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The finale of the Asphalt Championship was billed as a winner takes all rally between Damian Cole and Jason Pritchard, but it didn’t prove to be that simple (or correct). The 1st stage was key as in the event of a tie break it could all come back to who went fastest on this stage. Cole, co-driven by Andrew Roughead (Fiesta WRC), was quickest from Pritchard by 2 seconds, who was co-driven by Phil Clarke in his Focus WRC. By the end of the first loop Alan Kirkaldy & Cameron Fair (Fiesta R5) had set two fastest times to be lying joint first with Cole, with Pritchard 10s back. The 2nd loop went the way of Kirkaldy who was upsetting the WRC machinery in his R5 car. After stage 9 Kirkaldy had grown his lead to 11s going fastest once more and it was followed up on loop 4 with another fastest time on SS10 before Cole pegged the lead back to 10s with a fastest time on SS11.

Pritchard was slipping back with persistent throttle issues, much like he had endured on the Mewla and it looked like the title fight was over, but after some clarification it was pointed out that if Kirkaldy won, then 3rd place would be enough for Pritchard to claim back-to-back titles as long as Cole remained in 2nd place. With this news ringing in his ears Cole went hell for leather over the final loop of stages, being the only driver to beat the bogey time on stage 12 and going fastest on the final stage. It proved not be enough though as Kirkaldy took a maiden win by just 3 seconds. Cole had missed out on the title by a single point and 3s to an ecstatic Pritchard.

In 4th place was John Stone & Michael Gilbey (Fiesta WRC) after a good rally and season. Frank Bird made his Otterburn debut, co-driven by Jack Morton and took 5th place in his Focus WRC. Back in 12th overall and first 2WD crew home were Rhidian Daniels & Tomos Whittle (C1 Max), beating a number of local crews who have the experience over the ranges.

 

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