Damian Cole’s attempt at taking a seventh Asphalt Championship title is on target. Pic by Russ Otway.

Series Leader Cole Now Aims To Close In On Epynt Record

By Paul Evans

Damian Cole has extended his lead in the Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship to 32 points, after a fantastic drive on the Carryduff Forklift Down Rally.

The Abergavenny driver started a little too cautiously on a very wet and slippery opening stage, but after that he flew over the fast and bumpy closed country lanes of Northern Ireland in his Get Connected/Energizer-backed Ford Fiesta WRC.

Co-driven by Paul Spooner, Cole couldn’t quite regain all the time he’d lost on the first stage to John Stone (Fiesta WRC), but second place points strengthens his title challenge.

If Cole, a six time Asphalt champion, wins the remaining two rounds – the next of which is the Old Forge Garage Mewla Rally (Sunday 25 August) on Epynt – and defending Asphalt series champion Jason Pritchard (who missed last weekend’s event because of family commitments) finishes second both times in his North Road Garage-supported Ford Focus WRC, then the destiny of this year’s title will be decided on a tiebreak between the two.

“It was a shame I was so poor on the opening stage, I don’t know what happened but it was a terrible stage time,” said Cole after the Down Rally. “We did well from stage two onwards, but we just couldn’t get back the time that John [Stone] took out of us on the opening stage, and ultimately that’s what cost us maximum points. Looking at the Asphalt Championship, Jason [Pritchard] has to finish both the remaining events, so there is a bit of pressure on him, and all we can do now is go out and try to win the Mewla Rally and take the battle for the title down to the final round on the Cheviot.”

Cole will be back in rally action this Sunday, aiming for an incredible eighth win – and a sixth win in as many years – on the Harry Flatters Rally. If successful, it will be his 22nd rally victory on Epynt, putting him within one win of John Price’s record of 23 wins over the famous Mid-Wales military range.

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