By Paul Evans
Jason Pritchard will take his North Road Garage Ford Focus RS WRC05 to Epynt for the very first time, when he contests this Sunday’s Old Forge Garage Mewla Rally.
The 30-year old Builth Wells driver knows the rollercoaster military roads well, having contested many events on the ranges above Sennybridge in his Escort RS1800 and Fiesta S2000.
He also knows the Focus WRC well – although up until this year he’s only made one annual appearance in the car, winning the Manx National Rally four times (2014, ’15, ’16 and ‘18) and never failing to finish outside the top three in six starts.
With just two rounds remaining, Pritchard is making a push for the 2018 Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally Championship title – and knowing that his Escort Mk2 and Fiesta S2000 are no real match for the more powerful four-wheel drive opposition, he has decided to bring out the Focus WRC again.
Co-driven by Phil Clarke, Pritchard is currently third in the drivers’ standings, and already has a low score to drop, thanks to clutch problems with his S2000 on the Rally van Wervik in Belgium. As only the best five scores from six rallies count, this makes him one of the favourites for title success.
“It’ll be different for sure using the Focus WRC on Epynt,” says Pritchard. “Hopefully we’ll have a cleaner run than we had last time out in Northern Ireland. We had the pace there, but with spins and a puncture you’ll never gain all that time back.
“I’ll just aim to do my own thing on Epynt and hopefully have a good day. It’s certainly nice that we haven’t got far to travel for the start of this rally!”
The Asphalt Rally Championship is currently being led by Wayne Sisson, who is co-driven by Max Freeman from Tywyn, in a Mitsubishi Evo. They have a total of 101 points, but have scored well on all four events and face dropping a big score of 24 points. Daniel Harper/Chris Campbell (John Cooper Works Mini WRC) and Pritchard/Clarke are second and third with 85 and 82 points respectively, with a zero and one point score to drop.
Based at the Royal Welsh Showground in Llanelwedd, this Sunday’s Epynt MC-organised Old Forge Garage Mewla Rally contains 13 special stages, totalling 75 stage miles.
Old Forge Garage Mewla Rally – top 10 seeds
1. Damian Cole/Jamie Edwards (Ford Fiesta WRC)
2. Jason Pritchard/Phil Clarke (Ford Focus WRC)
3. Daniel Harper/Chris Campbell (MINI JCW WRC)
4. Melvyn Evans/Mark Glennerster (Hyundai i20 R5)
5. Rob Tout/Peredur Davies (Mitsubishi Evo)
6. Wayne Sisson/Max Freeman (Mitsubishi Evo)
7. Phil Turner/Simon Anthony (Mitsubishi Evo)
8. Richard Merriman/Kath Curzon (Darrian T90)
10. Raymond Horton/Paul Williams (Darrian GTR+)
12. Tony Rees/Geraint Thomas (Darrian GTR+)