Osian Pryce reminded fans why he is the reigning British rally champion by winning the biggest and most prestigious rally in the UK when he romped to victory on the 2023 JDS Machinery Rali Ceredigion based in Aberystwyth last weekend.
It was the second time that the 30-year old driver had won the close road stage event, having clinched victory there in 2019 and a short distance from his home in Machynlleth .
As well as being presented with the wonderful winning Rali Ceredigion event trophies, Osian also took home the top-placed Tour European Rally silverware.
It wasn’t all plain sailing, as Osian overshot a junction on the opening stage and stalled the engine of his Melvyn Evans Motorsport-prepared Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.
Co-driven by Stéphane Prévot, fastest time on the next four out of five stages were to prove decisive, as Osian took and then opened up a healthy lead.
It had been a calculated flat-out blast to gain an advantage, but one not without risk as a fifth gear brush with a hedge on SS4 proved how committed Osian was. But the plan to push hard on day one worked, for after the runs through the two Aberystwyth street stages Osian entered the overnight halt with an impressive 42.7 second lead.
Victory was his to lose on day two, which with six demanding stages – including the spectacular signature Nant y Moch test, named after the reservoir the stage ran alongside – wasn’t the easiest of rally days to survive unscathed.
Yet Osian controlled the pace at the front magnificently, setting fastest time on the penultimate stage to show everyone that he was in complete control of the situation. His winning margin at the end of the 14 stage/100 stage mile event was 22.9 seconds.
And it was made possible by the invaluable support of local businesses –including Hills Automotive, who have supported Osian since 2016 (below).
“I’m delighted to win Rali Ceredigion for a second time, because it’s such a challenging event and the biggest and best rally in the UK,” said Osian.
“We had a great opening day and all the hard work was done then. To have such a big lead overnight wasn’t in the script at all. A few of the top crews had a problem on the first day, myself included, but we came out on top and from then on it was a case of managing the situation.
“It was hard going into the final day of the event with such a big lead. I’d rather be in a fight and fully committed because starting day two I knew that victory was there for us to lose. That’s why we had a bit of a push on the penultimate stage, just to make sure what we were doing was right and we weren’t easing off too much. That said, on the last stage we were very cautious! We had enough of a buffer by then and I wasn’t too fussed about how many seconds we won by, just so long as the win came!
“It’s good to get back on the horse properly and to get my mojo back. It’s been a hard slog raising the funds needed to go rallying this year and now everything feels worth it. It’s nice to have so many local businesses on the car – they’ve made this event possible and this win’s for them.
“I’d also like to thank the rally organisers for putting on such a world class event, the marshals for keeping the rally running so smoothly and the thousands of spectators that came to watch – it was really great to see so many people out enjoying the event. And a big thank you to the legend that is Stéphane Prévot for doing such a magnificent job in the co-driver’s seat.”
James Williams secured his very first Motorsport UK British Rally Championship victory at the weekend, by taking third overall at the fifth round of the series, the JDS Machinery Rali Ceredigion last weekend (below).
The 25-year-old Newcastle Emlyn driver and co-driver Dai Roberts excelled on home soil after being reunited with a Michelin-shod Hyundai i20 N Rally2, setting a scintillating pace throughout the weekend to finally seal Williams’ maiden BRC top score, a result he has hankered after since entering the Junior BRC category in 2017.
“I’m delighted to take my first BRC win and it’s fair to say, it’s well deserved,” said Williams (in action below).
“I’m sad it’s not the overall win too, but it’s good to get a BRC win and get that duck off my back. It’s been a long time coming & it’s about getting comfortable in the car which is showing a few battle scars. I have to say a huge thanks to the team, my supporters, sponsors, the hospitality team & the local sponsors that have come on board too. Every single one of them has helped to make this happen & I know it’s taken me a while to get up to speed but it’s fantastic to show them what I can do.”
“[I feel like] I am back in the room, I just need to get back into this Hyundai and get some more seat time to really make the most of it”.
The Aberystwyth-based event would provide 100 breathtaking stage miles spread across two days, with the super-fast, undulating moorland roads complimented by narrow, hedge-lined lanes to offer one of the toughest challenges on the BRC calendar. The Ceredigion lanes attracted thousands of fans to watch the action on the stages with a truly international feel to the event adding a very special buzz to the region and the rallying community over the two days of competitive driving.
Inch-perfect precision would be required to make the most out of the task ahead and Williams set his stall out early, with third overall on the opening stage and just five seconds shy of early rally leader Meirion Evans. But the brutal Welsh lanes bite back, and Williams made it an uphill task for the remainder of the weekend by taking a trip into a field on the second test, dropping him down the order to sixth.
But the fightback was on for the young charger and despite a brush with a bale on the fan-packed Aberystwyth Street Stage, Williams’ intent was clear. Setting four four scratch times during the second day of the event, he clawed his way back onto the rally podium and with it, that all-important BRC victory. Made even sweeter by playing his bonus points-inducing Joker card, netting him the full five additional points for his win.
Whilst rally winner, 2022 British Rally Champion Osian Pryce and co-driver Stephane Prevot were able to take a convincing win, it would be Garry Pearson and Daniel Barritt who took yet another BRC runner-up spot in their Hankook-backed Volkswagen Polo GTi. Pearson enjoyed a largely trouble-free weekend behind the wheel, even briefly leading the BRC chargers after Williams’ excursion.
But the Scot would be forced to settle for second behind a charging Williams, however, he remains the closest charger to series leader Adrien Fourmaux with two rounds remaining this season.
Alan Carmichael threw his hat into the BRC1 category ring after acquiring a brand new Hyundai i20 N Rally2 at the start of the week. But the Northern Irishman would struggle to adapt to left-hand-drive from the outset. After progressively upping his pace over the opening day, a heavy impact on the front right would eventually put him and co-driver Claire Williams out of the event.
The Junior BRC battle has never failed to deliver this season and Rali Ceredigion provided the perfect stage for another toe-to-toe duel.
After five tricky stages, it was Ioan Lloyd who held the early advantage in his Peugeot 208 Rally4, with Kyle White just over five seconds down in his similar machine. But White stole the march over the rest of the day’s stages to hold the category lead overnight.
However, the Welsh pairing of Lloyd and co-driver Sion Williams excelled on local soil, moving back into the lead on the second stage of Sunday and were never headed, to take their first Junior BRC victory in front of a delighted home crowd.
With Lloyd not taking points away from the weekend, White would be awarded the full 25 points but still needs another solid result to secure the championship. Still able to usurp that plan is Kyle McBride and Liam McIntyre in the Fiesta Rally4, however, it was a rally to forget for the youngsters.
After running third in the category for much of the event, an excursion over a jump on the second of Sunday’s tests, put the Fiesta into the grass and would be forced to remain there for the day with a broken ball joint, their first non-finish of the season.
The return of Callum Black to the series saw the Brackley driver enter the National Rally Title contest in his Pirelli rubbered Ford Fiesta Rally2 and would never be far away from the overall rally podium spots all weekend. In fact, Black and co-driver Jack Morton enjoyed a brief spell in second overall before being overhauled but would settle four fourth and maximum National points in the process.
After most of the year on the sidelines, William Mains brought his giant-killing Vauxhall Nova back to the category for his first outing of the season. The Welshman secured a class win on his way to second in the National Rally Title with Tomos Whittle on the notes.
The British Rally Championship now returns to the gravel for the final two rounds of the season, as Trackrod Rally Yorkshire provides classic Dalby stages at the end of September and the penultimate encounter of 2023.