By Paul Evans
Builth Wells rally ace Jason Pritchard aims to celebrate his 30th birthday on Friday by extending his lead in the Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally Championship, as he takes a six point advantage at the top of the drivers’ standing into this weekend’s Rally van Wervik in Belgium.
Co-driven by Phil Clarke, Pritchard will contest the event in his North Road Garage Ford Fiesta S2000.
However, his rallying record in Belgium isn’t too good. It’s pretty bad in fact. He’s never finished an event over there, while his last outing ended in a crash on the 2011 Ypres Rally and a visit to the local hospital.
“The last time I rallied in Belgium I managed to break a wrist and collarbone in an accident,” said Pritchard. “We hit some oil and that put us off into a ditch – it was the second pass of the stage too, so we must have been on a different line the first time and missed it.
“It’s good to be going back to Belgium leading the Asphalt Championship, but it won’t be easy in the Fiesta S2000 against R5 and World Rally Cars. But the stages are different and a good challenge and the locals always make you feel very welcome, so I’m looking forward to it.”
One of Pritchard’s main rivals for maximum points will be Abergavenny’s Damian Cole. He hasn’t had the best of times recently with his Get Connected Ford Fiesta WRC, with handling problems forcing him out of the Manx National Rally. Seventh in the series and with a score dropped and everything to play for, van Wervik is an important event for the six-time MSA Asphalt Rally Champion – as he and co-driver Jamie Edwards (Wrexham) aim to get their title challenge back on track.
Swansea’s Phil Turner is the Asphalt Championship’s top placed two-wheel drive competitor. He and co-driver Ian Meakin (Pontypridd) lead their class after two maximum scores and are in an impressive third place overall in their usually sideways Toovey Race Engines/ST Motorsport-backed Escort Mk2.
The 44th running of Rally of Wervik takes place on Saturday (9 June) and covers a total of 60 stage miles on the smooth and fast asphalt roads of West Flanders.