Jason Pritchard
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10/05/2016 by admin


Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke made history on the Isle of Man last Saturday (7th May) as they became the first crew to win the Manx National Rally three times in succession.

The Rally formed round two of the MSA Asphalt Rally Championship and the Ford Focus WRC duo led the 90-strong field from the word go to create history on the island.

The weekend was all about Pritchard and he didn’t fail to deliver under the pressure as he became the first man to win the event three years in a row. The impressive winning margin was two minutes and 51.3 seconds and the Welshman was understandably delighted to complete his hat-trick of victories:

“It was an incredible feeling when I crossed the finishing line to become the first person to win the Manx National Rally three times in a row. I can’t really come to terms with it, we’ve made history here and I’m so proud with what we’ve achieved. “10 years ago, I competed on my first Manx rally, unfortunately I retired on the second stage so to achieve this feat three times in a row is a dream come true, to win here just once is amazing, to now have done it three times in row – is unbelievable.”

This incredible achievement feat dawned on Pritchard as he closed in on the finish line:

“About half a mile from the finish of the final stage, I spotted my service crew who couldn’t hide their emotions, they were cheering me on slightly more on than usual! I flashed my lights to let them know everything was ok with the car – it was then when it started to hit home what we were going to achieve.”

Pritchard hadn’t been behind the wheel of his Focus WRC since the finish ramp at last year’s rally so it felt very alien behind the wheel – a lot different to his historic car he’s used to driving. The 27-year-old had failed to finish his previous rally in Carlisle so a good clean start was crucial out in the Isle of Man:

“Failing to finish in Carlisle was on my mind when we started the rally, I was really keen to get going but also make sure we stayed on the road. It didn’t take long to get back into the swing of things and the car felt amazing right from the start.”

Pritchard started confidently and after the first five stages on the Friday evening he had managed to build up a lead of 42.7 seconds over his nearest rival. However, things could have been slightly different due to a stray sheep that nearly ended the hat-trick dream:

“We were very lucky on the final Friday evening stage, flat out in 6th gear, I took a corner at full pace and as I did, a stray sheep jumped from the bank onto the road and I didn’t miss it by much – after looking back at the in-car video, I didn’t realise how close it was.”

Pritchard knew there was still lots to be done on the Saturday if he was going to win the rally for three times in a row and make history along the way:

“We checked the weather on Saturday morning and it was mixed, a dry start but with heavy rain predicted for the afternoon. We started off on dry tyres but the predicted rain arrived on the second stage and it became very slippy on the dry tyres so I had to hold back and make sure we kept the car on the road.”

Despite a small scare with the clutch before the second run up Tholt-y-Will, Pritchard and Clarke, his co-driver, managed another clean run over the final two stages to end up winner for the third time in a row by a winning time of just under three minutes.

Pritchard was delighted with the achievement but wanted to make sure that the efforts of his co-driver and team, didn’t go unnoticed:

“There are two of us in the car and without Phil calling the notes, there’s no way I could have won this rally once, let alone three times in a row. It’s amazing how he gets the information to me so clearly and quickly, he is a special talent and I trust him 100% when I’m sitting behind the wheel. “We always have great fun together and I can’t thank him enough for all his help and support. Every time we finish a stage, we want to go out and do it all over again!”

Pritchard also went on to thank his support team and family:

“Thanks to my sponsors North Road Garage Builth Wells, FCS Laser Mail, Pirelli and P&R Benn. This achievement wouldn’t be possible without their help and also the fantastic support I get from my amazing service crew: Christian and Steve. As always they were on the ball from the word go and the effort they put into each rally is second to none. “I also want to thank my parents for giving me such a wonderful opportunity to compete in rallying and being able to achieve history is my way of thanking them for all that they do for me. “Also I would like to thank Paul at P&R Benn for getting the car ready, making sure it was 100% and coming over on the Saturday to keep an eye on everything!”