PG Andersson to put Fiesta R2 through its paces at Pirelli Rally

17.04.2010: The border city of Carlisle plays host to Round 3 of the 2010 Kick Energy Fiesta SportTrophy UK (FST) and Fiesta SportChallenge (FSC) championships next weekend, 23-24 April. Former double FIA Junior World Rally Champion and works Suzuki driver Per Gunna

The border city of Carlisle plays host to Round 3 of the 2010 Kick Energy Fiesta SportTrophy UK (FST) and Fiesta SportChallenge (FSC) championships next weekend, 23-24 April.  Former double FIA Junior World Rally Champion and works Suzuki driver Per Gunnar Andersson will join the 13 regular FST / FSC crews on the event.

30-year-old Andersson and co-driver Anders Fredriksson, both from Arjang in Sweden, will take part in the event in an M-Sport prepared and run Fiesta R2 in an effort to assess the potential of the new car.  Andersson’s inclusion on the event will also give the FST crews the chance to see just what takes to compete against a WRC regular.  Andersson usually competes in the FIA S-WRC for S2000 cars and has finished on the podium twice in 2010 including winning the opening round, Rally Sweden, in February.
 
Based at Carlisle Racecourse, the Pirelli Rally also marks the second round of the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship (BRC) and the BRC Challenge (BRCC).  The event takes in some of the most renowned stages in Northern England and Southern Scotland including Pundershaw, Sheperdshield and Newcastleton, all of which have featured on both Rally GB and the Roger Albert Clark Rally.

The FST section competes alongside the BRC over the 100-stage mile Pirelli International Rally and kicks off with three twilight stages around the Newcastleton area on Friday 23 April.  The first three stages are repeated on Saturday morning before the competitors head south for six stages around the Kielder forest area.  The FSC event runs alongside the BRC Challenge on the Pirelli Challenge Rally and takes place over stages seven to twelve, around 50-stage miles, of the International event and includes both Pundershaw and Sheperdshield.
 
FST championship leader, 21 year old Elfyn Evans, from Machynlleth, heads to event on the crest of a wave having won both the opening FST rounds as well as Pirelli Star Driver nomination for the Bulldog Rally.  Evans finished second on the Pirelli National Rally in 2008 and will be looking to go one better next weekend.  Having been forced to miss Round 2 of the championship Matthew Cathcart makes a welcome return to the series, this time with new co-driver Calvin Cooledge alongside. 

Cathcart, 18 from Enniskillen finished just 18 seconds behind Evans on the season opener, the Malcolm Wilson Rally and his so far been the closest challenger to the flying Welshman.  Cathcart will be looking for a strong result to get his championship challenge back on course. 
 
23-year-old John Boyd, from West Linton and co-driver Craig Wallace leapt from fourth to second in the championship on the Bulldog International Rally thanks to a conservative drive to second.  The Scottish pair will be hoping to maintain that momentum in Round 3 and re-enforce that position in the standings. 
 
2009 Scottish Junior Champion John MacCrone, 20 from the Isle of Mull, and co-driver Stuart Louden made their championship debut on the Bulldog International Rally and posted some impressive times despite limited testing in the Rally Team Scotland prepared Fiesta R2.  Their progress was hampered however by a puncture on Stage 2, which ultimately cost them over twelve minutes and with it any chance of victory.  Tied with new boy MacCrone in fourth position in the standings is 19-year-old Welshman Tom Watson from Glanaman.  Watson and co-driver Paul Morris put in a conservative drive to take home a good points haul with third on Round 1 of the championship, the Malcolm Wilson Rally, before a stray wheel cost them any chance of a good result on Round 2.  Watson will be hoping to put his bad luck on Round 2 behind him and concentrate on closing the gap to those in front on the Pirelli.
 
Peter Taylor’s debut season in the FST has so far been plagued with bad luck.  A misfire curtailed his progress on Round 1; despite the problems he kept the car on the road to eventually finish fifth and took home a prize cheque for his efforts.  Round 2 saw Taylor and co-driver Andy Richardson once again suffer misfortune; a broken driveshaft on Stage 2 forced them out of the event on the spot.  Since Round 2 Taylor has competed on the Charterhall Stages Rally to put some more miles on the car and get to the bottom of their teething troubles.
 
Current Kick Energy Fiesta SportChallenge championship leader Jonny Cunningham, 26, from Galway hasn’t had time to relax since round two of the championship.  Cunningham got his Irish Junior Championship title bid underway on the Circuit of Kerry Rally on 11 April 2010.  Cunningham switched from his regular Fiesta ST to a Honda Civic, prepared by his father’s Cunningham Motorsport operation, for the event and also switched co-drivers; with Brother Patrick sitting alongside.  The pairing survived a spin and a puncture, whilst leading the Junior section of the rally to bring the car home in third.  Cunningham will be back with UK co-driver Richard Millener when he crosses the start ramp in Carlisle and the pair will be hoping for more success on the Cumbrian event.
 
Richard Parry-Jones and Sara Price, from Abermaw enjoyed their best result since returning to competition on the Bulldog Challenge Rally to leap from fourth to second in the standings.  Parry-Jones posted a string of impressive stage times on his home event and will be looking to build on that performance next weekend.  Third in the FSC standings heading into the Pirelli Challenge Rally is another Welshman, John Pritchard, who has also returned to competition in 2010.  Pritchard, from Ruthin, and co-driver Chris Williams have finished third on both FSC events so far and will be aiming to progress further up the podium on the Carlisle based event.
 
28-year-old Damien Smith, from Silsden in North Yorkshire, posted some impressive times on Round 1 of the 2010 FSC Championship, the Malcolm Wilson Rally, before eventually finishing second.  Disaster struck Smith and co-driver Frazer Hutchinson on Round 2 however when transmission troubles forced them out of the event on the very first stage.  The pair will be looking to bounce back on the fast, flowing Cumbrian stages next weekend.  On both rounds of the 2010 FSC championship, 17 year old Dan O’Brien, from St Albans has made steady progress to gradually build up his pace and currently holds fourth in the standings.  O’Brien and co-driver Will Rogers will be out to continue their steady progress this season and consolidate their position in the championship.
 
Another series debutant making steady progress in 2010 is 20-year-old Alex Laffey from Market Harborough.  Laffey finished fifth on the opening round of the championship in March and was running well on Round 2 before an excursion into the trees cost him any chance of a result.  Laffey will be partnered by a new co-driver on the Pirelli Challenge Rally, with the experienced Peter Martin taking over the passengers seat.  18-year-old Jamie Brown from Foulsham, Norfolk and co-driver Craig Burgess, currently hold joint fifth in the FSC standings with Laffey.  Brown completed the Pirelli Challenge Rally in 2009 and should be well placed to improve on his current championship.
 
The Fiesta SportTrophy UK competitors will once again be eligible for the Pirelli Star Driver nomination and with the chance to go up against a WRC star the FST regulars will be hoping to give an impressive performance as they battle it out for the £1,850 prize fund.
 
 FST UK Championship Leader Elfyn Evans said:

"We are obviously hoping for a similar result to the Bulldog, but the Pirelli stages are a lot less forgiving than those in North Wales so we will be out to drive neat and tidy whilst keeping the pace as high as we can."
 
FSC Championship Leader Jonny Cunningham said:

"I have a very busy weekend ahead, as I am also competing on Round 3 of the Irish Junior Championship, in Monaghan.  My focus this weekend will be to keep the car on the road and consolidate my lead in the championship."

Double FIA J-WRC Champion Per Gunnar Andersson said:

The Pirelli International Rally will be my first event competing in both the Fiesta R2 and the Dulux Trade British Rally Championship.  I am looking forward to competing with the Ford and to see how my pace is in a Front Wheel Drive car after two years.  The BRC is a totally different challenge for me but the goal is, as always, to win."


-  Kate Rhodes-

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17.04.2010 / MaP

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