Osian Pryce has been crowned 2022 British rally champion – winning the title for the first time following victory on the Trackrod Rally Yorkshire.
It was his fourth maximum British Rally Championship points score in five events this year – and the second title he’s won on the Trackrod, having clinched the Fiesta ST Trophy in 2011.
Osian joins a prestigious list of British rally champions, which includes Elfyn Evans, Gwyndaf Evans, Dai Llewellin, Colin McRae, Malcolm Wilson, Jimmy McRae, Ari Vatanen, Stig Blomqvist, Hannu Mikkola and Roger Clark.
The 29-year old Machynlleth-born driver had led the BRC many times before and had previously finished runner-up three times – but this was his year, as another faultless performance in his Melvyn Evans Motorsport-prepared and Michelin-shod Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 gave him and Irish co-driver Noel O’Sullivan the title with one round remaining.
Osian made a solid start on the opening 11-mile stage held at night through Dalby forest – and despite catching some dust from non-championship cars running ahead of him he took a 5.2 second lead into the overnight halt.
He extended that lead to 24.5 seconds after a blistering time through Cropton (SS2) and then set two more fastest stage times through Gale Rigg (SS3) and Staindale (SS4) to arrive at the final service halt with a healthy 28.5 second advantage.
Two stages through Langdale (SS5) and a repeat run of Dalby (SS6) now separated Osian from Britain’s premier rally title. It was time to ease off slightly as a controlled and inch-perfect run to the finish saw him take the Trackrod Rally Yorkshire win by 20.4 seconds and with it clinch the BRC title in sensational style.
Much like the five rounds before, the race for the title saw a ruthless battle between BRC regular Pryce and four-time champion Keith Cronin. Cronin made a comeback to the British Championship tour in a quest for a record-equalling fifth title and could well have been instrumental in stopping Pryce’s charge at the weekend.
But an overshoot in his Pirelli-backed Polo GTi on Friday night would set the tone for the remainder of the event. Despite salvaging two fastest times over the final loop, Cronin and co-driver Mikie Galvin would fall short of Pryce’s pace and could only salvage second. Cronin’s unwavering desire for that fifth crown would need to wait another year.
Rounding out the podium was Ruari Bell and Max Freeman in their Skoda Fabia. Bell has shown bucket loads of promise so far this season but hasn’t yet bettered third spot. Yorkshire would not offer that opportunity either. Despite being Pryce’s closest challenger for much of the event, a spin on the final stage meant another third step of the podium would be all he could salvage.
James Williams and Dai Roberts were back in the older specification Hyundai i20 for the gravel of Yorkshire and would improve during the weekend to take fourth, whilst Garry Pearson and Dale Furniss would be another crew to change steed for the weekend, reverting to their 2021 National winning Hankook-backed Skoda Fabia in fifth.
National Rally Champion
After being a National Rally Champion runner-up three times, Alan Carmichael finally sealed the title as he and Arthur Kierans endured a dramatic finish to their event, cooling issues in their Hyundai i20 forcing them to stop on the final test. Nursing the car back to Filey, a finish was all that was required to seal the crown.
Craig Jones and Ian Taylor also suffered in the tricky Yorkshire forests, with bumpers missing on their Fiesta 4×4 they did enough to secure a maximum points haul despite gravel not being their preferred surface.
Junior British Rally Championship
Eamonn Kelly wrapped up the Junior BRC title in Ceredigion but came to Yorkshire to ensure co-driver Conor Mohan could also claim the honour, and it was mission accomplished as the Fiesta Rally4 pairing were head and shoulders above their fellow contenders and take their fourth win of the season.
After Ioan Lloyd and Sion Williams were dispatched with sheared wheel studs on their Peugeot 208 Rally4, Johnnie Mulholland and Eoin Treacy took second in their Fiesta, albeit over two minutes down on the victors.
“I’ve always wanted to have my name on the British Rally Championship trophy,” said Osian (above right with Noel O’Sullivan).
“It has been such a long process to make this happen, and I have to say a huge thank you to everyone who has made this happen.”
“We have been patient, the hunger never faded so I’m so glad we persevered and kept at it.
“I’ve tried to do this for many, many years and I’ll forever be in debt for people’s generosity, kindness and support. I just hope this repays them because I’m very proud of them and proud of what we have achieved.”
For his title-winning 2022 BRC campaign, Osian is supported by Demon Tweeks, Bell Racing helmets, OMP race suits, Liqui Moly (oils, lubricants and additives), LM Performance (Liqui Moly distributors), DL Jones Pontrobert Ltd (coach and taxi hire), Hills Campervans (campervan sales and hire), MotoFit (performance training), 57 Tyres, Kevin Williams Groundwork & Plant Hire, Red Kite Glass Ltd, Carbon Positive Motorsport and his own family-run specialist building firm G+M Pryce.