MITSUBISHI AND WILKS WIN BRITISH RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP FOR SECOND YEAR RUNNING
Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship
Guy Wilks claims second consecutive British Driver’s title
Mitsubishi Motors UK retains British Team’s title
Team overcomes perilous icy conditions to take top result
This year’s Wales Rally GB provided the perfect outcome for the Mitsubishi Motors UK Works Rally Team, when Guy Wilks became British Rally Champion for the second season in a row and Mitsubishi retained its British Team’s Championship crown.
Co-driven by Phil Pugh, Wilks drove a faultless rally, taking his third Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship win of the season in the process. Team mates Gwyndaf Evans and Gareth Roberts - who was partnering the experienced Welshman for the first time - also drove an excellent rally to ensure a two-car finish, which enabled Mitsubishi to achieve what it had set out to do since the start of the year: to win the Driver’s and Team’s titles.
The 15th and final round of this year’s World Rally Championship also hosted the last two rounds of the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship. Following the ceremonial start in Cardiff on Thursday evening, Friday’s eight stages in the forests of mid and south Wales formed round six of the BRC, whilst the following seven on Saturday and four on Sunday constituted round seven.
With bothers Mark and David Higgins on 78 points and Wilks on 76, following round five in Yorkshire, the scene was set for the battle to win the British Driver’s title – plus, with just a three points gap at the top of the table - the British Team’s title as well.
The sub-zero temperatures during the week leading up to the event meant that many of the forestry roads were covered with a layer of ice and the first of the BRC drivers to be caught out by the lack of grip was Mark Higgins, who went off the road in SS3, the second stage of the day and damaged his Subaru too badly to continue.
With hardly any improvement in the conditions, crews embarked on a second run of the two previous stages. Wilks was now in the zone and began to increase his lead in both the British and Production World Rally Championship standings. Evans was slowed when negotiating a ford in SS6, the water finding its way onto his car’s and he lost three minutes.
Following good runs through the final two stages, Wilks arrived for the overnight halt in Swansea 30 seconds ahead of Patrik Flodin in second and nearly a minute ahead of David Higgins in third, with Evans in fourth.
With his third victory of the season now in the bag, Wilks was a step closer to his second driver’s title and consequently Mitsubishi were on target to retain the team’s trophy. As it turned out, Mitsubishi’s position was improved for the first of Saturday’s seven stages. After his team had repaired the car - and re-starting under SuperRally regulations - Mark Higgins suffered a deja-vu moment and went off on the ice again, but this time it was terminal.
This immediately took the pressure off Wilks, who was now almost guaranteed his second successive British title. And then, on the very next stage, Mitsubishi’s retention of the team’s title also became more likely when David Higgins suffered a similar fate to that of his brother.
Wilks and Evans kept their nerve in the intermittently slippery conditions for the remainder of the event.
The Mitsubishi team were delighted when both cars crossed the finish line in Cardiff, confirming that Guy Wilks was British Champion Driver for the second time and Mitsubishi the British Team’s Champions for the third.
Guy Wilks “After the season all of us in the team have had it’s great to have come out on top for the second year running. It’s proved harder to defend the title than to win it for the first time as there’s the weight of expectation on your shoulders, which makes this result even sweeter. Everyone in the team pulled together to achieve the result this weekend and I have to admit that it’s fantastic to be a double British Champion.”
Gwyndaf Evans“I am so pleased for the team. Since I joined Mitsubishi in the middle of the year there was a massive job to do and I’m delighted that we’ve done it. The Rally GB is always a tough event but our task was made even more difficult because of the conditions, which makes the achievement even more satisfying.”
Paul Brigden – Team Principal“I am absolutely delighted with the result. It’s exactly what we set out to achieve at the start of the year. Although we’ve had to make some tough decisions during the season I believe that our actions have been vindicated by our performance this weekend. The whole team has worked very hard to make this happen and I have to thank them for such a fantastic effort.”
Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship results
1 Guy Wilks/Phil Pugh (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) 33:26.92 Patrik Flodin/Göran Bergsten (Subaru Impreza) 33:56.33 David Higgins/Ieuan Thomas (Subaru Impreza) 34:23.84 Gwyndaf Evans/Gareth Roberts (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) 37:29.15 Hugh Evans/Iestyn Williams (Subaru Impreza) 41:30.2
1 Patrik Flodin/Göran Bergsten (Subaru Impreza) 2:22:05.02 Guy Wilks/Phil Pugh (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) 2:24:42.13 Gwyndaf Evans/Gareth Roberts (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) 2:25:43.74 Jason Pritchard/George Gwynn (Citroen C2) 2:45:12.65 David Higgins/Ieuan Thomas (Subaru Impreza) 2:53:08.1
Final championship positions
1 Guy Wilks 962 Mark Higgins 883 David Higgins 804 Gwyndaf Evans 625 Jonathan Greer 616 James Wozencroft 537 Patrik Flodin 528= Jason Pritchard 488= Brian O’Mahoney 4810= Hugh Evans 4110= Andrew Hockridge 41
1 Mitsubishi Motors UK 2232 Team TQ.com 2013 Atlas TEG Sport 117 4 Revolution Wheels 107