By Paul Evans
Having finished runner-up in the British Rally Championship three times, and led the series many more times than that, Osian Pryce says he’s done with finishing second and is aiming for nothing less than the title this year.
Runner-up in 2013 and ’14, Pryce led the BRC at half distance in 2017 before mechanical failure on the final two rounds dropped him to fifth.
Since that disappointment, his first full season back in the BRC was 2021 and once again Pryce was unlucky.
Having scored one win, three seconds and two thirds in the first six rallies of 2021, Pryce led the drivers’ standings going into the seventh and final round.
However, with two high podium scores to drop, victory on the Ulster Rally would only net Pryce a handful of extra points.
With a zero and another low score to drop, arch rival Matt Edwards could score big.
Pryce had to push hard and hope Edwards finished down the order.
But Pryce’s title challenge ended in a field while he was battling for the rally win with Edwards – so the title went up to Colwyn Bay for the third time, rather than to Machynleth for the first time.
But this year the stars might just be aligning themselves in Pryce’s favour.
He returns in the same Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 prepared and run by Melvyn Evans Motorsport, the defending BRC teams’ champions.
He’s running on the same Michelin tyres and has Irish co-driver Noel O’Sullivan alongside – both of which were new to Pryce in 2021.
And that experience and set-up data carrying forward will undoubtedly be a big help with this year.
Pryce will also celebrate his 100th rally start on this year’s Nicky Grist Stages, which starts from Builth Wells on July 9.
The Get Connected Rali Bae Ceredigion (3/4 September) and Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally (29 October) are also local rounds and two events that Pryce has won – the Aberystwyth-based closed road rally in 2019 and the Llandudno-based forestry rally in 2021.
In a rallying career that began in 2009 – there aren’t many UK rallies that Pryce hasn’t contested – although one is the opening round of the BRC, this weekend’s Corbeau Seats Rally Tendring & Clacton (23/24 April) is an event he’s looking forward to. It’s also one he knows he must make a strong start on.
“I’m looking forward to this year’s British Rally Championship, especially the Nicky Grist Stages, which will be my 100th rally start, and the Rali Bae and Cambrian, both of which I have won,” says Pryce.
“I’d like to think that we have a very good chance of winning the title this year. The plan isn’t to finish second again, that’s for sure – I’ve done that too many times already!
“Everything worked well last year, so I wanted to keep everything the same. 2021 was my first full BRC programme since 2017, so I feel it’s important to maintain continuity going into this season.
Great and Honest article by @DirtFishRally highlighting the key part of the puzzle. Season budget ! Im 12 years into my career, and many achievements but the sponsorship struggle is still the same 😬 https://t.co/Bvfzfm8nbu
— Osian PRYCE 🏴 (@OsianPryce) January 5, 2022
“We’ll have the same great bunch of lads from Melvyn Evans Motorsport working on the car, Noel [O’Sullivan] and I get on extremely well and I’m delighted he has agreed to come back and co-drive, and we’ll carry forward all the data and experience we gained last year with the Polo and Michelin tyres.
“I’ve never done Clacton before, but it’s always nice to contest new rallies in different parts of the country and I’m looking forward to it. I don’t think many of the BRC drivers will have done that event either, so we’ll all be starting the season on a level playing field.
“Having finished third on the opening two rounds last year, I’ll be aiming for a better start to the series this time. It’s important for us to start well, put everything we learned last year to good use and not give any points away.”
“I must thank all my sponsors for their continued support, because without them none of this would be possible.
“We had some great results in the BRC last year and finished runner-up. I want to go one better this year – not just for myself, but for Noel and all the people who are supporting me.”
For his 2022 BRC campaign, Pryce will be supported by Demon Tweeks, Bell Racing helmets, OMP race suits, Liqui Moly (oils, lubricants and additives), LM Performance (Liqui Moly distributors), DL Jones Pontrobert Ltd (coach and taxi hire), Hills Campervans (campervan sales and hire), MotoFit (performance training), Carbon Positive Motorsport and his own family-run specialist building firm G+M Pryce.
Other Welsh drivers contesting this year’s British Rally Championship include Jason Pritchard (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5), James Williams (Hyundai i20 R5), Craig Jones (Ford Fiesta R5), Williams Mains (Vauxhall Nova) and Andy Davies (Ford Fiesta R5) while Ioan Lloyd will make his Junior BRC debut in a Peugeot Sport 208 Rally4.
This weekend’s Clacton-on-Sea event starts with two stages on Saturday evening and finishes on Sunday evening after a further 12 stages have been completed.