Osian Pryce has two rallies left in his Prestone British Rally Championship season – and his aim is simple: to win both of them.
Next week’s penultimate round of the BRC takes crews to Londonderry/Derry for the John Mulholland Motors Ulster Rally.
It’s in these world-class stages that Pryce will have to show the kind of form which has carried him to a victory and three podiums the last three times he’s visited the event.
Pryce’s season had been building momentum beautifully – he left Belgium’s Ypres Rally leading the championship and looking forward to an opportunity to build that lead with a home run on the Nicky Grist Stages.
Controlling the event from the front and ready to bring his Alphera/Hills Ford-backed Fiesta R5 home with a big points cushion at the top of the BRC table, the car was stopped by a fuel pump which seized.
Pryce and co-driver Dale Furniss have put the disappointment of Wales out of their minds as they focus on the trip across the Irish Sea.
“There’s a lot riding on the Ulster,” said Pryce. “I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s make or break for this season, but it’s really not far off it!
“Basically, we have to win here and on the final round on the Isle of Man. And that’s fine, because that’s exactly what we’re aiming to do.”
Pryce has shown stunning speed, tenacity and consistency to lead the BRC in his first full year in a four-wheel drive car. But his biggest challenge lies ahead in the next two rounds.
“What happened on the Nicky Grist was gut-wrenching,” he said, “it’s something nobody had seen before.
“But you have to pick yourself up from there and go again. We’re 22 points off the lead, but we’ve still got a fighting chance of the title and we’re going to take it.
“The Ulster’s never a straightforward rally, but it’s one where I’ve gone well in the past and it’s an event which suits me.
“The weather can change the event in the blink of an eye and if you’re not on the right tyres when the rain comes or when it dries then it can be a struggle – getting those weather calls is absolutely vital for this rally.
“As we’re coming closer to the business end of the season, the competition is inevitably getting tighter. There are still a few drivers in with a shot at winning the championship and that really forces everybody on a little bit.
“There’s not going to be any time to try to bed into this one, it’s going to be absolutely flat-out from the start. The plan will be to go hard from the start and take a look at what’s going on after the first loop.
“Like I said, we’re out for a win this time. Second place isn’t really going to be much use to us now.”