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Reigning British Rally Championship Cadet Cup champion Rupert Flynn upheld EDSL Sport honours at the opening round of the British Rally Championship and BTRDA Rally series last weekend, the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally (8th February).

Making his Junior BRC debut, Flynn co-driver Richard Crozier stayed out of trouble to secure a confidence-boosting fifth spot in the series in the EDSL Sport hire car. Sadly neither team-mate Brian Brady or BTRDA contender Elliot Payne would make it to the Llandudno promenade to cross the ramp on Saturday evening.

The progressive Hampshire based firm would head to the North Wales forests with a three-car squad, each crew fielding a new generation M-Sport MK8 1.0litre EcoBoost Ford Fiesta R2T. Leading the pack would be rapid Irishman Brian Brady who, along with co-driver Eammon Creedon would be looking for a positive start to his Junior BRC campaign after piloting a Honda Civic back at home over the past few years.

Flynn would make the step up to the Junior BRC after securing the Cadet Cup with EDSL Sport last season at the Ulster Rally and was another aiming to pin down a decent points haul to start the six-round season off in style. Both Brady and Flynn would be gunning for a €60,000 prize fund towards a 2021 campaign in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship thanks to M-Sport and Pirelli.

Payne would be contesting the BTRDA category of the event, making his senior rally debut after competing in the F1000 Junior Rally Championship in the past, electing to use a Fiesta R2 in the all-gravel championship in 2020.

Utilising stages used in Britain’s round of the World Rally Championship, Wales Rally GB, the event offered just over 40 miles of competitive action spread over seven stages. Brady would open his account with an impressive third fastest time over the first test, quickly followed by fourth quickest over the next. Sadly the Penmachno stage would see the car on its roof and despite being able to continue, they were not allowed to resume the rally.

That same stage also claimed Payne who, after setting two fastest BTRDA R2 times, ended his and co-driver Michael Gilbey’s day with an off-stage excursion. Although they continued, they were over the allowed time and would not appear in the results.

It was then left to Flynn to uphold EDSL Sport honours and he duly obliged, with a trouble free run over the course of the day to record a positive start to his Junior BRC campaign.

“I wasn’t feeling too confident after the [pre-event] test but it certainly made a huge difference in my ability in the new car and helped me get this result today,” he said.

“The car seems great to drive and it felt quite easy to take it to a good pace today and this is a great start to our campaign”.

Team Principle Alex Waterman was eager to take the positives away from the weekend.

“Although it was a short rally by usual BRC standards it was still one of the toughest and of course it was a shame Brian [Brady] or Elliot [Payne] didn’t make it over the finish ramp this weekend,” he said.

“But we are very pleased for Rupert who secured a mature drive today, it wasn’t easy out there. Brian gave us an insight into what is to come from him this season and it was great to have him in the team here in Wales. Elliot is still learning and the initial signs are good for the youngster that’s for sure. On paper, it wasn’t a great weekend for the team but we have plenty of positives to focus on heading into the next round”.

The Junior BRC now heads to Ireland for the West Cork Rally in March, with the BTRDA enjoying its next encounter in Cumbria for the Malcolm Wilson Rally.

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Image credits – Jakob Ebrey Photography

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