Junior British Rally Championship (JBRC) front runners Marty Gallagher and James Williams will join forces with EDSL Sport at the iconic Renties Ypres Rally (28 – 29 June), each driving a 2019 specification M-Sport Ford Fiesta R2T.
Piloting his own Peugeot 208 R2 for the opening three rounds of the British Championship, Gallagher will make the switch to the EDSL run Ford Fiesta MK8 R2T for the fourth round of the series in a bid to gain valuable experience in a top-spec machine for the future. He will be joined by regular co-driver Dean O’ Sullivan.
After driving one the firm’s Ford Fiesta R2T’s at the season-opening Cambrian Rally in February, Williams and reigning JBRC champion co-driver Tom Woodburn will head to Belgium behind the wheel of one of the next generation examples. The opportunity to pilot one of the most modern R2’s on the market will put Williams right in the thick of the battle for JBRC honours on the tricky Ypres roads.
EDSL Sport has fielded a two and three car team in the British Championship this season. An opportunity arose for the Hampshire based squad to have both Gallagher and Williams in the firm’s new Fiesta’s and with both deals being sealed this week, they will take on some of the most talented Junior drivers in Europe across the unique asphalt roads in Ypres.
Gallagher makes the switch from Peugeot to the EDSL Sport Ford Fiesta in Belgium
Image credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography – Click to download high res version –
Gallagher has shown an impressive form in the JBRC over the past few years, but has been unlucky to not clinch the title during his four years in the championship. His 2019 campaign has seen a podium at the Cambrian Rally but a West Cork retirement and fifth in Carlisle means his title fight is all but over for the 23 year old. This offers the Letterkenny driver opportunity to sample a Fiesta without the pressures of a championship.
After the opener in Wales, Williams would utilise his own car for the asphalt of the West Cork Rally in Ireland, scoring an impressive second spot despite using the somewhat outdated Vauxhall Adam. Sadly, he was forced to miss the Pirelli Rally last month but will re-join the championship for round four and will be back with a familiar team.
Being behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta in the 2019 JBRC offers the chance to vie for a prize fund of 60,000 Euros towards a season in the Junior World Rally Championship in 2020 which has been provided by M-Sport Poland and Pirelli.
As official M-Sport UK re-sellers, EDSL Sport has fielded several rapid youngsters in their Fiesta’s this season but Team Manager Alex Waterman believes that the new line-up could give the Ford its first JBRC victory.
“It’s always going to be tricky to jump from your own car into something like the new Fiesta but I really think that Marty (Gallagher) and James (Williams) are two of those naturally gifted drivers that learn very quickly, and could well be on the pace from the beginning” he says.
“Ypres is such a unique place and can take several years to master but both drivers have experience of the stages and with the new car beneath them, I think either has an excellent chance of being a the forefront of the JBRC battle. We are very excited to have them on board for Belgium. The team are looking forward to their feedback and what the future holds”.
The Renties Ypres Rally offers around 280km of flat out action, spread across 23 stages from the historic rally base of Ypres.
What they said:
Marty Gallagher said:
“I met Alex (Waterman, Team Manager) at the Fiesta launch in Poland and were interested in the car but our plans were already set to use the Peugeot in 2019.
But as the championship isn’t going according to plan, we have decided to already look at next year and get a head start for the new changes (to the JBRC).
I’m going there to win and have done Ypres twice now so hopefully experience will play it’s part. It’s a matter of learning the car and go from there really. I`m really looking forward to seeing what I can do on the stages and compare times with the 208 lads.
But the M-Sport / Pirelli prize for this year is still up for grabs, so hopefully if we have three good events in the car, it will put us up there with a fighting chance for the prize.”
James Williams said:
“This is a great opportunity offered to us by EDSL Sport.
I’ve had a strong desire to drive the new Ford Fiesta R2T (for a while) and we have been working hard to get a deal together for my favourite rally of 2019 (Ypres Rally). To know we will be there at the start line makes me so excited for the challenge ahead.
It hasn’t been the best season for us so far even though we showed great pace at the West Cork Rally despite having never competed there before. Having a poor start to the season has meant our championship hopes have been dashed, however, I know I can be fast in Ypres and a good result there in the new Fiesta will hopefully reignite our bid to win the M-Sport and Pirelli prize.
In my opinion, the biggest challenge is to improve on last year’s performance- which is going to be tough, given that we won (JBRC) and picked up first overall front wheel drive. However, I know where I can improve and extract more performance. If we get a successful test in the new car, I’m confident we can be fast and hopefully have a strong rally.”
More information on EDSL Sport can be found by visiting www.edslsport.co.uk