Ogier secures 8th WRC title with Monza win

Sebastien Ogier secured his fifth victory of the season by a slender 7.3s margin over Elfyn Evans after a fierce battle across the three days, with the lead between the pair changing six times as the Welshman fought valiantly to keep his slender title hopes alive, having started the weekend 17 points adrift of his rival, but it proved a fairytale finish for Ogier as he prepares for semi-retirement, contesting only handful of WRC events for Toyota next year, while it was the final event for co-driver Julien Ingrassia after 16 years alongside Ogier.

But Ogier's victory wasn't without a huge dollop of luck as the wily Toyota driver clipped a concrete barrier and removed a large chunk of his front tyre, which fortunately remained inflated, allowing him to successfully complete the final three stages, beating teammate and title rival Elfyn Evans to win the 2021 FORUM8 ACI Rally Monza

"I don't know what to say - it's amazing." said Ogier in front of a bumper crowd that mobbed him at stage finish, after sealing the 2021 title to add to triumphs in 2013-2018 and 2020. The Frenchman led from the first stage edging his teammate on the mountain stages before dropping 1.4s behind Evans, who starred on stages held at the Monza grand prix circuit.

On Saturday, the lead changed hands five times across six stages, four tests in the Bergamo mountains and two at Monza circuit, as Ogier headed Evans by 0.5s heading into Sunday. Ogier's title hopes could have ended when he hit the concrete barrier on Monza's historic banking in Sunday's first stage with his front right wheel.

Moments later Evans' victory hopes were dealt a blow in the penultimate stage when he ran wide during a circuit section and stalled his Yaris, costing him 7.1s to Ogier. A measured drive to finish second in the final Power Stage sealed a 54th WRC career win ahead of Evans. The result also clinched the manufacturers' title for Toyota in Jari-Matti Latvala's first year as team boss. It was also the final event for this generation of WRC cars as the series prepares for its Rally1 hybrid future in 2022.

Hyundai's Dani Sordo secured the final spot on the podium ahead of teammate Thierry Neuville, who surrendered third on Saturday when he hit an armco barrier on stage 9. The Belgian sealed third in the championship standings by winning the Power Stage to finish fourth overall in Monza.
After two stalls on the final stage, Oliver Solberg (2C Competition) netted his career best WRC result after an impressive weekend-long run to fifth overall in only his fourth topflight outing in the championship. Standing-in for 2019 world champion Ott Tanak at Hyundai, Teemu Suninen managed to claim sixth despite only one test day behind the wheel of the car prior to the event. A swift repair to the front left destroyed after a crash in the penultimate stage allowed Takamoto Katsuta to finish seventh ahead of M-Sport's Gus Greensmith, who drove smartly throughout to secure eighth.

Toyota's Kalle Rovanpera ended the rally in ninth having been tasked by his team to drive conservatively throughout the event to ensure the operation won the manufacturers' title. The Finn gave the spectators plenty to cheer about by deliberately performing some donuts during the final stage. M-Sport's Adrien Fourmaux reached the finish after restarting on Saturday following a roll in stage 3 on Friday.

The WRC returns next year with the Monte Carlo Rally 20-23 January.

Results Overall - Rally Monza

1. S. OGIER/J. INGRASSIA Yaris WRC 2:39:08.6
2. E. EVANS/S. MARTIN Yaris WRC 2:39:15.9 +7.3
3. D. SORDO/C. CARRERA i20 Coupé WRC 2:39:29.9 +21.3
4. T. NEUVILLE/M. WYDAEGHE i20 Coupé WRC 2:39:40.6 +32.0
5. O. SOLBERG/E. EDMONDSON i20 Coupé WRC 2:40:40.6 +1:32.0
6. SUNINEN/M. MARKKULA i20 Coupé WRC 2:41:31.2 +2:22.6
7. T. KATSUTA/A.JOHNSTON Yaris WRC 2:41:43.1 +2:34.5
8. G. GREENSMITH/J. ANDERSSON Fiesta WRC 2:41:58.8 +2:50.2
9. K. ROVANPERÄ/J. HALTTUNEN Yaris WRC 2:43:58.2 +4:49.6
10. A. CRUGNOLA/P. OMETTO i20 N Rally 2 2:48:15.5 +9:06.9

22nd November, 2021

Matt Edwards & Darren Garrod win 2021 BRC!

Matt Edwards carved his name firmly in the record books by becoming Motorsport UK British Rally Champion for the third time in a row at Modern Tyres Ulster Rally 20 November. After battling with teammate Osian Pryce, Edwards and co-driver Darren Garrod successfully navigated their Volkswagen Polo GTi through the daunting lanes around Newry, trading times together throughout the event, until the penultimate stage when an error from Pryce saw him leave the road and give Edwards his third title.

In doing so Edwards joins an eminent list of names on the sought-after BRC trophy including Colin McRae, Richard Burns and Ari Vatanen. But even so, those iconic drivers never secured the coveted title three times consecutively and the Welshman becomes the first driver in history to do just that. Like the previous BRC six rounds, the Ulster Rally had been between the two Melvyn Evans Motorsport contenders with Edwards needing to win to become champion. But Pryce also had his eyes on the prize and was doing everything in his power to not become a BRC runner up for the third time in his career. Sadly, his Michelin shod Volkswagen would end the eighth stage on its roof.

Taking second place in the BRC would be Josh Moffett and Andy Hayes in their Hyundai i20. A largely trouble-free run from the pairing saw them scoop their first BRC podium of the season. Keith Cronin and Mikie Galvin would be another crew to secure a maiden podium of 2021 as they took their Hankook backed Ford Fiesta Rally2 to third place despite a puncture and penalties for a late service check-out.

Round one winners Sam Moffett and Keith Moriarty scooped fourth after overcoming early brake issues. The duo had reverted back to an older specification Fiesta for the weekend and would finish some five minutes ahead of Seb Perez and Gary McElhinney in the M-Sport Fiesta Rally2, taking fifth despite an off on shakedown. The Melvyn Evans Motorsport squad were also confirmed as British Rally Championship Teams victors, offering some consolation to only one of the two cars returning to the Newry finish.

The final word must come from 2021 champion Matt Edwards: "Everyone knows what the BRC means to me. I gave absolutely everything I could today. This thing [the car] has been at all sorts of shapes and we have gone absolutely nuts to try and do the job. Huge thanks to Yuasa and all my supporters who had the faith in me to make it all happen again. Huge credit to Melvyn Evans as well who stuck by me, we could have easily not been here this weekend with all our budget problems after bouncing it off Mull and Cambrian [Rally] hedges."

"I don't give up and this is the reward for that".

And so say all of us - Congratulations to Matt and Darron, 2021 BRC Champions

Championship Points - Overall After Round 7
1. Matt Edwards 111J
2. Osian Pryce 106J
3. Matthew Wilson 53J
4. Rhys Yates 53J
5. Sam Moffett 51J
6. Keith Cronin 50J
7. Seb Perez 46J
8. Josh Moffett 42
9. William Creighton 35J
10. Eamonn Kelly 20J

1. Darren Garrod 108
2. Noel O'Sullivan 101
3. Keith Moriarty 49
4. James Morgan 49
5. Mikie Galvin 47
6. Gary McElhinney 45
7. Andy Hayes 42
8. Liam Regan 35
9. Dale Furniss 28
10. Elliott Edmondson 25

22nd November, 2021

BRC - Modern Tyres Ulster Rally 20th November

The 2021 Motorsport UK British Rally Championship comes down to the final encounter of the season, the Modern Tyres Ulster Rally next weekend [20 November] the seventh round of the series.

The stages around the Newry rally base will see the British Rally champion crowned on Saturday night, but standing in the way is over 93 competitive miles of merciless closed-road special tests with every passing corner ready to usurp any one of the title protagonists. Add into the mix the prospect of the latter stages taking place under the cover of darkness and it's all set to be a gripping final blast of 2021.

Aiming for a record-breaking third BRC title in a row is Conwy driver Matt Edwards who heads to Northern Ireland with the number one on the door. But fellow Welshman Osian Pryce will be doing all he can to take his maiden British Rally Championship title and starts the event with an eight-point lead in the standings, on paper at least.

Taking dropped scores into account, in simplistic terms Edwards and co-driver Darren Garrod need to take their Pirelli-shod Volkswagen Polo GTi to maximum BRC points if Edwards is to clinch a place in the history books. Standing firmly in his way though, Melvyn Evans Motorsport teammate Pryce and co-driver Noel O'Sullivan will be threading their Michelin rubbered Polo through the stages with precision and undoubtedly with more than one eye on the times.

If Edwards doesn't take the top score, Pryce can afford to cruise home thanks to his impressive points tally accumulated over a season that has seen the Machynlleth driver finish on the podium on every round so far. With two wins apiece to each of the protagonists, it's a winner takes all scenario but one thing is for sure, the Volkswagen marque will secure their first-ever British Rally Championship title in the process.
A stellar entry will line up to tackle the Ulster lanes and any one of the impressive field could hamper the title chase for Pryce or Edwards. Both Sam and Josh Moffett return to the BRC fold after a mid-season break although it's unclear if they will be registering for points at this stage. If anyone knows how to win titles, its four-time BRC champion Keith Cronin who makes his 2021 debut on asphalt in his Hankook backed Ford Fiesta Rally2. Continuing to develop the tyres throughout the season, Cronin and co-driver Mickie Galvin could well throw up some surprises during the day.

Cathan McCourt and Liam Moynihan impressed on the gravel of the Grampian Rally in August despite making their debut in a brand new Fiesta Rally2 and are well in line for a podium spot. Seb Perez bagged his first BRC podium at the Cambrian and will be looking to round out his season in style. His and co-driver Gary McElhinney's recent WRC Spain experience will put them in good stead on the Northern Ireland asphalt and are M-Sport's sole entry at the weekend.

Having made a stellar return to the stages at the Cambrian Rally, former Junior BRC front-runner James Williams will tackle the event in a Fiesta Rally2 to gain valuable experience in four-wheel-drive machinery for the future, ably co-driven by Dai Roberts.

12th November, 2021

Pryce extends BRC lead on Cambrian Rally

Leading from the opening stage, Osian Pryce and co-driver Noel O'Sullivan held their nerve and took their Michelin shod Melvyn Evans Motorsport Volkswagen Polo GTi to back-to-back wins after a faultless drive in the infamous north Wales stages. Seb Perez and Gary McElhinney upheld M-Sport honours by taking their maiden BRC podium in second place, driving their Pirelli rubbered Fiesta Rally2, whilst two-time event winner and BRC title rivals Matt Edwards and Darren Garrod endured another tough weekend to take third after a nail-biting final loop.

Famous for hosting the World Rally Championship crews on Wales Rally GB, the world class stages were likely to test BRC regulars to the limit thanks to the slippery nature of the north Wales forests. Based at the seaside town of Llandudno, the Cambrian Rally also offered a unique twist to the format thanks to a brand new closed-road asphalt stage to round out proceedings.

Four drivers would head into the weekend with a chance of the title but after 44 miles of stage action, that would be down to just two. Double British champion Edwards started as perhaps the favourite and the Conwy driver would sensibly elect to play his Joker card for the chance of bagging up to five additional points on home round. But Pryce stole the march with the fastest time over the opener and despite an initial fightback from teammate Edwards, Pryce retained the upper hand.

Behind Pryce, the drama unfolded with Edwards struggling for grip in the tricky conditions. A ten-second deficit was reduced to six by the third test and it was set to be another impressive battle between the stablemates. But Edwards was launched off the road after a compression in the fourth stage and would lose over 1m40 effecting repairs to the Polo to ensure he could continue.

A broken front right-hand side track control arm was the culprit and with no service, Edwards would be using every opportunity on the road sections to try and stabilise the car. In a nail-biting final loop, Edwards would do enough to crawl through the remaining three stages and salvage enough points to take the championship title fight to the final round, the Modern Tyres Ulster Rally in November.

Seb Perez endured a tough day behind the wheel but was able to enjoy the best BRC result of his career with second place in his Fiesta Rally2. Contesting his first British Championship campaign, Perez had limited knowledge of the Cambrian stages but dealt with the challenging tests perfectly.

Hankook backed Keith Cronin and co-driver Mikie Galvin struggled to find the sweet spot in their Fiesta Rally2 to take fourth in BRC1. A puncture hampered progress through the day to finish almost seven minutes behind the winner. Ashley Dickson and Emily Easton-Page took the NRC7 class win in their Fiesta as the new pairing stayed largely out of trouble in the unforgiving stages.

It was an early bath for M-Sport's Matthew Wilson and Elliott Edmondson after hitting standing water on the very first stage, forcing their Fiesta Rally2 out and along with it, any hopes of taking the BRC title. Continuing their blistering run of form in 2021, Garry Pearson and Niall Burns sealed the deal on the Motorsport UK National Rally Title by taking yet another maximum points haul in their Skoda Fabia. Another crew to play their Joker, their points tally and three wins this season gives them the honour with a round to spare.

With times good enough for second overall in the rally, Pearson was untouchable over the Welsh tests to keep nearest title challengers and third-place finishers Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson at bay in their Ford Fiesta WRC. However, taking runner up spot was James Wilson and Arthur Kierans in their Hyundai i20. After making the switch from the BRC1 to National category for the event, Wilson found his feet in the treacherous conditions to split the two title protagonists.

The British Rally Championship now heads across to Northern Ireland for final round of the 2021 season and will play out on the demanding Modern Tyres Ulster Rally closed roads around Newry in November.

Motorsport UK British Rally Championship Points - After 6 of 7 Rounds
1. Osian Pryce 106J
2. Matt Edwards 98J
3. Matthew Wilson 53J
4. Rhys Yates 53J
5. Sam Moffett 37
6. Seb Perez 36J
7. Keith Cronin 32
8. William Creighton 29J
9. Josh Moffett 24
10. Tom Cave 18

1. Noel O'Sullivan 101
2. Darren Garrod 95
3. James Morgan 49
4. Keith Moriarty 37
5. Gary McElhinney 35
6. Mikie Galvin 32
7. Liam Regan 29
8. Dale Furniss 28
9. Elliott Edmondson 25
10. Stuart Loudon 25

31st October, 2021

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