This weekend’s Bulldog International Rally, round two of the MSA British Rally Championship, will see a record seven Citroën DS3 R3s, starting from Welshpool for this event that uses some of the classic Welsh forestry special stages, synonymous with Rally GB. Finish ace Jarkko Nikara heads the DS3 entry, with Desi Henry and Osian Pryce next up. Vincent Dubert is a welcome French visitor, whilst young Welsh driver Tom Cave is hoping to make his DS3 debut, along with Hereford based James Grint (brother of Harry Potter star, Rupert) and former Fiesta champion Jonny Greer.
It’s all go for the Citroen crews and it’s been all go for Jarkko Nikara’s team-Autosport Technology following their Rallye Sunseeker engine problems. With the engine lifted from Oreca in France last weekend, the work is on to complete the car and carry out a brief test before Saturday’s tough stages. “I am looking forward to the Welsh stages,” commented Jarkko. “The surface on the Sunseeker was more unique, whereas I have more experience of this kind of surface.” Naturally having battled for the lead of the first round for most of the event, Jarkko is one of the hot favorites for overall honors once more. Desi Henry was very much the man on the move on the afternoon stages of the Sunseeker, climbing to second overall on the final stage. The John McKillop run car has been ready well in advance and following a brief test, he is relishing the classic stages ahead, some of which are often used on Rally GB.
One man very excited about the event is 19 year old Osian Pryce. Based in Aberangell near Dolgellau this is very much his home rally, and he feels much happier since the Rallye Sunseeker with his DS3. “We competed in an event the weekend after the Sunseeker, but I didn’t learn as much as I would have liked, as I had a bad dose of food poisoning. However we went testing and completed almost 200 kilometres, and I tried a lot of different things with the car. I have to say I’m much happier with the car now, with the set up, and it feels much steadier and faster.” Osian simply cannot wait to get starting the event, despite the organisers announcing the cancellation of the two Friday night stages. “It’s a pity to lose them, because I would have liked to have had a go at them, but the stages on Saturday are some of the best in the country. The first three stages are quite close to my house and I have plenty of great memories watching them as a kid, so I can’t wait to drive them. There are some great driving roads. Gartheiniog for example is a real classic.”
Another young Welsh driver is Tom Cave. The 2011 BTRDA Production Cup Champion, is switching back to front wheel drive, having also driven S2000 cars in the past, and he will be one to watch. On the Rallye Sunseeker he was competitive in his front wheel drive Fiesta, but the DS3 will be another step up again, and Tom is a former class winner on Rally GB which covers a lot of this terrain. Frenchman Vincent Dubert is back in the UK after successfully completing the Trackrod last season. Although not expected to mix it at the front he is aiming for a top ten finish. Aiming for a good finish is Hereford’s James Grint. The 21 year old, originally from Harlow in Essex, is the brother of Harry Potter film star, Rupert, who is also a rally fan. James has been competing in the BTRDA Gold Star series in a Mitsubishi Evo, and before that built himself a MK1 Escort as a project. He also competed in BMX and down-hill mountain biking, but this weekend he has to learn the 210 horse power DS3 on the Welsh forest tracks. He is testing this week at the Higgins Rally-school, run by former British Champions Mark and David Higgins.
Finally seeded near the end of the list but likely to be reseeded is Carryduff’s Jonny Greer in the DGM Sport DS3 R3. Having just taken delivery of the car, a test at Sweet Lamb is planned just before the event. “I haven’t got a chance to drive the car as yet, but it looks well put together by Citroen Racing.” Jonny finished third in the British Championship last season in an S2000 Skoda Fabia, and previously spent a couple of seasons in an Evo 9. “It’s been a while since I’ve driven front wheel drive, so I will have to adapt back to that. I have a new co-driver for the weekend, Damien Connolly too, so we really are out to see where we are, and have no real expectations for the weekend. I am certainly looking forward to it. They are some of the best stages in Britain, and a good place to learn about the car and the set ups.”
Citroën UK are currently in second place in the manufacturer’s table but with this strong entry of DS3’s that could further improve this weekend over the nine gravel stages which also include the Dyfi and Dyfnant tests.
Results Rallye Sunseeker 2012- Round One MSA British Rally Championship
1 Mark Donnelly/ Dai Roberts Renault Clio 1hr 7 min 06 s 2 Desi Henry/ Niall Burns Citroën DS3 +1min49.5 3 Elfyn Evans/ Andrew Edwards Ford Fiesta +1min49.7 4 Osian Pryce/ Iestyn Williams Citroën DS3 +2min22.4 5 Peter Taylor/ Andrew Roughead Renault Clio +2min23.1
Manufacturer Standings after Round One
1 Renault UK 34 points 2 Citroën UK 33 points 3 Ford Motor Co 29 points