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Matt Edwards storms to a dominant British Rally Championship victory on the Trackrod Rally Yorkshire
Matt Edwards stormed to a dominant victory on the Trackrod Rally Yorkshire (24-25 September), winning the 56 stage mile gravel forest event in his Yuasa Rally Team Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 by an incredible 32. 8 seconds – having set fastest time on five of the six stages.
It was Matt’s second win of the season and the result puts his British Rally Championship title challenge right back on track.
The key to success was a masterful performance over the event’s opening Friday night stage. Over the 11 mile high-speed blast through Dalby forest in the dark, Matt and co-driver Darren Garrod were 17.3 seconds quicker than their closest rivals to take a lead that they would never surrender.
With the pressure eased, Matt was able to enjoy driving the Yuasa Battery, TPS and Swift Group-backed Polo GTI R5 as the event restarted on Saturday morning.
It shouldn’t have been easy, especially against such top class opposition and running 111th on the road (behind historic and two-wheel drive cars), but with confidence high and the right Pirelli tyres for the conditions the 36-year-old Colwyn Bay driver was able to extend his advantage over the remaining five daylight stages.
He was over three seconds faster than anyone else over each of the Cropton, Gale Rigg and Staindale stages to arrive at mid-day service in Filey, on the North Yorkshire coast, after four stages with his lead increased to 28.6 seconds.
Matt was third fastest through the penultimate Langdale stage, before heading back into Dalby – where he set a time 14.8 seconds quicker than he’d been in the dark the night before to secure a truly remarkable BRC victory.
His Melvyn Evans Motorsport team Polo GTI hadn’t missed a beat – and with Matt fine-tuning the car’s set-up to his liking, his BRC bonus points-scoring Joker still to be played and the scores to drop working in his favour, he looks on course to win his third straight BRC drivers’ title.
“For me the Trackrod Rally began a week ago when I started going through the pace notes and the historical footage of the event to make sure we nailed the opening stage in the dark,” said Matt.
“A lot of work went into that stage and it was the key to building an early lead and taking the pressure off for when the rally restarted in daylight. And with the pressure off you can drive better and more freely. I just felt that I could play around with the car as it gave me so much more confidence and I was relaxed enough to drive well. I’m still learning the Polo R5, but it was fantastic to be able to drive the car in that way. Everything just clicked. The car worked well, we picked the right Pirelli tyres and it’s been a fairly effortless rally – which shows that everything worked as it should have.
“I’m obviously very pleased to win the event by such a big margin. It’s good leverage for the future. I want to go to Europe and do more events and it shows that the pace is there. There is always the bigger picture and for next year who knows?”
The next round of the British Rally Championship is the Beatson’s Building Supplies Mull Rally (8-9 October).
Trackrod Rally Yorkshire – top 10 finishers
1. Matt Edwards/Darren Garrod (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5)….53mins 17.0secs
2. Osian Pryce/Noel O Sullivan (Volkswagen Polo R5)….53mins 49.8secs
3. Matthew Wilson/Stuart Loudon (Ford Fiesta Rally2)….53mins 50.6secs
4. Ollie Mellors/Max Freeman (Proton Iriz R5)….55mins 07.2secs
5. Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson (Ford Fiesta)….55mins 41.3secs
6. Garry Jennings/Rory Kennedy (Ford Fiesta R5)….55mins 51.2secs
7. James Wilson/Arthur Kierans (Hyundai i20)….56mins 02.5secs
8. Garry Pearson/Niall Burns (Škoda Fabia)….56mins 11.4secs
9. Seb Perez/Gary McElhinney (Ford Fiesta Rally2)….56mins 34.0secs
10 Keith Cronin/Mikie Galvin (Ford Fiesta)….56mins 37.1secs
British Rally Championship – overall Drivers’ points after Round 4
1. Osian Pryce….66pts
2. Matt Edwards….62pts
3. Matthew Wilson….53(J)pts
4. Rhys Yates….53(J)pts
5. Sam Moffett….37pts
6. Josh Moffett….24pts