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Irish rally ace Marty Gallagher was able to spray the Junior British Rally Championship champagne for the first time since February as he took the EDSL Sport Ford Fiesta R2T to second place at the Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally (14th September), the final round of the 2019 season.

Gallagher and co-driver Dean O`Sullivan were able to enjoy a trouble-free run in their M-Sport machine, even leading the hotly contested Junior series before settling for the runner up spot and a well-deserved finish.

Team-mate James Williams would bed in perfectly to the car, using it for the first time on gravel in Scotland, leading the Fiesta contingent for much of the 75 mile event.

Sadly, on the seventh stage of the rally, Williams and co-driver Tom Woodburn ended their event off the road after suspension failure. Their hopes of scooping the €60,000 prize from M-Sport and Pirelli towards a season in the 2020 FIA Junior World Rally Championship evaporating on the spot.

Hampshire based EDSL Sport are the official M-Sport re-sellers for the UK and as such, have attracted some of the most talented junior pilots to the stable, each bidding to secure the coveted Junior British Rally Championship honours. Williams scored a dominant Ypres Rally win back in June and has since had his eyes on the JWRC prize fund, whilst Gallagher has been searching for an elusive podium since joining the squad in Belgium.

Nine stages were on offer in classic Scottish tests such as Dalbeattie and Black Loch and the EDSL Sport duo could only be separated by a tenth of a second after the slippery opener. Gallagher edged ahead after the second pass of the stage before being overhauled by Williams, now sitting in second and third positions overall in the Junior fight.

The sixth stage saw Williams move into the JBRC lead with Gallagher close behind, giving EDSL Sport an impressive one-two on the leader board. However, disaster struck for Williams on the following stage as the Fiesta was sent into a ditch and retirement.

That left Gallagher to pick up the lead but electing to search for a finish rather than an outright win, he returned a mature drive over the closing stages to bag second place and end his season on a high.

“This [a podium] has been a long time coming seeing as the last time I’ve finished a rally was all the way back in March, so it’s great to have a finish under my belt let alone a podium” said Gallagher.

“Everything went perfectly today for us, in fact, it was faultless to be honest. The car was great and Dean [O’Sullivan] did a great job on the notes, so of course I`m really happy with this result. There is more to come from us, it’s a shame the season is over and we are looking our plans for next year closely, hopefully the bad luck is over and done with now”.

Team Principle Alex Waterman was relived to get Gallagher to the finish.

“It was our main goal this weekend to get Marty to the end of the rally so for him to take second place is a real bonus for the team “ he says.

“We always knew having Marty in the team would be a real asset and he proved he has the natural ability, given it’s the first time he’s been on gravel in a Fiesta R2T. It was a very sensible drive from him too, he could have pushed for the win but elected to take second and that is a great approach to have.

Of course, we are devastated for James [Williams] after coming so close to taking the JWRC prize fund. He has lead every rally that he has contested so far in the new Fiesta R2T so we were all extremely disappointed for him to have that prize slip away like that. We are certain that there is a great future ahead of him.

Its been a tough year, but we have everything in place to support our 2020 plans and the shift to a single-make Junior BRC next season. It really is an exciting time for the team as we continue to expand our workforce to cope with demand”.

The EDSL Sport team have no time to rest however as they prepare for next months Wales Rally GB, Britain’s round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Image credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

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