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manxnat15 (6)The largest entry in a decade saw challenging conditions for the crews on the Isle of Man. Paul Bird & Aled Davies (Focus WRC) struck early and held a comfortable lead after the first four stages before Melvyn Evans & Mark Glennerster (Impreza WRC) struck back on stage 5 to cut the gap back to 20 seconds. It was short lived however as Evans was unable to start stage 6 due to electrical issues so Bird took an overnight lead of just under a minute ahead of Jason Pritchard & Phil Clarke (Focus WRC). After level pegging roughly on Saturday’s opening pair of stages, Bird started to extend his lead and he had almost a minute and three quarters going in to stage 11. That stage would see the demise of Bird though as he punctured early on and by the time the wheel was changed the lead had long since gone and he retired from the rally. This left Pritchard to back up his 2014 win with another excellent result in 2015.

He was pushed hard by Damian Cole & Jack Morton (Focus WRC) who were 3rd overnight. Cole had chipped away and brought the gap down to just over 40 seconds mid way through the Saturday stages but Pritchard had a late push to secure victory with a 58 second winning margin. The final step of the podium was not without its own dramas too as Arron Newby & Rob Fagg (Impreza) came out on top after an event long battle with Steve Colley & Andrew Cowley (Evo IX) and Nigel & Jade Cannell (Evo IX). Cannell had been in the box seat at the start of Saturday but a one minute road penalty for checking in early saw a podium spot slip from his grasp. First 2WD crew home were Martyn Jones & Martin Burns (Nova) in 9th overall. Using local knowledge in the wet and dark of Friday night they were as high as 7th overall but dry roads and daylight saw more powerful 4WD crews move past them. Special mention must also go Jamie Jukes & Dave Williams (Astra) who were 2nd 2WD crew and 13th overall. This came from a seeding of car number 73, in a road rally car and on their first visit to the island. A truly remarkable result!

 

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