Welsh rally ace Osian Pryce and co-driver Noel O’Sullivan took the early initiative at the 2021 Beatson’s Building Supplies Mull Rally, to lead the British Rally Championship charge after the opening leg of the event.
Five gruelling stages and over 50 miles would open proceedings on Friday night, but it would take just a handful of corners of the opening test to turn the BRC title battle on its head. Two-time champion Matt Edwards would launch his Volkswagen Polo GTi off the road after a “brain fade” moment, leaving Melvyn Evans Motorsport teammate Pryce to sail off into the distance.
Edwards had to effect stage-side repairs to continue and would lose around 15 minutes in the process. However, with over 100 stage miles remaining, maximum BRC1 points are still all to play for.
“Its been an OK night to be honest” said Pryce.
“We have been listening to all the advice we have been given and just tried to bring the car back in one piece, but I have to say that last stage, even at 70 or 80 per cent [commitment] was one of the best stages I’ve ever driven. Not sure daylight will be much better tomorrow [Saturday] will be any better to be honest with you. With the position we are in, we just have to stick to the plan and keep driving as we are.”
Garry Pearson and Niall Burns took the early lead in the National Rally Title, threading his Mitsubishi Evo IX through the narrow island roads. However, whilst nursing brake issues on the longer stages Person would make a trip into a fence on the final test of the night, handing BRC returnee’s John Morrison and Peter Carstairs the lead in their Fiesta R5. However, less than five seconds separate them from Alistair and Colin Inglis in their similar machine.
Punctures or Donnie MacDonald/Jamie Edwards and Jason Black/Karl Egan dropped them down the order during the night whilst Stu Mclaren and Eoghan Anderson hauled their Historic Kadette through the wet cliffside roads.
The Junior BRC battle was as intense as ever with Finlay Retson and Rhys Stoneman storming to an early lead in their Fiesta Rally4. Retson stayed largely out of trouble to enter a thrilling fight with Peugeot 208 R2 crew of Kyle White and Grace O’Brien. However, both crews suffered late drama’s with Retson losing all brakes over the 14 mile final stage of the leg and White suffering a puncture.
Enter into the fray William Creighton and Liam Regan who had been nursing clutch issues in their Fiesta Rally4. A gearbox change in service did little to help the problems but that didn’t stop the Northern Irishman. A sensational time over the last stage saw him vault into the lead with a 30 second gap to Retson.
Championship leader Eamonn Kelly and Conor Mohan are third after a loss of lights, as James Boland and John McCay sit fourth. Johnnie Mulholland and Calum Maguire lead the Academy as nearest challenger Fraser Anderson was forced to withdraw after shakedown with engine issues. Rupert Flynn and Glyn Thomas completed the night in their Fiesta Rally4.
Saturday offers the only stages in daylight with over 50 competitive miles in store before a short break and the remaining 49 miles back under the cover of darkness. Tobermory will greet crews at around 2am on Sunday morning for the finish.