Sports News

Manx Rally - Pritchard takes Victory as Bird Rolls Out

Sun, 11 May 2014  11:30

Jason Pritchard & Phil Clarke pictured on the opening stage above Port Erin (
Jason Pritchard & Phil Clarke pictured on the opening stage above Port Erin (

By Andrew Hail

This time last year Jason Pritchard and co-driver Phil Clarke had just finished 2nd overall on the Manx National Rally in their Ford Focus WRC. In spite of their inexperience of the closed public roads on the Isle of Man, they were harrying eventual winners Paul Bird and Aled Davies, losing out by just a couple of seconds after 120 miles of special stages.

Fast forward twelve months and, in a fascinating finish to the 2014 Manx National Rally, Pritchard/Clarke arrived back at the TT Grandstand as victors, having fought off a determined challenge from Ollie Mellors/Ian Windress in their Proton Millington Satria. This was 18-year old Mellors’ first Manx rally but, even at this early stage, he has already equalled his father Chris’s best result on the event!

For much of the time both crews were trailing Bird/Davies who put in a superb performance in difficult conditions during the Friday night leg to open up a 21⁄2-minute lead over all their rivals. The pair were maintaining station during Saturday until, with just a couple of stages to go, their Focus mounted a bank on the second run through Druidale and rolled several times. Fortunately, there were no injuries but the car is due to be flown out to Rally Barbados in the next few days and will need plenty of TLC if this is still to happen!...

Third overall were Steve Simpson/Patrick Walsh in their Subaru Impreza WRC, finishing ahead of thge Skoda Fabia WRC of John Stone/Carl Williamson. Arron Newby and Manx co-driver Rob Fagg were 5th in their Impreza, a result which will strengthen their position at the top of the Eurocars Motorsport Manx Rally Championship points table.

The first two-wheel drive car home was the Ford Escort MkII of Daniel McKenna and Arthur Kierans - sixth overall and winning its class by almost eight minutes!

This year the organisers, Manx Auto Sport Ltd, had moved the date of the Chris Kelly Memorial Rally to coincide with the Manx National. Run over an identical route, but for holders of National ‘B’ competition licences, the Lancer EVO of Timmy & Cliona Collins ran out as winner of this section, from Alan Oldfield/Ken Bills in their Proton S2500.

The National Rally was the second round of the REIS MSA Asphalt Rally Championship, the top points scorers on this occasion being Pritchard, Mellors and Simpson respectively. Having been absent from the opening round, Bird missed out on the opportunity to open his account in the series, while defending champion Damian Cole had been running strongly for much of the event until a throttle problem put him out on the penultimate stage.

Over 100 cars started the rally in Port Erin on Friday night - the largest for several years and although a couple of accidents, thankfully without serious injury, had served to delay proceedings during the first leg that evening, the second and final section ran to schedule.

Full Results: HERE


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