Brown races in for class title triumph
NISSAN Micra Kit Car pilot Steve Brown rounded off his third year in the Flanders International Rally Challenge (FIRC) in style, winning the competitive M2-B class and finishing 58th overall from 120 starters at the 6 Uren Van Kortrijk Rally, bagging him the M2-B Class title in the process.
Brown, from Rochdale managed to guide his Nissan through the treacherous conditions on the roads surrounding the Kortrijk rally base in the West of Flanders to win the hotly contested class, despite a significant power deficit to his rivals.
His result in the rain-soaked event also means he finishes the FIRC series in fifth overall, his best result in the Belgian championship.
Having narrowly missed out on a class victory in the 2015 National Asphalt Rally Championship, Brown and regular co-driver Paul Stringer turned their attention to the Belgian roads in 2016 to continue to develop their skills and knowledge of events outside of the UK.
A difficult two years followed, thanks mainly to an undeveloped car, but Brown took much of last year off to upgrade the popular Micra.
With the Nissan now up to full strength, Brown has enjoyed a successful third season in the car and would head to the final round of the series aiming to end the year on a high.
Heavy rain would make the closed-road stages difficult for all crews but with Brown running towards the lower end of the field, he would also have to deal with a significant amount of mud and gravel pulled out onto the “racing line” on the corners.
The opening stage took place on Saturday, with the following thirteen stages on Sunday, totalling over 80 competitive kilometres.
Brown stamped his authority firmly on the time sheets from the off, setting a top 30 stage time through the first test of the event.
With a long day ahead, a tentative approach was required to the stages to ensure the Nissan stayed on the road and not end in one of the infamous Belgian ditches.
Not only would he have to cope with the inclement conditions, but the Micra began to lose water over the closing stages and Brown would need to keep an eye on the temperature gauge in the tests.
Topping it up at every stage start, Brown nursed the Micra through the event to secure his best FIRC final result of his career.
“It’s always nice to end the season on a high and to bring the Micra to a class win is a very satisfying end to the year,” said Brown.
“The team have worked exceptionally hard on developing the car this year and whilst we are still about 200cc short of our class rivals, the other upgrades have made up for that.
“Kortrijk was one of the toughest events of the year and when you are running down in the hundreds on the road, the conditions were not so nice.
“But we battled on regardless and clearly had the pace to be out front despite the mud. I so have to say a huge thanks to Paul for sitting alongside me and all my sponsors for all their help this season.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what 2019 holds for us now.”
‘To bring the Micra to a class win is a very satisfying way to end the year’