Citroen DS3 domination on Bulldog Rally


Print this page   .Round two of the MSA British Rally Championship, the Bulldog Rally, marked the best ever result for Citroën in British rallying history. Young Welsh ace Tom Cave took a splendid overall victory in his DS3 R3, and the 1600 turbo charged rockets filled the following three places. All eight of Citroën DS3’s that started the event finished in the top twelve places! Citroën UK now lead the Manufacturers series after two rounds.

Rallying is a dramatic sport, and the dramas were even happening before the start in Welshpool, particularly for young Welsh man Tom Cave! The Davies Motorsport team had worked hard to finish his new DS3, and Tom was testing the Tuesday before the start when a freak mechanical failure in the steering caused the car to plunge off the road in 5th gear! “We landed on a jump, something broke and we plunged 50 yards through a bog, and landed on our side in 5 foot of water, before the car turned onto it wheels. It was a real mess with water everywhere, and I didn’t even know if we could be starting the rally at all.” With just 25 miles of testing before-hand, they had nevertheless arrived at a new set up. Frantic phone calls were made to hire a replacement DS3 and the French Auto Meca, run by Citroën rally legend Philippe Bugalski came up trumps. “We phoned them on Tuesday night and they had a car here for Friday morning, and Andy and the Davies team did a great job helping to run us on the event, and applying our test settings to the car.” It would prove to be a dream run for Tom and also very good for 2009 and 2010 British Rally Champion, Keith Cronin. After a deal to drive a Honda fell through the DGM Sport team’s second DS3 was readied at the eleventh hour for Keith to take the start. Leader for much of round one, Jarkko Nikara had a rebuilt engine in his DS3, and both Jonny Greer and James Grint were making their DS3 debuts.

With the cancellation of the two Friday night stages, stage three - Big Ray 1 was the first and it was Nikara fastest from his round one rival Mark Donnelly in his Clio. But Donnelly’s challenge ended against a tree just after the finish line of stage 2, and it was set to be a DS3 battle. Keith Cronin was an impressive third, despite his very limited mileage in the car, but it was Tom Cave who set the pace, fastest on the next test to leap into the lead. With a further fastest time on the famous Garheiniog stage he had a three second lead over Jarkko Nikara. “Our first stage wasn’t great. I still had Tuesday’s incident in the back of my mind,” commented Tom. “On stage two however it seemed to click again, and we got into a good rhythm. At least we got a setting on our brief test, and without that we wouldn’t have been on the pace, but the car felt very good, especially on the fast stuff where it was very stable. The harder we went the more planted it seemed to be, and with so much torque it drives almost like a four wheel drive out of the corners.” There was even more to come from Tom as on the Dyfi Main test he took ten seconds off his nearest rival, who at this stage was Keith Cronin. Keith had his own dramas, stopping to assist Alastair Fisher on stage 5, after the Fiesta caught fire. The resultant nominal stage time he felt cost him a little, but he was to charge in the late afternoon stages, closing the gap to just 3 seconds at the finish, but just unable to catch the flying Cave. However he was lucky to finish at all, arriving late after a fuel pump related failure on the final road section.

Indeed the event wasn’t the smoothest with frequent delays starting the stages, and the last loop being cancelled due to a fire on a road section, meaning a total of just 56 competitive miles. It was maybe just as well for Jarkko Nikara, who limped home in third after breaking a drive-shaft on the final stage. In fourth place was 19 year old Osian Pryce in his Davies Motorsport DS3, a result that leaves him in a fantastic joint second place in the British Rally Championship. However the Welsh youngster feels he’s more improvements to make. “We still have some work to do, as we have to make up about a second a mile in some places on the leaders. I think I started too cautiously and was braking too early on the opening stages, having to go on the throttle again before some corners. I was happier with the handling of the car, with the improvements that we made, and had no problems all day. Certainly it’s good for the championship, but for the next couple of events we need to aim and see if we can climb onto the podium.”

The first non Citroën was Elfyn Evans who had a great drive in his R2 class Fiesta, with Jonny Greer making his DS3 debut claiming sixth. Jonny was getting used to front wheel drive again, and a new co-driver in Damien Connolly, and aside from a spin and a dash-board read out issue had a trouble free day. Desi Henry in eighth wasn’t quite so lucky with a costly puncture on stage 5, and the Co.Antrim driver who claimed second place on round one couldn’t get into the groove during the day. Eleventh place was an impressive finish for James Grint, on his first event in a DS3, and with his relative lack of rally experience. Just 13 seconds behind him was welcome French visitor Vincent Dubert.

The day however very much belonged to Tom Cave and co-driver Craig Parry, scooping €6000 of Citroën Racing Trophy UK prize money for their first overall finish. “It’s a dream result, and I’ve been waiting on a result like this for a while. Everything seemed to click, and the car ran perfectly. It was a tough fought event. We knew Keith would get quicker in the afternoon, but we had enough to hold on. It’s probably my best ever result, particularly after the steering failure on Tuesday. It’s brilliant!” Keith Cronin’s second place awards him €3500 whilst Jarkko Nikara claims €1500 for third.

With Citroën UK moving into the lead in the manufacturer’s table and the DS3 R3 proving its speed, reliability and durability it’s a fantastic performance for the Citroën brand in this extreme competition. The next round of the MSA British Rally Championship is the Pirelli International Rally on the 27th and 28th April.

Results Bulldog Rally 2012- Round Two MSA British Rally Championship

1 Tom Cave/ Craig Parry  Citroën DS3 56 min 39s 2 Keith Cronin/Marshall Clarke Citroën DS3  +3s 3 Jarkko Nikara/ Petri Nikara Citroën DS3  +14.7s 4   Osian Pryce/ Iestyn Williams Citroën DS3 +49.4s 6 Jonny Greer/ Damien Connolly Citroën DS3  +1m17.9s 8 Desi Henry/ Niall Burns   Citroën DS3 +2m04.5s 11 James Grint/ Craig Drew  Citroën DS3    +2m39.3s 12 Vincent Dubert/Stephane Rey     Citroën DS3   +2m52.6s

Manufacturer Standings after Round Two

1 Citroën UK   71 points 2  Renault UK  61 points 3  Ford Motor Co  60 points

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