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British rally co-driver Phil Hall enjoyed the best Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC) result of his career last weekend, finishing fourth in the closely fought series at Rally Sweden (14th – 17th February).

The demanding snow and ice covered stages lived up to their reputation as being highly unpredictable as the JWRC got underway in temperatures of up to minus 15 degrees, but the backed co-driver took it all in his stride, guiding fellow Briton Tom Williams to the perfect start to their 2019 campaign in the single-make championship.

Hall, 30 from Mansfield would embark on his fourth full season in the World Rally Championship and thanks to his experience from the past three seasons, would partner up with Williams for their second campaign in the JWRC together. Sixth place would be Hall’s previous best result in Turkey last year, but the Nottinghamshire ace was eager to secure some valuable points to kick-start his season.

The M-Sport Poland run series would see an updated car for 2019, with a new model Fiesta taking to the stages with little in common with its predecessor. Each driver will pilot the 200-brake horsepower R2 with a Ford Fiesta R5 and WRC2 entry on offer to the victor at the end of the season.

Despite the low temperatures, the conditions in the stages were such that the ice would turn to slush and gravel over the course of the event, making the going treacherous for the JWRC crews.

Equipped with studded Pirelli tyres to break into the ice, the powerful Fiesta would work well in the thick ice sections of stages, but struggle when the ice was dispersed by the leading cars, meaning the studs would break free from the rubber on the gravel.

Hall was well aware of the consequences of a poor tyre choice and along with Williams, devised a tyre strategy to try and minimise time loss on the stages. Thirteen crews lined up to tackle the event and after the first full day in the stages, Hall had guided Williams to sixth spot overnight.

Conditions would get no better during the course of the second day, but an adaptive approach saw Hall push Williams through the 14-kilometre Vargasen2 test to take his maiden top three JWRC time. This ensured Hall climb into 4 th spot by the end of the second leg with just three stages to go on Sunday.

Staying out of trouble for the final sprint, Hall was delighted to cross the finish ramp in fourth place on the season opener.

“This is a truly fantastic result for Tom and I on what was a really very demanding rally,” said Hall.

“Everything just clicked this weekend and we stuck to our strategy and really knuckled down to do our own thing this weekend. I was confident to push Tom when we could and try to manage the pace so that we didn’t take too many risks. The tyre plan we had worked too which really helped the result at it was a hard rally on the tyres, but everything was just right, from the rhythm in the car to the goals we had set ourselves. It’s great to be back in JWRC with M-Sport and this truly was the perfect way to kick-start the year”.

The five-round series now switches to asphalt and the Tour De Corse in France at the end of March.

Image credit M-Sport/JWRC

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