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Former Pirelli Star Driver, 28-year-old Finn, Jukka Korhonen, took a dominant victory on the opening round of the Citroën Racing Trophy UK. Citroën DS3 R3s took an amazing top five places on this opening MSA British Rally Championship round in the forests around Carlisle. The Pirelli Richard Burns Foundation Rally was in honour of the former World Rally Champion.

No fewer than 11 DS3s started this opening CRT UK round. Ahead were six stages on day one, and four on day two using the famous Kielder forest complex. It was Jukka Korhonen who took a four second lead over Alastair Fisher on the first stage, with Tom Cave another four seconds back in third, and a pattern began to develop, as Jukka stretched his lead to 13.3 seconds with fastest times on stages two and three.

Behind the leaders, John MacCrone, also on his CRT UK debut was making an impression, now moving into third, as Tom Cave suffered from his seeding and caught a car in stage 3. Pirelli Star Driver Mark Donnelly in sixth was unhappy with his set-up, and changed the springs on his DS3 for the afternoon repeat loop. Brendan Cumiskey back in 13th was having some issues with torque steer, and was settling into the event. Tenth placed Peter Taylor, another new-comer to the DS3 R3, was struggling with a lack of test mileage and the sheer pace of the leaders.

Stage four, Pundershaw 2 and Alastair Fisher who drove so well on the recent WRC Portugal event, took his maiden CRT UK fastest time, just 0.3 of a second ahead of Korhonen. The Finn turned the tables once more on stage five, Archys Rigg 2, finishing 4.2 seconds ahead of Jonny Greer on what proved to be a dramatic test. Jonny, who had a slow start to the event, was now warming up in the DGM-prepared machine, but as he found speed others hit real trouble on a square corner where there was an opportunity to cut. Alastair Fisher perhaps suffered least, as he was able to drive out of the test with a front puncture, losing about 30 seconds. John MacCrone and Osian Pryce who were lying third and fourth respectively, were less lucky. Both had to stop and change tyres, MacCrone dropping 11 places and Osian 17 places. Desi Henry was sixth going into stage five, but was another to suffer a puncture.

A fired-up Alastair Fisher was fastest on the day’s final stage, but Jukka Korhonen in the Autosport Technology-run DS3 had a faultless day, and held a one-minute lead over Tom Cave, who in turn had a recovering Alastair Fisher just nine seconds further back. Then it was Mark Donnelly in fourth, 24 seconds further back and he had Jonny Greer snapping at his heels. Peter Taylor rounded off the day in sixth with Brendan Cumiskey eighth, Desi Henry ninth and James Grint tenth.

Day two’s four stages were in the Kershope forestry area, and the opening Newcastleton stage was to immediately side-line three crews. Both fourth placed Mark Donnelly and ninth placed Desi Henry suffered similar fates after launching their cars over an unexpectedly large jump. Two broken radiators meant two retirements and this stage also claimed Brendan Cumiskey, with an off road excursion.

Alastair Fisher was fastest on Newcastleton and took fastest times on the next two tests, with a recovering John MacCrone taking his first fastest CRT UK time on the final stage. Alastair’s charge would see him move back into second place by the finish and MacCrone back to fifth, picking up valuable points. For Tom Cave third is also a valuable points gathering exercise, with the bonus of 1500€. Jonny Greer kept out of trouble to claim fourth, with Peter Taylor seventh, a deflated Osian Pryce thirteenth and James Grint fourteenth after dropping time on the final stages.

But Jukka Korhonen and co-driver Marko Salminen played the event perfectly, backing off on the final day’s four tests to arrive at the Carlisle Racecourse finish with a handsome 42.5 second advantage. Naturally Jukka was delighted to win on his DS3 debut, with the added bonus of scooping the 4000€ first prize. “I really like this event and these sort of fast, flowing stages.” said Jukka. “I knew that I would have to make a break for it yesterday, and everything worked out perfectly. The car, Marko, everything was good, and I’m really very happy!”

Round One- Pirelli Richard Burns Foundation Rally- Overall Results

1st   Jukka Korhonen/ Marko Salminen DS3 R3  1hr 13m 57.7
2nd Alastair Fisher/ Gordon Noble DS3 R3 +42.5 s
3rd Tom Cave/ Ieuan Thomas  DS3 R3  +1m09.4s
4th  Jonny Greer/ Kirsty Riddick DS3 R3 +2m53.9s
5th John MacCrone/ Phil Pugh  DS3 R3   +4m19.5s

7th Peter Taylor/ Andrew Roughead  DS3 R3 +4m48.9s
13th Osian Pryce/ Dale Furniss DS3 R3 +8m08.0s
14th  James Grint/ Anthony Litchfield  DS3 R3 +10m30.1s

Citroën Racing Trophy UK- Drivers Championship- After Round 1

1st   Jukka Korhonen 25pts
2nd Alastair Fisher 18
3rd Tom Cave  15
4th  Jonny Greer 12
5th John MacCrone 10
6th  Peter Taylor 6

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