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Ogier's Sardinian Victory with Toyota

Reigning WRC champion Sébastien Ogier headed a Toyota 1-2 finish on Rally Italia Sardegna. The Mediterranean island's treacherous rock-strewn gravel roads provided the Frenchman's third win of the season - his 52nd career win - some 46.0sec clear of Elfyn Evans, thus extending his championship lead to 11 points after five of the 12 events.
As championship leader, it was reckoned that Ogier could not win this fifth round as he started first on Friday's opening leg, ploughing a line through loose gravel, which became progressively cleaner and offered more grip with the passage of each car. Against all predictions, the Frenchman ended the day just over half a minute adrift of Ott Tänak and Hyundai Motorsport team-mate Dani Sordo.
On Saturday in improved conditions, Ogier recorded a series of fastest times and when Tänak ripped a rear wheel from his i20 World Rally Car after hitting a rock, and Sordo rolled, Ogier eased through Sunday's finale.
Evans initially trailed by more than a minute after the first leg but set-up changes improved the Welshman's feeling with his car and a handful of stage wins propelled him up the order to increase Toyota's manufacturers' series lead over Hyundai to 49 points. There was a late scare however when his car spluttered to a halt after the same water splash that troubled Ogier and he was stationery for almost 20 nail-biting seconds before the engine restarted.
Third place for Thierry Neuville, a further 19.2sec behind, was poor consolation for Hyundai. The Belgian spent all weekend fine-tuning his i20's set-up but none of the changes delivered the pace to match the Toyota twins ahead. Such was the level of attrition that fourth-placed Takamoto Katsuta was the only other top-level driver to avoid retirement. The Japanese pilot matched his career-best finish from the previous round in Portugal.
Fifth went to WRC2 winner Jari Huttunen. The Finn relegated Mads Østberg when the Norwegian punctured on Sunday's second stage and held off a determined charge through the final two tests to end 7.5sec ahead.
WRC3 winner Yohan Rossel finished seventh with Pepe López and Jan Solans next up. Marco Bulacia completed the leaderboard despite a final day roll.
The championship reaches its midpoint with a return to Africa for the first time since 2002. The Safari Rally Kenya is based in Naivasha on 24 - 27 June.

6th June, 2021

BRC 2021 - Round One To Moffett

After an enforced 18-month break, the 2021 British Rally Championship restarted with a bang in Cheshire when Irishman Sam Moffett won the opening round on Bank Holiday Monday 31 May, at the Neil Howard Stages. Throughout the day Moffett and co-driver Keith Moriarty had steadily moved their Ford Fiesta Rally2 up the leader board to secure their maiden BRC victory by a slender one-second margin over Rhys Yates/James Morgan, who equaled their best BRC result. All day the leaders were hounded by a gaggle of rapid British Championship crews with Osian Pryce/Noel O'Sullivan taking their Volkswagen Polo to the final podium spot.

Despite being in fifth place on the opening stage and having no competitive experience in the Pirelli-shod Fiesta Rally2, Moffett's pace increased across the event's eight stages to secure second after the sixth timed run. A solid run on the seventh stage saw him take the lead, holding off Yates' fastest final stage charge to secure the win by just one second.

The final result was not clear-cut however, as the lead changed hands several times over the course of the 56-mile event. Second place man Yates would lead after SS6, only to lose it on the seventh to eventually take runner-up spot on his BRC return in the Michelin-backed Fiesta. Volkswagen Polo debutant Pryce had a strong start to his day in second, before dropping out of the podium positions mid-point through but making it back into third. Series newcomers, Frank Bird/Jack Morton, had set a blistering pace to lead much of the event, before being excluded on a technical infringement.

The rally saw almost 45 British Rally Championship contenders take the start and the competition was first-class throughout the leaderboard and a sizeable crowd witnessed the action around Oulton Park's imaginative rally layout over the course of the day. Twice BRC champion Matt Edwards featuring strongly throughout but a ten-second penalty saw the Volkswagen Polo ace eventually finish fourth with Darren Garrod in the co-driver's seat.

Desi Henry/Dale Furniss opened their BRC account with an impressive fifth place in their Hyundai i20 as Seb Perez/Gary McElhinney pulled themselves back from outside the top ten, to take sixth in their M-Sport Fiesta Rally2. The Junior BRC battle was a little more straightforward but still provided plenty of action for the fans to enjoy. Hunting down the impressive FIA World Rally Championship prize drive opportunity for the series victor was Junior WRC contenders William Creighton/Liam Regan.

The National Rally Champion title-fight fielded another impressive entry, with Garry Jennings/Rory Kennedy making a BRC return on fine form in a right-hand-drive Ford Fiesta, leading the way until a puncture on SS6 put paid to a perfect season start. Victory went to Thomas Preston/Carl Williamson in the fire-breathing Ford Fiesta WRC, with Charles Payne/Aled Edwards and Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson taking second and third respectively in similar machines.

Next, the series switches to gravel and the daunting Welsh forest stages for the Nicky Grist Stages in July and it looks like an open and competitive 2021 championship with at least 6 crews capable of taking the title - speed and consistency will be the key.
Motorsport UK British Rally Championship Points After Round 1
1st. Sam Moffett 25 / Keith Moriarty 25
2nd. Rhys Yates 22J / James Morgan 18
3rd. Osian Pryce 15 / Noel O'Sullivan 15
4th. Matt Edwards 12 / Darren Garrod 12
5th. Desi Henry 10 / Dale Furniss 10
6th. Seb Perez 9J / Gary McElhinney 8
7th. Josh Moffett 6 / Andy Hayes 6
8th. Oliver Mellors 4 / Max Freeman 4
9th. Joseph McGonigle 2 / Ciaran Geaney 2
10th. James Wilson 1 / Arthur Kierans 1

5th June, 2021

Quality & Quantity for BRC Round 1

Despite the affects of the ongoing pandemic continuing to disrupt sport, one of the largest Motorsport UK British Rally Championship entries in recent times will head for the picturesque Oulton Park this Bank Holiday Monday for the opening round of the 2021 season, the Neil Howard Stages in assoc. with Graham Coffey & Co. Solicitors (31 May).

The packed entry list contains over 45 British Rally Championship contenders, eager to open their account at this exciting new addition to the BRC tour, held entirely on a race circuit for the first time in its 63 year history. No less than 15 top-flight BRC1 crews in a variety of Rally2 machinery will line-up to do battle over the 56-mile - eight-stage event, with a further 13 Motorsport UK National Rally Champion title contenders throwing their hat into the ring for glory on the season starter.

Added to the four-wheel-drive elite is an impressive line-up of ultra-rapid Junior and Academy drivers, with a chance of winning a prize drive in a round of the 2022 FIA World Rally Championship at the wheel of a Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing i20 N Rally2.

Leading the BRC field away will be two-time British Rally Champion Matt Edwards, aiming to make history by taking a third title in a row, a feat never achieved in the championships history. Co-driven by Darren Garrod, the pairing have swapped their usual Ford marque for a Volkswagen Polo GTi in their 2021 campaign. Among their strong competition, Rhys Yates returns to the BRC in his familiar Ford Fiesta Rally2, heading up a two-car M-Sport team, and fresh from a win at Snetterton earlier this month. The Chesterfield ace is eager to secure his maiden BRC event win and outright title and will be ably assisted in the co-drivers seat by James Morgan. Teammates and BRC newcomers Seb Perez and Gary McElhinney also pilot an M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally2 example.

Series newcomer Frank Bird will dovetail his GT World Challenge commitments with a BRC assault. Driving a Fiesta Rally2, his and co-driver Jack Morton's circuit rally experience will put them in good stead for the season opener. Welshman Osian Pryce is arguably one of the most experienced BRC competitors on the tour and makes his bid for glory in a Volkswagen Polo GTi. With Noel O'Sullivan on the notes, the pairing will be looking for that elusive BRC silverware this season.

Josh Moffett and Andy Hayes lead a hugely impressive Irish contingent, all making the trip to this year's BRC with the aim of taking the prestigious trophy back across the Irish Sea. Josh pilots a Hyundai i20 R5 whilst brother Sam and co-driver Keith Moriarty opt for the Ford Fiesta Rally2 for their campaign. Garry Jennings makes his first foray into the BRC since the front-wheel-drive era in 2003 and heads up the National Rally Champion charge in his right-hand-drive Fiesta. Making the switch from his usual WRC machinery, Jennings has elected to - come to the BRC for the craic- but will undoubtedly be gunning for the National title this season.

Ollie Mellors and Max Freeman make a welcome return to the series, bringing the impressive Proton Iriz after a solid start to their 2020 campaign before COVID halted proceedings. Mellors has plenty of circuit experience in the Iriz but such is the quality of the entry, will wear number 11 on the door of the Malaysian machine. Returnee's to the series in BRC1 include Desi and Niall Henry, James Wilson and Joe McGonigle with the WRC cars represented by Stephen Petch and Thomas Preston in the National category.

Junior British Rally Championship contenders battle for WRC prize drive

Close battles and explosive stage action are guaranteed in the Junior British Rally Championship, with 2021 seeing an impressive line-up of eager youngsters all aiming for the impressive WRC prize drive opportunity. Two-time Junior BRC runner up and Junior World Rally Championship contender William Creighton heads to Oulton fresh from an impressive run at WRC Portugal last weekend. Driving a Fiesta Rally4, the Moira man and co-driver Liam Regan are one of the most experienced in the category, but face stiff opposition from a whopping 16 other future stars.

Scotland's Finlay Retson was one of the first drivers in the UK to acquire a Rally4 Fiesta and will be putting that seat time and experience to good use with Rhys Stoneman alongside after a season of highs and lows in 2019. Ruari Bell is another Junior WRC driver to return to the BRC and his experience on the world tour puts him well upfront of the battle to top honours. New co-driver Gareth Parry sits alongside in the similar Fiesta.

Irishman David Kelly makes his Junior BRC return after an impressive performance in the category at last year's Cambrian Rally, securing a podium spot on the gravel in Wales. Dean O'Sullivan occupies the right-hand seat this season. Fellow Emerald Isle driver Brian Brady also makes a BRC return in similar machinery with Eamonn Creedon on the notes. Like Kelly, Brady was present at last year's Cambrian but suffered an off during the day and will aim to re-kindle the pace he had before retiring.

Eddie Lewis and Eammon Kelly also bring Fiesta Rally4 machinery to the event whilst Kyle White makes his BRC debut in the normally aspirated and older specification Peugeot 208. A dark horse in the proceedings, White and co-driver Sean Topping could well embarrass the more powerful, latest generation runners.

The Academy Trophy caters for those under 25 in the older specification front-wheel-drive categories with limited BRC experience and offers a prize fund of £6,000 in free entries to the 2022 Junior BRC for the winner. Fraser Anderson makes his British Championship debut in a Fiesta whilst Jonnie Mulholland makes a very welcome return to the series after tackling the Cadet pre-cursor in 2018.

Other championship contenders include Stuart McLaren's Historic Opel Kadett, Donnie MacDonald returns in his Mitsubishi Evo IX, whilst two-time National Cup winners John Morrison and Peter Carstairs bring their new Fiesta to the series.

You can follow the event throughout the day with news, updates and gossip from the service area, broadcast across the BRC social channels.

Keep tabs on all the latest BRC developments by visiting:
www.britishrallychampionship.com
or by following on social media: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using #BRC.

28th May, 2021

BRC 2021 - Round 1 Oulton Park

In a first for the British Rally Championship, the Neil Howard Stages will host the opening round of the series with a one-day blast across the asphalt perimeter roads and main circuit confines of Oulton Park Circuit. A full entry, including some of the best drivers currently outside the WRC, has been received for the landmark event at the impressive MSV owned Cheshire race track which played host to the spectator super-special stage of Wales Rally GB 2019. This occasion provided a unique and challenging backdrop for the world's best rally drivers and now the BRC will utilise the facility as the asphalt opener to the 2021 season.

The venue's tight in-field tracks, coupled with super-fast circuit layout will favour the brave as gravel traps and frictionless grass outer areas will be ready to catch the unwary. Expect an action packed day and a tightly-packed format.

28th May, 2021

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