Elite competitors perform well as Thomas "Stars" on Jim Clark Rally
Jim Clark Rally, 25-27 May

Event Report

Eight members of the MSA British Rally Elite scheme were out in force on the Jim Clark Rally, round two of the MSA British Rally Championship, last weekend. Top of the bunch were drivers George Thomas and Phillip Morrow, both having mixed fortune weekends, but coming out on top with impressive performances and overall results.

Thomas, a member of the MSA British Rally Academy, won the Pirelli Star Driver award and was first overall in the Citroen C2R2 Cup. The Pirelli Star Driver scheme offers a top prize of a fully-funded drive in the 2008 BRC with the winner being chosen from six drivers at the end of the year; one Star from each round.

Thomas now joins Guy Wilks, Junior WRC star and overall winner of the Pirelli International Rally, as the first two drivers in the shortlist. He earned his position after dominating the Citroen C2R2 category and consistently beating more powerful machinery in the R2 class.

Morrow, who was co-driven by Elite scheme graduate and current WRC co-driver Daniel Barritt, delivered a stirring performance. He grabbed a podium position, finishing third in the BRC, despite a multitude of problems inflicting disruption to his performance during the weekend.

James Wozencroft and Chris Ridge set some impressive times in their Group N Suzuki Swift with a puncture on Saturday denying the pair an impressive result. Both Morrow and Wozencroft were on-form on the tarmac event after spending a day with driving skills coach Rob Wilson a few days before the event recce started.

In addition, all Elite and Academy members benefited from the presence of Hugh Richards during the Jim Clark event. Richards, the Elite scheme Sport Psychologist from Edinburgh University, was on-hand to assist the competitors with their pre-event preparations and also with strategies and targets during the rally.

One driver whose strategy was to beat everyone else in the Diesel Cup was Academy driver Simon Hughes. The 23-year-old debuted the exciting Vauxhall Astra RallyD and set fastest times on every stage he contested. A broken drive-shaft, mid-way through the difficult Abbey St Bathans test, put paid to his Diesel Cup dominance but his performance underlined the potential of this car.

Also caught-out on the same stage was Elite co-driver Robbie Durant when his driver Connor McCloskey clipped a rock; breaking a steering arm and ending their event early.

The Citroen C2R2 Cup also saw separate performances from Academy driver Jason Pritchard and co-driver Andrew Roughead. Pritchard led the category on Saturday but was overhauled by the eventual winner on the last stages of the event; however he did manage to extend his lead in the overall Cup standings. Meanwhile Roughead had an eventful weekend, getting stuck in a ditch when a sudden rain shower left them on the wrong tyres, but gaining valuable experience on all three days of this tough event.

The MSA British Rally Elite is a national training scheme for the top young British rallying talent and is supported by the sport’s governing body, the Motor Sports Association. Training is delivered by The Inside Line with Performance Director, and former WRC world champion, Robert Reid heading the initiative to bring the UK’s top young drivers into the World Rally Championship.

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