Swede joins Bo­gie in a Fabia as CA1 switches to DMACK

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - By Jack Benyon

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.

Un­fin­ished busi­ness

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.

Com­pet­i­tive package

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.”

Bo­gie time

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.

Photos:jakob Ebrey

Ahlin gets Fabia like Bo­gie’s (pic­tured)

Bo­gie (l) could chal­lenge Ahlin (c) reck­ons Wilkin­son (r)

Ahlin swaps from a Ford Fi­esta

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