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Jukka Korhonen and Marko Salminen finished the final stage of the Pirelli Richard Burns Foundation Rally 42.5 seconds clear of the chasing pack, making the 29 year old the first Finn to win a round of the MSA British Rally Championship since Jari-Matti Latvala ten year ago.

The pair led from start to finish in their Citroën DS3 R3T, building a lead of around a minute before easing off on Sunday when Alastair Fisher/Gordon Noble’s early challenge was curtailed by a puncture on Saturday’s fifth stage.

The victory was a smooth one; car and team working seamlessly on the eighty mile event, with Korhonen admitting that he had speed to spare if needed. With the win comes a maximum points haul towards a championship title that he had vowed to win as long ago as last year – so far, so good.

Fisher was lucky to only drop around a minute, clipping a rock that cost several others several minutes, the Ulsterman then able to climb back from fifth with five fastest stage times from the ten available.

Top seeds Tom Cave and Ieuan Thomas regained third, having also dropped to fifth after the first loop of stages on Saturday. They were unlucky to catch a trailing car from a previous event, but while John MacCrone/Phil Pugh and Osian Pryce/Dale Furniss initially benefitted, they both succumbed to punctures, allowing Cave back ahead.

BRC regular for the last few years Jonny Greer had Kirsty Riddick alongside, the pair taking a well-deserved fourth, but admitting that the pace was just too hot although he was happy with his improvement as the event progressed.

MacCrone was rarely out of the top finishers on the ten stages, but the stage five rock and subsequent puncture effectively put an end to hopes of a podium finish. However, the Scot did finish with a flourish with a fastest time on the very last run, allowing him to grab fifth place, albeit over four minutes adrift of the leader.

MSA British Manufacturers Championship
With a blanket of DS3s across the top five in the overall classification, it is inevitable that Citroën lead the British Manufacturers Rally Championship with maximum points. But it is also testament to the marque that the two older C2R2 Max models running further down the order also finished the event.

BRC Teams Cup
The BRC Teams Cup got underway with a win by DGM Sport courtesy of Fisher’s excellent second place overall, although his team-mate Mark Donnelly didn’t fare so well, retiring after a big jump damaged the car. Second is Morris Lubricants DMS, despite having just Tom Cave scoring points for the new team, but it is just the top placed driver who scores, so they are still in with a shout as the season progresses. Culina Palletforce Racing is third following John MacCrone’s fight-back, but team-mate Peter Taylor was frustrated not be higher, hoping for more speed as the season progresses.

BRC RallyTwo, Pirelli Star Driver & Fiesta SportTrophy
MacCrone’s fifth was at the expense of Fiesta crew Steve Røkland and James Aldridge, who nevertheless stamped their authority on the new BRC RallyTwo category and Fiesta SportTrophy. An excellent drive to sixth overall in their Fiesta R2 was more than enough to earn Røkland the first Pirelli Star Driver nomination of the season.

Their winning RallyTwo margin of well over a minute belies the potential for extremely close competition between the R2 class runners. Jon Armstrong/Martin Brady had posted a time just four seconds behind Norwegian Røkland on the opening test, but clipped a bridge and bent the rear axle, having a miserable Sunday too, with a bent front suspension arm.

Mantis Best Presented Car Award
Reigning MSA British Junior Rally Champion Garry Pearson had Tom Hynd back alongside, taking a very creditable second place in RallyTwo on their first gravel event in the pristine Fiesta. The immaculately turned-out car attracted the attention of BRC sponsor Mantis Instant Shine, presenting them with the first Mantis Best Presented Car trophy and with it a cheque for £250.

Like Korhonen, another driver with a vow to win is Daniel McKenna who, partnered by Arthur Kierans has promised to grab himself a PSD nomination. But despite giving second best to two Fiesta rivals after a dreaded stage five puncture, he posted five fastest RallyTwo times and proved he will be a force in future.

RAVENOL BRC Newcomers Award
Armstrong may have had a suspension-bending time on his first Pirelli RBF rally, but he did at least take top points in the RAVENOL BRC Newcomers Award, the end-of season prize worth £2000 in product-support. He was followed home in the new category by Swedes Mattias Olsson and Patrik Barth who had a similarly torrid time. They struggled with an engine that refused to rev above 5000rpm, unsuccessfully spending hours on Saturday night trying to resolve the problem.

MSA British Junior Rally Championship & Twingo Trophy
Third newcomer and leading MSA British Junior driver was Harry Threlfall with experienced co-driver Andy Bull on the pacenotes. The Somerset youngster had made the long journey and huge leap to the BRC, but was not overwhelmed by the experience. Far from it, he was almost certainly the most enthusiastic driver in the field, beaming and revelling in the new experience.

Their main rivals for the Juniors and Twingo Renaultsport Trophy UK, father and son Ben and Jason Mckay, had started to close the early gap, but disappointingly retired on stage eight with a broken engine mount.

BRC Driver Quotes
It is difficult to include all the crews in a post event press release, but the hard-working BRC media team has provided quotes and photos from every crew at the end of every stage where phone signal would allow. So to catch up on the trials and tribulations of all the crews click HERE

BRC on Sky Sports
Greenlight Television’s coverage of the opening round of the MSA British Rally Championship will be shown on Sky Sports 3 in a week’s time (Monday 13th May) at 18:30. If you miss the action then, click HERE for the full broadcast schedule.

Results and Points
Full results and championship tables are listed on the BRC website http://www.rallybrc.co.uk under the Events and Results tab or by clicking HERE

Next Event
The second round of both the MSA British Rally Championship and its support series, the NGK Spark Plugs BRC Challenge is the Jim Clark Rally which takes place in the Scottish Borders countryside around Berwickshire on Friday 31st May and Saturday 1st June.

For more information on the MSA British Rally Championship visit http://www.rallybrc.co.uk

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