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This weekend will be remembered as the most challenging rally yet for the young Scottish driver Blair Brown (Kinross) and co-driver Richard Simmonds (Duns) who were competing in the DMACK Junior British Rally Championship at the Circuit of Ireland in the Burn Construction and QTS backed Ford Fiesta R2T. Blair Brown CoI16

After high hopes for a podium position, it was just not to be as the crew hit mechanical problems putting an early end to their rally on Sunday morning.

First time competing in a European Rally Championship an International Licence had to be obtained for the duo to enter this prestigious event competing against the best rally drivers in Europe.

Early into the first stage, SS1, Brown had a close shave when the car had a big spin flat out in 4th gear. Managing to quickly gain control they completed the stage with a competitive time and only minor damage to a wing mirror. SS2 proved to be much trickier as the changeable weather conditions made the roads extremely slippery. It was SS3 when their troubles started as the clutch began to slip. Determined to get back to the service park they nursed the car through SS4 and SS5 in road mode (half the power of stage mode) to prevent any further damage. Back at the service park it was all hands on deck to remove the gear box and replace the faulty clutch.  A valiant effort from the BBR team working late into the night in freezing weather conditions ensured a fighting chance for Rally 2 the next day.

Heading to the start of SS7 the next morning, it was a bitter blow to discover further problems and the pair were faced with no alternative other than to retire from the event for fear of further damage to the car.

Looking at the positives driver Blair Brown said:
“It was the most fantastic and valuable experience competing in a ERC event but a real shame the results didn’t quite go to plan.  The Circuit of Ireland lived up to its reputation as an incredible event with fast, technical stages and very unpredictable weather conditions. It’s very disappointing that we couldn’t continue on day two especially when the team made such an effort to get us back out. We’ve learnt a huge amount about the car on tarmac so we need to stay positive and focus on our next event, the Pirelli”.

Co- driver Richard Simmonds said:
“This was our first time rallying in Ireland so it was a new experience for us, especially to be competing amongst the best juniors in Europe. Sadly, the Irish luck was just not with us this weekend! The team deserved a better result after all the effort to get us to the start ramp. We need to take the knowledge gained from this event and improve our speed for the next round.”

The Ford Fiesta R2T will next be in action in three weeks’ time, 30 April – 1 May, on the Pirelli Carlisle Rally where the DMACK Junior British Rally Championship will switch to gravel for the third round.

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