AHLIN RETURNS TO BRC
Swede joins Bogie in a Fabia as CA1 switches to DMACK
Fredrick Ahlin will return to the British Rally Championship in 2017, switching from a Ford Fiesta R5 to a Skoda Fabia R5 with his team CA1 switching to DMACK tyres.
Ahlin had been unlikely to return to the series this year with his eyes set on World or European championship rounds. But now he’ll return as a team-mate to Skoda driver David Bogie at CA1, joining previously announced Fiesta driver Jamie Anderson in the squad. Thomas Preston will also undertake rounds of the championship in his Skoda.
Ahlin was the only driver to win on gravel other than series champion Elfyn Evans in 2016, and he’s hoping that – coupled with his Tarmac pace – will give him the chance to win the title. Ahlin hadn’t driven a four-wheel-drive car on asphalt before last year, and he set frontrunning times on the three asphalt rounds last year.
“I feel like I have unfinished business in the BRC,” Ahlin told MN. “I think I made some mistakes, but I also had bad luck.
“With five rallies and two of them you retire with strange technical faults, it’s not the team or the car, it’s bad luck. I want to have one more go for the title this year. Last year I was stressed that I had to collect a lot of points from gravel as I didn’t know how fast I was going to be on the Tarmac. But I think we showed pace on the Tarmac too, which takes a lot of pressure off this year.”
Ahlin works for the Volkswagen Audi Group and the car switch comes with the backing of Skoda Sweden.
He’ll be joined by new co-driver Torstein Eriksen, who joined Ahlin on World Rally Championship events in 2015 as they both helped Citroen driver Mads Ostberg with pacenotes.
CA1 team boss Martin Wilkinson reckons Ahlin’s commitment is never in question.
“To have Fredrik back is really good for us,” said Wilkinson. “We know he’s going to push hard and there’s a passion there, he can’t keep at bay. What you see with him is what you get.”
The Swede is also targeting certain European Rally Championship rounds, with Barum Czech Rally Zlin and Rally Latvia in the offing.
The CA1 outfit switches from Pirelli tyres to DMACK for 2016. Ahlin, who has run on the tyres before, thinks it makes up a competitive package.
“I’m happy, it’s a team move, CA1 think DMACK is the most competitive choice and I’m more than happy enough with the decision,” he said.
“Martin’s instinct is they are the quickest tyre in the UK and I trust him in everything 100 per cent. I actually think we have a very strong package.”
Team-mate David Bogie added: “I’ve seen the tyre get better and better and better, and we’re confident enough that the tyre is more than competitive and good enough to go for rally wins.”
Although Ahlin becomes the instant favourite for the BRC title with reigning champion Evans not returning, CA1 boss Wilkinson has pointed to David Bogie as a bigger threat in 2017. “David impressed me more than anybody else last year and it was all on GB,” explained Wilkinson.
“The times David was doing, probably unseen by some people, but on times he was in the middle of a fight with factory Skoda drivers who were fighting for their careers. It was probably the best David has driven, ever, I genuinely believe that.”
Bogie received a new car before the final round of the championship last year and feels he’s in a better position starting the year than last, when he debuted his Fabia on the opening BRC round. He won last weekend’s Snowman Rally, the Scottish Rally Championship opener, debuting the new DMACK tyres for the team in the process.
“I know the team and car better now, we’re in a much better position moving forward than we were starting last year,” he said.
Ahlin gets Fabia like Bogie’s (pictured)
Bogie (l) could challenge Ahlin (c) reckons Wilkinson (r)
Ahlin swaps from a Ford Fiesta