC Rally as it was or Wales Rally GB as it is with an over­seas driver along­side them.

Most re­cently, Phil Mills won his home event four times on the bounce with Pet­ter Sol­berg. Be­fore his switch to sit along­side Colin Mcrae, Nicky Grist won a snowy 1993 RAC along­side Juha Kankkunen. Four years ear­lier, Ronan Mcnamee and Pentti Airikkala won for Mit­subishi.

Terry Har­ry­man scored his only RAC win in 1984 with Ari Vata­nen, while Henri Toivo­nen won the event twice with two dif­fer­ent home­grown co-driv­ers: Neil Wilson in 1985 and Paul White in 1980. Be­fore that, Henry Lid­don shared an early Sev­en­ties hat-trick with leg­endary fly­ing Finn Timo Maki­nen.

Not want­ing to leave them out, Scots­men Derek Ringer and Robert Reid both won – and took world ti­tles in these woods – along­side Richard Burns and Colin Mcrae re­spec­tively.

Bri­tish co-driv­ers have al­ways been big news at home.

And they still are. Look at the en­try list and you’ll see fac­tory Citroen co-driver Scott Martin’s name along­side Craig Breen; Michael Orr with Yazeed Al-ra­jhi in a Ford Fi­esta RS WRC and Hyundai star Seb Mar­shall with Dutch­man Kevin Ab­bring in an i20 R5.

Com­ing from across the Ir­ish Sea from his home in Kil­lar­ney is, how­ever, the man who has called Kris Meeke home to vic­tory in Por­tu­gal and Fin­land this sea­son: Paul Na­gle.

Re­con­nais­sance and pacenotes were only per­mit­ted on the RAC Rally from 1990 on­wards. Be­fore that, Bri­tish and Ir­ish co-driv­ers of­fered a gen­uine and tan­gi­ble ad­van­tage in terms of map-read­ing abil­ity and lo­cal knowl­edge on the event.

Since then, how­ever, the strength and depth of nav­i­ga­tors com­ing from these parts sim­ply hasn’t dropped away and still we con­tinue to de­velop them at a tremen­dous rate.

Dur­ing one week ear­lier this year, Bri­tish and Ir­ish co-driv­ers were present test­ing 2017-spec­i­fi­ca­tion World Rally Cars for Citroen (Na­gle, Martin and Chris Pat­ter­son), Hyundai (Mar­shall) and M-sport’s all-new Ford Fi­esta RS WRC with Stu­art Loudon work­ing with Matthew Wilson.

There’s no sign of that tal­ent drop­ping off.

Meeke is a two-time win­ner al­ready in 2016 Paul Na­gle wants a GB vic­tory

OC­TO­BER 26 2016

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