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Motorsport UK British Championship leader Osian Pryce made the perfect start in his quest to win a maiden title by taking an early lead over main rival Keith Cronin in the Trackrod Rally Yorkshire.

Welshman Pryce, driving a Volkswagon Polo GTR5, finished the opening night stage of round six on the North York Moors 5.2 seconds ahead of four times previous champion Keith Cronin, from Ireland in a similar vehicle.

The 11.23-mile all-gravel test in Dalby forest, all undertaken in total darkness save for searching spotlights, is for many the highlight of the challenging six stage event which also incorporates the Fuchs Lubricants British Historic Championship and this year is the penultimate round of both series’. Pryce has won three previous rounds compared to Cronin’s two and a further victory in the Filey-based Trackrod would clinch the Machynlleth driver’s maiden British crown.

The Historic Cup, featuring vehicles of yesteryears, is led by 2021 British Champion Matt Edwards, preferring this year to campaign a gleaming Fiat 131 Abarth, once a World Championship winning car. Edwards, also from Wales, was 17.7 seconds quicker than local rallying legend Steve Bannister, from Butterwick, who drives his trademark early eighties Ford Escort Mk2.

Veteran Bannister, the first man to win the Trackrod Rally three times and victor in many other events over the same stages in an incredible career spanning six decades, went to bed Friday evening almost five seconds ahead of current Historic Championship leader Henri Graham’s Escort.

The competitors, supplemented by another huge batch of cars contesting the MRF Tyres BTRDA (British Trials and Rally Drivers Association) championship – making almost 180 in all, recommence at 8.45am from NY500 – a dedicated motorsports cafe on the A169 Malton-Pickering road – with stages in Cropton, Gale Rigg, Staindale, Langdale and Dalby again – the same long test but this time in daylight -before a finish on Filey seafront around 3.20pm.

For more details of the Trackrod Rally Yorkshire, please visit:
Twitter: @rallyyorkshire

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