Pritchard heads BHRC to Rally North Wales

The 2016 Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship continues this Saturday (2 April) with round two, Rally North Wales. Another excellent historic field will tackle the glorious stages of the Dyfi forest complex in mid-Wales.The Roger Albert Clark Rally Motor Club promotes the MSA BHRC under a five-year contract and 2016 is the second year of that agreement. The calendar covers six gravel and two asphalt rallies, with a double-header on the Isle of Man in September to make nine rounds. The team at Special Stage will film all eight events and produce hour-long programmes to give the BHRC some of the best TV exposure in British rallying.Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke got their season off to a perfect start with victory on the opening round, the Red Kite Historic Stages in late February. On a day of strong winds, persistent rain and, at times, thick fog Pritchard and Clarke (Ford Escort Mk2) never put a wheel wrong and took maximum points to open their title defence in style.However, this was no easy win as Nick Elliott and Dave Price ran neck-and-neck for the lead despite their Escort Mk2 stalling on the opening stage. It was still very close for the lead until it happened again on the second run through Crychan and the engine refused to restart for around 15 seconds. While Pritchard could afford a measured approach in the final Caio stage, Elliott attacked to grab second place back from the impressive Joe Price and Chris Brooks (Escort Mk2). Elliott was the historic winner on the 2015 Rally North Wales and will be eager to repeat that result this weekend.Stanley Orr and Guy Weaver (Ford Escort Mk1) won a Category 2 battle that had raged all day. Category 1 was also settled on the final stage of the Red Kite as Bob and Dale Gibbons (Ford Cortina Mk2) emerged for victory when the chasing Bob Bean and Malcolm Smithson had an electrical failure stop their Lotus Cortina.While Pritchard/Clarke won the Holton Homes Category K, Elliott/Price won the RSR Historic Engineering Category 3 and immediately marked themselves as the two crews to beat for this year’s BHRC crown.Price turned in a cracking performance to show this he is now one of the BHRC pacesetters, but equally impressive was Irish ace Paul Barrett with Welsh co-driver Dai Roberts who drove their Pinto-powered Escort with big commitment to finish a tremendous class-winning fourth overall, well in touch with the top three. Ben Friend and Cliff Simmons will head the class D3 challenge on Barrett.Steve Bennett is getting ever closer to the head of the pack and, with M-Sport’s Ian Tullie on the notes, he took fifth overall on the final stage when a steering problem cost the Fiat 131 of Matthew Robinson and Sam Collis half a minute. Despite the late issue, the pace of the Fiat on its first BHRC event was impressive and Robinson will aim to capitalise on that pace on Rally North Wales.Only 20 seconds split the next four crews on the Red Kite and that battle will be rejoined on Rally North Wales. Simon Webster and Jez Rogers just beat Rudi Lancaster and George Gwynn, while Orr/Weaver took the Capital Construction Category 2 with ninth overall. Neil Williams and Peter James wrapped up the top 10 overall in their Escort Mk2.The Gibbons father and son took the Vintage Car Radiator Company Category 1 but it was set for a tight finish as heading for the second run through Caio, the gap to Bean/Smithson was only 11s. In class C2, a stand-out performance came from Adam Milner and Roy Jarvis who put their 1600cc Escort Mk1 into 13th overall on the driver’s first rally in Wales. Incredibly, they only had one stage free of a persistent misfire and could be even faster this weekend. Milner finished one place down on class C5 winners Simon Tysoe and Paul Morris who had a good day in their Escort Mk1.In Category 3, Chris Skill and Tom Jordan (Ford Escort Mk2) topped the 1600cc division despite suffering two punctures. Class D4 fell to Guy Anderson and new co-driver Steven Davey (Talbot Sunbeam Lotus) who had a good day as they got used to the new partnership.The new pairing of Phil Harris and Graham Wild (Mini Cooper) added to Harris’ remarkable run of class B2 wins with another victory despite tough conditions for the Mini and will aim for more of the same on Rally North Wales.The rally will be based in Dolgellau with the central service area at the Farmers’ Market. The first car will start at 9am on Saturday and return to the finish at around 2.30pm.Rally North Wales, which is backed by North Wales Rally Services, is organised by the Wolverhampton and South Staffs Car Club. For more details about the event please visit www.rallynorthwales.co.uk.