Jason Pritchard’s Quest For RAC Rally Victory Continues After Another Podium Finish

Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke fought back on the final day to finish third on the RAC Rally. Pic JJP Media.

Jason Pritchard’s Quest For RAC Rally Victory Continues After Another Podium Finish

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By Paul Evans

Jason Pritchard’s quest to win the Roger Albert Clark Rally continues after he finished third on Britain’s longest event.

Having led the bi-annual, five day, 350 stage mile event before and having finished second in 2019, the RAC is the one rally that the triple British Historic and Protyre Asphalt rally champion wants to win more than most.

Unfortunately, Pritchard and co-driver Phil Clarke didn’t have the most trouble-free run in his Scott Williams Motorsport-built North Road Garage/Trailhead Get Jerky Ford Escort RS1800 Mk2.

Having been second fastest through the opening stage, a brake issue saw him half spin twice in SS2 and put him into a ditch on SS5 – dropping the Builth Wells man to fifth.

Osian Pryce and Rhodri Evans Osian Pryce and Rhodri Evans led the RAC Rally after day one, but retired. Pic JJP Media.

Having battled his way back up to third, the penultimate day wasn’t kind to Pritchard, as he picked up a puncture in SS23 and SS24 – forcing him to stop both times and replace it.

Having dropped to sixth place, Pritchard mounted a magnificent comeback on the final day to reclaim third position.

“We had a clean run on the final day, and we’re amazed to finish on the podium with all the incidents we’ve had over the five days,” said Pritchard.

“We’ll be back in 2025 for another go.” Dyfrig James/Emyr Jones had a fantastic run to fourth in their Ford Escort Mk2.

The west Wales crew started off cautiously and came from 17th after the opening stage to work their way up the leaderboard to score a magnificent result.

As for the other Welsh competitors, Gavin Edwards/Caron Tomlinson finished a fantastic 12th overall in their MSL Motorsport Escort Mk2.

Gavin Edwards and Caron Tomlinson Gavin Edwards and Caron Tomlinson had a great run to 12th in their Escort Mk2. Pic JJP Media

A visit to a ditch and a puncture had seen them complete the penultimate day in 16th, but a remarkable run through the final day shot them up the leaderboard.

Craig Jones/Ian Taylor had to get through the opening day with no starter motor, meaning that they had to keep their Ford Escort RS2000 Mk1 running or get it bump started.

They had a brilliant run after that, finishing 31st overall and fourth in class. Remy Thomissen/Christopher Davies had to restart after hitting problems in Scotland, and under SuperRally rules finished 56th overall.

Alan Jones co-drove Kenyan driver Frank Tundo to 65th overall and second in class in a Triumph TR7 V8.

Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship class W9 champions Lyn Davies/Aled Richards finished 78th overall and second in class in their Escort RS1800 Mk2.

Ryland James co-drove for Chris Cleghorn (who was contesting his first gravel rally) in a Wales Motorsport-built Escort RS1800 and finished 79th overall – just 41 seconds behind Davies/Richards after over two hours of competition.

Osian Pryce led the event after the opening day in Wales, but ominous smoke soon began to appear from his RallyXtreme Ford Escort Mk2.

Oil was leaking onto the exhaust and while the 2022 British rally champion was able to keep the car going until he’d reached the Scottish stages, Pryce and co-driver Rhodri Evans were forced to park up in SS17.

British Historic Rally champions Roger Chilman/Patrick Walsh retired their Escort Mk2 on the opening stage. Gareth James/Daniel Petrie were ninth overall when carburettor problems forced their Escort Mk2 out on day two.

Dai Roberts, who was co-driving for Belgian driver Stefaan Stouf, retired their Escort RS16000 Mk1 on SS10 – while Brynmor Pierce, who was co-driving for Top Gear’s Chris Harris, were forced to park their Tuthill Porsche 911 with mechanical problems three stages later.

Neal James/Kevin Jones retired their Escort with engine failure on SS24. The same stage also ended Jamie Edwards’s run.

The Wrexham ace was co-driving for Kevin Procter and they were going well until they crashed their Ford Sapphire Cosworth 4×4 into one of the many unforgiving Kielder forest ditches.

There was heartbreak too for Ieuan Evans/Dafydd Evans. The Spencer Sport crew were eighth overall (on the driver’s second gravel rally) when something broke on SS24, sending their Escort RS1800 Mk2 off the road and into a ditch.

The event was won by Irish crew Marty McCormack/Barney Mitchell in an Escort Mk2.

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