Osian Pryce maintains his strong challenge for the 2022 British Rally Championship title after finishing runner-up in the Voyonic Grampian Forest Rally.
It was the second time in as many years that the Machynlleth-born driver had finished second on the Aberdeenshire forestry event, as he and co-driver Noel O’Sullivan enjoyed another fast and trouble-free run in their Melvyn Evans Motorsport-prepared Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.
As the highest placed returnee, Osian started this year’s Grampian Forest Rally first on the road – which turned out to be a disadvantage as he swept the loose gravel off the surface in the fast and flowing Durris, Fetteresso and Drumtochty forests.
By the time the first loop of three stages had been completed, Osian was in third position, 20 seconds behind leaders Keith Cronin/Mikie Galvin (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5) and just four seconds behind Ruairi Bell/Max Freeman (Škoda Fabia R5).
With less loose gravel on the repeat runs, Osian was able to push harder in the afternoon and was rewarded with second place at the finish when the pressure he was putting on Bell saw his rival make a time-consuming error on the sixth and final stage.
With three rounds remaining, Osian has already dropped a score and is just 20 points behind Cronin.
Better still, round five of the 2022 British Rally Championship is the Aberystwyth-based Get Connected Rali Ceredigion (3/4 September) – an event which Osian won when it was first run in 2019.
“It was a tough day in the office on the Grampian Rally, but I’m very pleased to come away with another strong result in second place,” says Osian.
“We knew that being first on the road was going to be a challenge and we lost more time than we anticipated on the first pass of the stages. We felt a big difference on the second pass. We were able to enjoy driving a bit more and we were back on the pace.
“We achieved the best result we could have, so I cannot be disappointed – and congratulations to Keith [Cronin] and Mikie [Galvin] on their win.
Keith Cronin underlined why he is a four-time Motorsport UK British Rally Champion, setting fastest time on all but one stage of the Voyonic Grampian Forest Rally on Saturday to secure a scintillating victory in Scotland and his second win of the season.
The Irishman, along with co-driver Mikie Galvin returned an impeccable performance over the event’s six stages in the searing summer heat, battling low-hanging dust to take his Pirelli-shod Volkswagen Polo to his first BRC win on gravel since 2012. It would be fellow Volkswagen pilot Osian Pryce who stole second place in a dramatic final stage thriller, battling with Ruari Bell till the last who would take his maiden BRC podium in third.
It was as tight as it gets in the Junior BRC for much of the day with the battle between current series leader Eamonn Kelly and nearest challenger Kyle White. Both crews tied on times over the opening test before Kelly eked out a five-second advantage in the second in his Fiesta Rally4. White responded on the next in a tit-for-tat exchange and that was down to just one second ahead of the final loop.
But White’s charge ended on the penultimate test, ripping a brake line off his Peugeot 208 Rally4, allowing Kelly to relax over the final stage of the event and secure his and Conor Mohan’s second win to extend their Junior BRC lead.
Johnnie Mulholland and Eoin Treacy enjoyed second place in their Fiesta Rally4, continuing to build their pace as the season progresses, whilst Ioan Lloyd and Sion Williams were forced to use SuperRally after their Peugeot 208 Rally4 developed a fuel leak before the first stage, recovering to take third.
It was a familiar name at the top of the National Rally Title honours with Alan Carmichael and Arthur Kierans taking the spoils in their Hyundai i20, extending their championship lead in the process. William Mains and Dilwyn John sadly retired their Vauxhall Corsa with engine failure.