19 year old rallying sensation Osian Pryce will be looking for that all-elusive podium placing on the 21st Pirelli International Rally, the third round of the MSA British Rally Championship (BRC) this weekend.
Pryce heads north to the rally base at Carlisle sitting second in the BRC, just two points behind the Championship leader, an incredible achievement for the young Welshman from Aberangell, near Dolgellau who cut his teeth on the International rallying scene when rallying in Latvia at just 16.
Co driven by the experienced Iestyn Williams of Abersoch, Dovey Valley Motor Club member Pryce will pilot the 210 bhp Citroën DS3 R3 on the second of the two-day format BRC events this year.
Pryce will be driving under the banner of Welshpool based Davies Motorsport Services (DMS)Team and currently sits in joint first place for both the Class 5 Drivers Championship and the Citroën Racing Trophy.
With 29 International category drivers taking part in the main Championship, and no less than seven Citroën DS3’s entered, it’s sure to be a battle for the determined teenager, but one that he relishes, saying “I’m after that third podium place after coming so close on both the Rallye Sunseeker and the Bulldog Rally as I was in a good position to achieve it when events outside my control robbed me of the privilege on both occasions.”
The rally is one of the toughest rounds in the Championship with all 95 stage miles being in the infamous Kielder Forest, home to many of the former Lombard RAC Rallies and dubbed “killer Kielder” due to its fierce reputation for rewarding the brave and severely punishing the unwary.
The action will commence on Friday night when following a ceremonial start in Carlisle town centre, rally crews head off to the forest at Kershope some 40 miles east of Carlisle for a 6.3 mile special stage before regrouping in the nearby village of Newcastleton where fans can meet the drivers and see the cars. After the regroup, the crews head back into the forest for a night time running of the stage, which promises to be a tough test in the dark.
Dust is likely to be a problem if the weather stays dry and could hamper drivers as they tackle the 12 special stages, all run on gravel with Pryce saying:
“Dust was an issue last year so we could do with some rain before the event to keep it down.” He added “If it’s very hot like last year then tyre wear will be a major factor as it was also on the last round of the BRC at the Bulldog, so it will be a case of carefully managing the tyres whilst pushing as hard as we can for the podium.”
Pre-event testing last week for Pryce didn’t quite go according to plan with the weather playing a significant role. Sleet showers, heavy rain and hailstones meant it was difficult to get a true impression of how the car was performing due to the inconsistent surface conditions especially with the ground cutting up and getting very muddy, conditions which are unlikely to reflect the hard and abrasive gravel surfaces of Kielder.
Despite this, the DMS Team have worked with Pryce to experiment and fine tune the car set-up with him saying “We’ve tried a few modifications to the set-up and the limited amount of seat time on testing indicates that they’ll benefit my style of driving so I’m looking forward to seeing how we get on in the forest on Friday night.”
For this year, rally organisers Cumberland Sporting Car Club, has introduced new stages for over 40% of the mileage with the remainder of the original mileage reversed for 2012.
On the prospect of driving flat out on the renowned Kielder stages, Pryce said “I gained a lot of experience on this rally last year and it’s certainly one that you have to have a lot of respect for, but we’ll be pushing hard yet making sure that we bring the car home to at least maintain our position in the Championships.”
With a strong Scandinavian presence, the rally is likely to be a closely fought battle in the now two-wheel drive format, with mere seconds separating the top crews on the opening rounds of the Championship and rallying fans are sure to be treated to spectacle of rallying action at its very best.
Osian is supported by G&M Pryce Builders, 2300 Club John Easson, Express Motors, Sbardun Pwllheli, Motorsport Tools and Morris Plant Hire. Follow his progress through the year via his website at www.osianpryce.com