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After scoring fifth Prestone MSA British Rally Championship Junior in the Ypres Rally just a few days ago in Belgium, Norwegian Oscar Solberg and co-driver Patrik Barth will be heading to the mixed surface event with hopes of climbing back up the leaderboard and into the podium positions once again after winning the opening round of the series in March.

Driving the Ford Fiesta 1.0litre EcoBoost R2T, Solberg will have a new team-mate for the rally in 17-year-old Irishman Josh McErlean with co-driver Aaron Johnston alongside. The Nicky Grist Stages marks McErlean’s inaugural foray into a top-line R2 car, having battled with a self-run Citroen C2 for the opening rounds of the season. Despite his own car being outdated, the youngster put in a series of impressive stage times, prompting Team Principal Mike Harris to sign him up for the Grist.

With the upcoming event offering a unique feature of both gravel and asphalt surfaces to contend with, both MH Motorsport Junior drivers are looking forward to the challenge ahead and for Solberg, the opportunity to get back towards the front of the standings in his inaugural year of the British Championship.

“The Ypres Rally was so hard and we found too many ditches in Belgium,” said Solberg. “But we had good speed when everything was working OK and I think we could have had a good result. For sure this weekend will be tough, moving from gravel to tar is always difficult but I am confident in the car and me so we will try and be at the front”.

McErlean was due to join the MH Motorsport Junior team in Belgium but a local law prevented him from taking the start. He will now get his first taste of the R2T Fiesta in Wales and is looking forward to the opportunity a front-running car will offer him.

“We will have to enter the event with a level head and look to gain confidence with every mile,” says McErlean. “As the event progresses then I`m hoping the speed will come although we won’t have much time to settle in with the change from gravel on Saturday to tar on Sunday. I probably won’t get to drive the Fiesta before shakedown so it will certainly be a challenge, however it is one that I am truly looking forward to!”

The Nicky Grist Stages contains around 44 miles of gravel competition across the forest stages near to its Builth Wells base on Saturday 8th July. Teams will then face a race against time to ready the cars for asphalt trim ahead of over 70 miles of sealed surface action on the Epynt Military Ranges on Sunday.

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Image credit Jakob Ebrey Photography

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