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18-year-old Ed Fossey got his 2017 BTRDA rallying campaign underway in Cumbria last weekend (11 March) in his Yokohama-backed Toyota Yaris. Starting car 114 on the road, the Jersey-born driver overcame a variety of problems to claim 88th overall and more importantly sixth in the 1400S class on only his second gravel rally in his Japanese machine.

The first round of the BTRDA rally series was due to get underway on the Cambrian Rally in north Wales last month. Snow and frozen forest tracks saw the event wisely cancelled due to safety concerns. The opening round would now be the Malcolm Wilson Rally with the championship kicking off in Cumbria, outside the famous M-Sport World Rally Team headquarters. A star-studded line-up would see Fossey line-up amongst some of the best crews from the British Rally Championship including previous BRC champions Keith Cronin and David Bogie.

Organisers of each rally seed cars based on expected and previous performance, and with Ed being new to gravel rallying – he was to be placed in a lowly 114th. The Bournemouth University student put that behind him and was eager to show his worth and leap forward with navigator Chris Shapre-Simkiss calling the notes

“It started off badly as we went wide and got stuck into a ditch on the opening stage,” said Fossey. ”We managed to get back out and get our heads down. Starting so far back on the road was difficult as the stages became quite rutted in places and on the first few stages we were driving in what can only be described as train tracks – and this didn’t allow me to take my own lines.”

The Channel Islander notched up several top three times in his class – just a handful of seconds behind the front runners. Ed’s speed and commitment was unquestionable and showed the pace was there for events to come.

“A few things didn’t go my way on the event and Chris wasn’t feeling well all weekend, but you always have to look at the positives. This was only my second rally on gravel in the Toyota so I was pleased to experience every condition possible – vital experience for the rest of the season. It was my first time in the car since the Jersey Rally which was tarmac, so it was weird initially to have the car sliding around a lot more – but it didn’t take long to get back into the swing of things.”

Sitting sixth in the 1400S class standings after round one, Fossey is ever the optimist and believes more is to come in the future.

“A lot of people retired and we could have been one of them so the rally was all about clocking up the miles, get the experience and chalk up some points. Those points could be important come the end of the year.

“We have a month or so before the Somerset Stages. We aim for a clean run and set more good stage times. We are pleased with where we are and I want to show another step forward next time and continue our progression. The next round has more fantastic stages and even has some tarmac which I look forward to and hopefully use that to my advantage and take some time out of people.”

The next round of the BTRDA gravel series will be the Somerset Stages on the 8 April.

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