Osian Pryce wins Tendring & Clacton Rally

Driving a Michelin shod Volkswagen Polo GTi for a second successive season, Osian Pryce, and co-driver Noel O`Sullivan fought with four-time BRC champion Keith Cronin over the opening two loops of stages before overhauling the Irishman to take the BRC maximum points haul in sensational style. It was the 2017 BRC champ Cronin who took the second spot in the Hankook backed Polo with James Williams/Dai Roberts rounding out the podium in their Hyundai i20 after a confidence-boosting weekend on the Corbeau Seats Tendring & Clacton Rally 23/24 April.

Pryce gave himself plenty of work to do after the opening two stages of the event on Saturday night, sitting fourth overall and two seconds off Cronin's pace as crews blasted down the Clacton sea front under the gaze of thousands of eager holiday makers at the popular seaside resort.

The 'real' rally got underway Sunday morning and with twelve short, sharp stages, the 2021 British Rally Championship runner-up would need to work hard and fast to close in on the leaders. But he did by the fifth test and Pryce had secured a podium spot by the time the second loop of stages had arrived - then he was battling with Cronin for the lead.

It was the final loop, following set-up adjustments by the Melvyn Evans Motorsport team at the final service halt, which transformed the car, leaving Pryce to surpass Cronin for the all-important round one victory. After facing a budget shortfall earlier in the week, the win was even more special for the Machynlleth driver: "That's really special," said Pryce. "I didn't think it was possible to be honest but big thanks to the team, they turned the car around this morning and made it into that sweet thing that we were really looking for".

Williams and Roberts were a delighted third after battling technical issues with their Hyundai i20. Quickest over the second seafront blast on Saturday night highlighted the crew's potential and handed Williams his maiden BRC scratch stage time. Elliott Payne/Tom Woodburn secured fourth overall on Payne's closed road-asphalt debut. Having stuck to gravel for most of his career, Payne professed to enjoy the challenge of a sealed surface event in his Pirelli-shod Ford Fiesta Rally2.

Whilst Pryce and Cronin fought it out for the lead over the bulk of the event's 14 stages, the podium could have easily had a very different look had it not been for the tricky Essex lanes claiming some noteworthy hard-chargers. Jason Pritchard/Phil Clarke were the first to fall victim to the changeable Essex closed road lanes after damaging the radiator on the opening loop on Sunday morning. Their Volkswagen Polo GTi's coolant system crying enough before service.

Ruairi Bell/Max Freeman were just six seconds shy of Cronin heading into the first service halt but failed to emerge from the seventh test after a high-speed spin damaged the radiator in their Skoda Fabia. Garry Pearson/Dale Furniss made the step up to the BRC1 category after Pearson became the Motorsport UK National Rally Champion last season, running as high as fourth before ending the event with their Fiesta Rally2 in a ditch.

The Junior British Rally Championship crews also entered into a scintillating fight for maximum points at the season opener and it would be Ola Nore Jr/Jack Morton that took the spoils after a riveting fight with 2021 JBRC runners up Eamonn Kelly/Conor Mohan. The two Fiesta Rally4 contenders traded times for most of the event with the gap between them never more than 2.5 seconds all rally long. But it would be the Norwegian that took the lead on the penultimate stage of the event, holding on to secure his maiden Junior BRC win on his British rally debut.

Kyle White/Sean Topping briefly led the charge in their Peugeot 208 Rally4 before falling away to third as the rally progressed. Some positive times during the event shows the potential of the new machinery. Johnnie Mulholland/Eoin Treacy secured fourth in their Fiesta Rally4 whilst Kyle McBride/Kenny Bustard endured a troubling event to secure a maximum Academy Trophy score.

Craig Jones/Ian Taylor fought till the last for the National Rally Champion top spot in their Fiesta and duly delivered on the final test of the event, overhauling Mick O'Brien/Mark Glennerster's Ford Focus WRC. Playing their Joker offered up an additional point-scoring opportunity and they grasped it with both hands. William Mains/Richard Bonner took third in their Vauxhall Nova.

The British Rally Championship now returns to the demanding lanes of the Scottish Borders for the Beatson's Building Supplies Jim Clark Rally in just over a month's time.

Motorsport UK British Rally Championship - Overall After Round 1
1. Osian Pryce/Noel O'Sullivan 25
2. Keith Cronin/Mikie Galvin 18
3. James Williams/Dai Roberts 15
4. Elliot Payne/Tom Woodburn 12
5. Ola Nore Jr/Jack Morton 10
6. Eamonn Kelly/Conor Mohan 8
7. Kyle White/Sean Topping 6
8. Ioan Lloyd/Sion Williams 4
9. Johnnie Mullholland/Eoin Treacy 2
10. Kyle McBride/Kenny Bustard 1

25th April, 2022