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Barnsley rally driver David White had a difficult start to the season last weekend when he contested the opening round of the 2017 Prestone MSA British Rally Championship (BRC), the Border Counties Rally.

After two hard fought days in the forests surrounding the Jedburgh base, White and son Matthew in the co-drivers seat, overcame transmission issues during Friday night to finish runner up in the BRC4 category and 26th overall.

The two-time Group N National Asphalt Rally champion has made the switch to a Ford Fiesta R2 for an assault on the prestigious series this season and is a relative newcomer to the loose surface of a forest rally.

With the BRC taking place on both surfaces, White has ambitions of gradually building his pace on the gravel whilst calling on his experience for the closed road events.

Having just two gravel rallies under his belt, White would have to learn fast if he was to compete against some of the best drivers in the business in Scotland.

The two day event kicked off with the ceremonial start below Jedburgh Abbey on Friday (17th March) night and two stages under the cover of darkness awaited the BRC crews. Heavy rain would hamper progress for many through the opening test in Craik forest and White confessed to a slower than usual start as he settled into the relatively new machine.

Contesting a gravel event at night was also a first for White so he was pleased to make it to the end of the leg, albeit with some issues.

“We have had some gear change problems in that second stage tonight and it’s not selecting the right gear” he said at the end of day service. “Its cost us a lot of time but we will take a look at it now and see what is causing it”.

But it wasn’t a straightforward fix and it was only thanks to the hard work of the team, that the transmission was removed, rebuilt and replaced overnight. It wasn’t without its consequences however and due to being late into parc ferme, White would pick up a ten minute penalty.

Day two would house the bulk of the event mileage and equipped with a freshly build gearbox, White headed out for seven stages in the Wauchope and Tweed Valley forests.  Unable to challenge for BRC4 honours due to his overnight penalty, he was able to concentrate on his own pace throughout the remainder of the event, finally bringing the 1600cc Fiesta safely over the Jedburgh ceremonial finish line.

“Well that certainly wasn’t the easiest of starts to our British Rally Championship campaign” said White at the finish.

“That said, I`m actually pretty happy with how it’s gone for us this weekend.  It was always going to be difficult just turning up and challenging for class honours straight away. I have a lot to learn about the car and the events too so it’s all going to be a learning curve for us this season.”

But White believes a finish was more important that outright speed at the weekend.

“It was all about getting some points down early on this year. With the next round on gravel as well we will have to continue to build our pace gradually until we head to the Belgium for the Ypres Rally in the summer which is the first round on asphalt. Until then, points are the goal so it’s been a successful weekend”.

The next round of the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship takes place in Cumbria with the two-day Pirelli Carlisle Rally on 29th/30th April.

White is running under the Two 4 Motorsport Team banner and are supported by Mirage E Cigarettes, F & G Commercials, DAF, Whites Bakery, Speedline Wheels and Pirelli.

You can follow the team on social media via Facebook and Twitter.

Image courtesy of Jakob Ebrey Photography

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