18-year-old Ed Fossey sprayed the champagne at the weekend on the Somerset Stages Rally (Saturday 8 April), round two of the BTRDA Rally Championship – taking a dominant win in the 1400S class and with it, the championship lead. The Yokohama driver also drove his Toyota Yaris into a fine 21st overall, putting many experienced drivers in more powerful cars behind him.
Last time out, the Jersey-born driver overcame a number of challenges on the opening round, the Malcolm Wilson Rally, to notch up a solid sixth in the class standings. Coming into the second round, the Bournemouth University student was eager to break into the top five and progress his championship aspirations.
Starting from the Seaside town of Minehead, the 39th running of the legendary Somerset Stages Rally would see Ed and his rivals take on the challenging Exmoor Forests which played host to 12 challenging dusty gravel stages and two technical tarmac tests in the middle to spice up the action.
Starting at car 82 out of the 100 entries, the Next Big Step driver had only one objective in mind – to move forward and challenge towards the front of the class in his 1.4 litre Toyota Yaris.
On the opening run, Fossey immediately settled into a good rhythm as he and Blackpool-based co-driver Chris Sharpe-Simkiss nestled themselves into second in class and 33rd overall – just 2 seconds behind the class pacesetter, Chris Powell.
By stage two, the lead had been cut in half with the teenager on a charge and by stage three, Fossey led the class after the retirement of Powell in his Talbot Sunbeam. With a healthy margin behind, the former Victoria College student set about gaining a strong finish in the overall classification. With confidence running high, Ed threaded the nimble Yokohama Yaris through the tree-lined stages in what was only his third outing in the car on gravel.
A solid afternoons work by the Jerseyman enabled him to march into 21st overall as the cars returned to the Ceremonial Finish in Minehead. More importantly Fossey sprayed the champagne and with it clinched maximum points in the 1400S class with a healthy 1 minute 47 second gap to his nearest rival Tommi Meadows.
As the dust settled, Ed was pleased with his days work in Somerset.
“What an event! We had a really good weekend and everything went to plan,” said a delighted Fossey. “We hit the ground running and we were at the sharp end from the off and enjoyed a good scrap with Chris Powell. When Chris retired we pulled a gap and kept that lead. We did have a little bit of drama on stage five, when a rock snapped a brake pipe, which meant we lost one of the brakes at the front. Thankfully it was only a short stage.
“It was nice to take the class win and to spray some champagne and it’s a feeling I would love to repeat again. I am just as pleased with the overall position as we put some more powerful cars behind us showing the pace and competitiveness of the 1400S cars and the quality of the championship.
“We are really pleased to be leading the championship and it’s a position we would love to stay in. I am still treating it as a learning year and want to get good experience under my belt and keep out of trouble – that way the results will come. I also want to keep pushing when I can and find my limit and keep challenging at the front.
“The Plains Rally is up next and will offer similar challenges to the Somerset. I am keeping an open mind and going into it like any event. Gain the mileage and hopefully be in the hunt for a class podium once again.”
The next round of the BTRDA Rally Championship will see Ed and his rivals travel to Wales for the Plains Rally on Saturday 13 May. Classic stages include Dyfi and Gartheiniog which are used on Wales Rally GB – the British round of the World Rally Championship. Fossey leaves Somerset first overall in the Thomas Panels BTRDA 1400S championship standings and will be keen to maintain that position next time out.
2017 BTRDA Calendar
Round 1 – 11 March – Malcolm Wilson Rally – Lake District, Cockermouth
Round 2 – 8 April – Somerset Stages – Minehead, West Somerset
Round 3 – 13 May – Plains Rally – Welshpool, Montgomeryshire
Round 4 – 10 June – Carlisle Stages Rally – Kielder, Carlisle
Round 5 – 8 July – Nicky Grist Stages – Builth Wells, Powys
Round 6 – 2 September – Woodpecker Stages – Ludlow, Shropshire
Round 7 – 30 September – Trackrod Stages – Pickering, North Yorkshire