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Fraser Anderson is hoping that a new engine in his Baxter and Gillespie-backed Ford Fiesta R2T will power him to British Rally Championship Academy Trophy success on this weekend’s Trackrod Rally Yorkshire (24-25 September).

The 18-year old Helensburgh-based ME Rallysport team driver enjoyed a great start to the season as he finished second in class on the opening Neil Howard Stages at Oulton Park and then won the BRC Academy on the Nicky Grist stages to take the lead in the category.

He then made a brilliant start to the Grampian Rally, setting a time of 6mins 28secs through the opening six-mile Durris forest stage – a full 26 seconds faster than BRC Academy rival Johnnie Mulholland. Fraser’s opening stage time was so incredible that he was 32nd equal fastest after SS1, tied with Bruce McCombie in a Ford Focus WRC!

That flying start was halted when Fraser’s Fiesta R2T suffered a hydraulics system issue, forcing him out of the Aberdeenshire event and dropping him to second in the BRC Academy, 25 points behind Mulholland. But that non-finish will simply become one of Fraser’s mandatory dropped scores come the end of the seven-round series.

Having only contested his first multi-venue forest rally last year, it’s not surprising that this will be Fraser’s first foray into the North Yorkshire forests – although he is well away of its place in rallying folk law, as the legends of past World Rally Championships have all competed there.

The Trackrod has a rich history in the British Rally Championship too, but as this is the first time since 2013 that the event has hosted a round of Britain’s premier rally championship it represents a level playing field for the UK’s youngest up-and-coming drivers like Fraser and co-driver Jack Bowen.

And there will be the added challenge of running in darkness, as the opening stage of the Trackrod Rally Yorkshire is run at night.

“I was very pleased with our time on the opening stage of the Grampian Rally, especially as the engine was down on power,” says Fraser.

“Needless to say I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do with a new engine in the car. We hope to be able to give the car a small test before the event, just to make sure everything is working okay, and then we’ll be good to go.

“Having only visited Yorkshire once in my life, I have no prior knowledge of the Trackrod Rally and have therefore been studying onboard videos as part of my preparation. The stages are very fast and so wide in places that they look like a motorway. That’s going to make the recce and making pace notes very interesting, as taking the fastest line and maintaining top speed will be essential.

“Jack [Bowen] and I have been working extremely hard on developing our pace note system. Every rally offers new challenges and we’re constantly developing. I’ve gone from terrible pace notes when I first started, so bad that I was actually ignoring them and driving on sight, to pace notes that I have full faith in. A new rally like the Trackrod will allow us to evolve the system even further. In addition to driving the car as fast as I can, developing our own pace note system is something that I really enjoy.”

The famous Dalby and Cropton forests host Round 4 of the 2021 British Rally Championship Academy Trophy, which starts from the seaside town of Filey on Friday 24 September – with the action getting immediately underway with just over 11 stage miles that evening before the overnight halt. Saturday 25 September sees a further 44.89 stage miles takes place in the daylight in the North Yorkshire forests, with no stretch of high-speed gravel track used more than once. Filey Brigg Country Park is the location for the service park, while the rally finish is back in Filey from 15.00 onwards.

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