Home advantage pays dividends for Evans on Bulldog Rally
Despite some of Europe’s most promising young stars doing battle for the victory in the second round of the FST – with entries from Wales, Northern Ireland, England, Finland and Estonia – Evans proved unstoppable.
Securing the victory with a clean-sweep of fastest stage times, Evans also secured the coveted Castrol Hard Charger Award for the highest number of stage wins. On the pace from the off, Evans secured the fastest time over the opening 5.12 mile stage to give him confidence as he prepares for the first round of the FIA WRC Academy in Portugal next week.
Going well in his Ford Fiesta R2, Matthew Cathcart claimed second with Alastair Fisher, also using the event as preparation for the opening round of the WRC feeder series, just 0.5 seconds adrift in third. Finland’s Jussi Kumpumäki secured fourth, a further 1.1 seconds adrift, with last year’s WRC Academy runner-up, Egon Kaur, fifth.
Getting to grips with his Ford Fiesta R2, Alex Parpottas held sixth with Niko-Pekka Nieminen continuing to gain knowledge of the BRC stages on only his second outing in the championship, seventh. A solid time from Gethin Jones put the Welshman eighth, but losing second gear and struggling to find a good rhythm, Jack Rowe could only manage the ninth fastest time with Matt Cotton tenth.
Elsewhere there was heartache for Ruary MacLeod as a damaged wheel marked the end of the youngster’s rally on the opening stage. SS4 saw another impressive time from Evans as well as Fisher and Kumpumäki who leap-frogged Cathcart and Kaur for second and third respectively.
Another solid time form Parpottas and Nieminen saw the youngsters maintain sixth and seventh with Jones eighth. Continuing to struggle with no second gear, Rowe fell prey to Cotton who climbed to ninth. Back on the pace on SS5, Cathcart and Kaur regained second and third place respectively as an off and a small fire spelled retirement for Fisher. Kumpumäki recovered fourth with Parpottas climbing to fifth.
Re-running the stages after service, Evans continued to impress. Two second-fastest stage times on SS7 and SS8 from Kaur saw the Estonian relegate Cathcart to the final step of the podium but there was heartache for Kumpumäki as a loss of brake pressure forced the Finn to retire en route to SS6.
Embarking on the final set of stages in the afternoon, Evans came alive to set a further three fastest stage times in the FST as well as the overall standings. A trouble free run for all remaining FST crews saw Kaur secure the runner up spot on his first outing at the event with Cathcart taming the slippery conditions for the final step of the podium.
I am very happy to have won here. We had a really good rally and although some of the stages were very difficult we tackled them well and managed to keep a consistent pace to take the victory.