Swedish rally star Fredrik Åhlin will contest the MSA British Rally Championship for the first time in 2016, driving a CA1 Sport-prepared Ford Fiesta R5.
The 24-year old driver from Karlstad has only rallied twice in the UK, contesting Wales Rally GB in 2011 (driving a Fiesta R2) and in 2015 (Fiesta R5). He has however worked with the Carlisle-based CA1 Sport team for the last two years, driving on selected WRC events using a Fiesta R5 in the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship and a LeoVegas.com-backed Ford in the 2015 Swedish Rally Championship and WRC. Even though all the BRC events will be completely new to him, Åhlin will benefit greatly from the experience of the CA1 Sport squad, which is run by Colin McRae’s former number one M-Sport mechanic, Martin Wilkinson.
Åhlin aims to contest all seven rounds of the 2016 BRC, as well as selected rounds of WRC2. His first rally of 2016 will be his home WRC2 round, Rally Sweden (12-14 February), before the car travels to the UK ahead of the opening round of the BRC, the Mid Wales Stages (5-6 March).
Åhlin’s Fiesta R5 will be supported in the BRC by LeoVegas.com, Fuchs Oils and Pirelli.
Åhlin said: “I haven’t done any rounds of the British Rally Championship before, but Martin [Wilkinson] has been telling me a lot about the events and I am really looking forward to it. I think there will be a lot of R5 cars starting the championship, and a lot of good competition. It’s great that Elfyn Evans is coming back to do the BRC, because for sure that will be a very good benchmark for us and allow us to compare ourselves against a very good WRC driver.
“I hear that the Mid Wales Stages is near to where we did parts of Wales Rally GB last year, so it will be good to start a brand new championship on stages where at least the characteristics are a little familiar. I’ve always found the Welsh forest stages to have quite good grip, even when there is a lot of water on them, so it will be more or less flat out from the beginning! On Wales Rally GB last year we had some technical problems on the first day and had to superally, but after that we were setting some good times and fighting in WRC2 with the likes of Craig Breen, so hopefully we can take that momentum to the Mid Wales Stages and start the BRC season off well. It’s going to be an exciting year contesting the BRC. I want to go out and enjoy it, and of course I want to score some top results. For sure we have the car and team to do it.”
Wilkinson said: “There’s no doubting Fredrik’s pace. He has proven he can run at the sharp end on WRC2 rounds, which are extremely competitive, and hopefully he can transfer that raw speed into solid points and podium finishes during this year’s BRC. It’s important to start quick out of the blocks on these mostly single day events and coming directly from Rally Sweden should help. We plan to do some testing prior to Mid Wales to help him re-adjust to gravel driving using Pirelli tyres. He also knows the car very well having used the Fiesta R5 on so many events to date. It’s going to be an exciting year for all involved and we have more news to come regarding Fredrik’s CA1 Sport team-mates. Personally I’d like to thank our partners Pirelli and Fuchs Oils for their trust in us and support for 2016.”