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    Jason Pritchard and co-driver Phil Clarke banished the disappointment of last year’s electric fault in true style last weekend (11th – 12th May) as they clinched top spot in this year’s Bet on Aces Manx National Rally.

    As the event finished in glorious sunshine on the Saturday, Pritchard drove his North Road Garage Ford Focus WRC05 to victory number four out of six attempts on the Island, to further establish his excellent record in the Isle of Man.

    The 29-year-old from Builth Wells was in pole position last year and leading by three minutes before an engine fault put a halt to his anticipated victory, this time round, there was no stopping the Welshman, as he bounced back to win the event he thrives in:

    “I’m absolutely delighted to leave the Isle of Man as Manx National Rally winners; I can’t lie and say that last year’s electric fault with the car was on my mind at the start, especially as we were forced to miss the shakedown due to a small issue with the hydraulic system. “However the car was in top form from the word go, capping off a wonderful weekend of rallying, we couldn’t be happier with how it went. We started the weekend by visiting a local primary school to answer questions and took along the car, we are always made to feel so welcome when we come over to the island, it’s always a great experience.”

    Although the rally finished in the sunshine, it wasn’t the case on the Friday evening as the heavens decided to open and although this made Pritchard’s tyre choice easy, it certainly made the conditions a lot trickier to navigate:

    “After failing to do the shakedown, the first stage was my chance to get used to the car and the speed of the event. Even with the torrential rain we managed to beat the bogey time by 4 seconds, this is the average speed for the stage and we were coming in quicker, so this gave me a huge confidence boost right from the start.”

    From rain to thick fog, Pritchard kept pushing himself and the car, gradually extending his lead over the stages which were also repeated in the dark on Friday evening.

    After last year’s winner went out during the first stage, with the same problem Pritchard experienced in 2017, the Welshman was the first car out so had to negotiate the water first and ahead of his rivals, which was now running across the road:

    “The water was a challenge but I just kept my pace at a comfortable level and we managed to build up a lead of 1 minute 40 seconds overnight. I only ended up being beaten by 0.5 seconds on one stage throughout the day so I took these positives into the start of the second day.”

    The next day there was still half the rally to tackle, so Pritchard couldn’t rest on his lead. The weather was a complete contrast on the Saturday with blue skies and sunshine:

    “Going into the Saturday, we had a really good lead so we knew we just had to maintain it to finish in top spot. I didn’t change my approach behind the wheel and kept at a good pace with no risks, we ended up setting the fastest time on all eight stages on that final day, ending the rally in top spot with a lead of over three minutes.”

    Victory after last year’s disappointment was a brilliant way for Pritchard to bounce back and he was grateful for the team around him and the support he receives which allows him to do this:

    “Once the event started we didn’t have to touch the car, it was in fantastic form, big credit must go to the boys in the service for this. The only change was from wet tyres to dry tyres on the Saturday. As always, I have to say a massive thank you to Phil Clarke, all the hard work that he put in before the event certainly paid off, without him there’s no way I would have won this event four times. “A big credit to the organisers as well for putting on such a professional event in some difficult conditions, a special thank you has to go to the marshals especially for the Friday night when they were all stood out in the pouring rain.” “Thank you also to my parents Eian and Helen for giving me the opportunity to compete, I think the result was the birthday present my Dad was hoping for and finally but so crucial to my ability to compete, thank you to my sponsors for the rally: North Road Garage, Harkness competition tyres, Pirelli and Monaville Guesthouse”

    Pritchard’s victory would have been seen by thousands across the world as the event was live streamed during both the stages and the service.

    Winning in the Isle of Man for a fourth time now means that the Welshman now leads the Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally Championship, the next round is in Belgium on the 9th June

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