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Pryce Ulster13a– Pryce prevails in challenging Rally NI to secure maiden Citroën Racing Trophy UK victory ahead of Jukka Korhonen
– A number of key contenders fell victim to tricky tarmac conditions, including Alastair Fisher and early leader, Tom Cave

Twenty-year-old Welshman, Osian Pryce, took his first Citroën Racing Trophy UK and MSA British Rally Championship outright victory at Rally NI – an event which proved extremely challenging for the DS3 crews on the switch-back Ulster lanes.

Just as number-one seeds and series leaders Jukka Korhonen and Marko Salminen waited for the lunchtime start on Friday at Enniskillen, the heavens opened, making tyre selection difficult for the seven stages on day one. Korhonen was cautious at the outset, posting the 11th fastest time on stage one, but the Finn recovered well to place fourth by the first service.

While Korhonen and Salminen made up for lost time, many of their rivals fell victim to the tricky driving conditions. Alastair Fisher was one driver who – seeded second – began well, clocking the second quickest time on stage one and lying in third on the timesheets by the end of the second test. Disaster struck on the following stage though, as Fisher slid off the road, spelling the end of his bid for victory.

Another man to fall foul of the conditions was Tom Cave who had been the driver to beat early on; a superb start from the Welshman saw him build a lead of 30 seconds heading into the seventh and final stage of day one, but he slid wide at a right-hander, ending up on top of a ditch and he too saw his hopes of victory slip away.

Desi Henry and James Grint suffered similar fates, but all four drivers were able to re-join the action on day two and be eligible for points, thanks to the Super Rally rules. Fisher was therefore able to collect a handful of points and hold onto second in the drivers’ standings, just ahead of Tom Cave.

Pryce Ulster13bAs action got underway on day two, it was Osian Pryce who led from Jukka Korhonen and John McCrone. Friday’s drama continued into Saturday, as McCrone’s rally ended in a spectacular roll on a fast, bumpy section of the opening 13-mile stage of Sloughan Glen. The Citroën DS3 held up well in the high-speed accident and John and co-driver, Phil Pugh, were given the all-clear at a nearby hospital, despite sustaining some heavy bruising.

There was no such drama for leader Pryce, who took a further 12 seconds out of series leader, Jukka Korhonen early on. The top-two positions remained static throughout the second day and Pryce held on to take victory at Rally NI by over 50 seconds from Korhonen.

Behind Korhonen, it was Pirelli Star Driver, Mark Donnelly, who felt fully in-tune with his DS3, who moved up into third place, thanks to a series of fastest times, pushing Jonny Greer – who had inherited third after McCrone’s retirement – down to fourth.

Speaking after his victory, an ecstatic Pryce said: “That was one of the hardest rallies I have ever done, but it felt like the right time to win. We came close last year in Yorkshire, but this weekend I was really trying my hardest to win and it’s fantastic to do that for the team after our recent disappointments.”

Round five of the Citroën Racing Trophy UK takes place on the Rally Yorkshire event on September 27-28, where the DS3 R3s will have full gravel specification for this forestry event.

Citroën Racing Trophy UK- Drivers Championship standings after round four

1st  Jukka Korhonen 76 pts
2nd Alastair Fisher  66
3rd Tom Cave 64
4th Jonny Greer 58
5th Osian Pryce 48
6th James Grint  44
7th Mark Donnelly 42
8th John MacCrone 29
9th Peter Taylor  25
10th Brendan Cumiskey 22
11th  Desi Henry 12

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