Drive Dmack’s Elfyn Evans and Craig Parry claim the 2016 MSA British Rally Championship on the Ulster Rally
Dmack drivers Elfyn Evans and Craig Parry were crowned 2016 MSA British Rally champions after sealing their fourth overall victory on a difficult Ulster Rally. It was the Welsh pair’s fourth overall rally win from five finishes, moving them into an unbeatable position in the series with one round still remaining.
Evans, from Dolgellau in mid-Wales, followed in the footsteps of his father Gwyndaf – who won the British Rally Championship exactly 20 years ago. Using Dmack’s range of recently launched tarmac rally tyres, he and Parry finished over a minute ahead of the competition after winning half of the 14 demanding special stages. Dmack described the championship victory as the highlight of its season, having shod winners on both gravel and tarmac against opposition from three other tyre manufacturers.
Based in Londonderry, the Ulster Rally took in a range of dirty and slippery country rounds and mountain passes. But the mixed and constantly changing weather conditions meant that the road conditions ranged from dry to full wet with gravel and mud making them treacherously slippery.
The complete range of Dmack options – wets, extra soft, soft and medium compound tyres – was used across the weekend to tackle the tough stages. Evans mastered conditions better than most and held a slim 4.5 second lead after the opening day’s six stages south of the host town. He and Parry then stepped up the pace in their Autotek-run Ford Fiesta R5 and held a 50-second advantage going into the final loop of three stages. They cruised through the abrasive mountain tests to take a commanding victory and seal a sensational British title for Dmack.
Team-mates Matt Edwards and Will Rogers had a solid debut in a similar Fiesta R5 after sealing the BRC2 title on the previous event. There was a popular victory for Irish crew Rob Duggan and Ger Conway who took the Dmack Junior BRC title in their Vauxhall Motorsport Adam. They are handed a WRC scholarship into the Drive Dmack Fiesta Trophy next season.
Elfyn Evans said: “It feels really good to win the BRC title in style with one round still remaining but it was a difficult event and hard to concentrate on the job in hand. The rally was really tough, probably the hardest of the season with the weather changing all the time. To win the rally and the championship is very special, especially as it was 20 years since my father was champion.”
Glenn Patterson, Dmack British Rally Team manager, said: “Winning the championship is certainly the highlight of a strong season after a number of unbeatable performances from Elfyn and Craig. This rally was difficult, unpredictable and a huge challenge but we made the right choices and the full suite of tyres worked remarkably well. Taking the victory here was certainly a real team effort.”
Pirelli runners claim next 4 positions
Pirelli claimed much of the silverware on offer on a challenging Ulster Rally. Heavy rain and changeable conditions on both days of competition made for slippery stages and difficult tyre choices on the asphalt event, with Pirelli’s N3 rain tyre used in addition to the RK range of asphalt tyres. While it proved difficult to select the more favourable option, Pirelli said its products’ adaptability meant the tyres delivered good performance even when the choice was not optimal. The firm celebrated a double podium and four of the top five places in the overall standings, as well as further success in the respective championships.
Taking second overall on home ground, Alastair Fisher also scored the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship win in his Ford Fiesta R5. Jonny Greer, Keith Cronin and Josh Moffett made it an all-Pirelli top four in the ITRC, where Fisher and Cronin will battle for the title on the final round in October.
With Fisher not registered for the BRC, Greer claimed his second runner-up position of the season in his Citroen DS3 R5, matching his result from the championship’s previous visit to his native Northern Ireland on the Circuit of Ireland in April. David Bogie also repeated his Circuit result of third in his Skoda Fabia R5. Three-time British champion Cronin was fighting for the overall win when he was forced into a gearbox change on his Citroen at mid-day service on the final day, with a penalty relegating him to fifth overall.
Pirelli drivers won half of the event’s 14 stages, with two of them going to Swede Fredrik Ahlin, who displayed great speed on his less favoured surface even though a strong result escaped him. Still, he remains in the fight for the runner-up position in the championship along with Greer, Moffett and Bogie heading to the final round, the Rally Isle of Man on September 15-17.
Matthew Corby, Pirelli UK Motorsport operations manager, said: “The Ulster Rally was one of the toughest this year. The weather conditions made it very hard for the drivers to choose the right tyres, but the wide range offered by Pirelli helped them in this regard. Furthermore, our tyres are designed to perform well even when the conditions change. This meant our drivers were always at or close to the top of the times, and occupied five of the six final positions on what was an attritional event.”