Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy member David Kelly will resume his Junior British Rally Championship campaign this weekend as the series makes the switch to gravel for the Nicky Grist Stages in Wales (10th July).
Kelly, 25 from Donegal enjoyed a strong showing at the opening round of the series at Oulton Park in May, setting a string of fastest times in his Glebe Builders backed M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally4 and will aim to continue his impressive run of form across the world-famous Mid-Wales stages.
In the fight for the top spot at the tricky and unique race-circuit based season opener, Kelly and co-driver Dean O’ Sullivan were just a handful of seconds behind the leader before an unlucky stage maximum saw the pairing plummet down the leader board and out of contention. But Kelly was eager to take the positives from his Junior BRC performance on the asphalt:
“Of course, we were disappointed with the result from Oulton Park but the encouraging thing to see was that our times were there straight out of the box,” says Kelly. “We simply took a wrong split and that hands you a stage maximum so our day was pretty much over in terms of a result, but we kept going for the experience and it was certainly worthwhile as we managed to win a few stages throughout the afternoon”.
Fresh from valuable seat time on gravel at last weekend’s M-Sport Stages in Greystoke (3/4 July), Kelly will now head to Builth Wells for the second round of the hotly contested Junior BRC and is embracing the challenge ahead.
“We had a really good run in Greystoke and set fastest times on the first two stages to lead the class before an electrical issue caused us to park up” he continues. “But again, to see our pace on gravel is very encouraging for this coming weekend and it has helped us get settled into the car after such a long period away from the forests”.
The 2019 Billy Coleman Award finalist has an impressive track record of events under his belt and has sampled the Welsh stages as part of a limited BTRDA campaign in a Fiesta ST in 2019. With tests that have hosted the World Rally Championship on offer during the action-packed day, Kelly has set a realistic goal for the weekend.
“The stages in mid-Wales are superb and I really enjoyed them when I did them in the Fiesta ST. But the Fiesta Rally4 is a fantastic machine on gravel and the competition in the Junior BRC this season is the best it has been for years, so I need to create a sensible goal for the weekend. It’s very much a sprint style event with just eight short stages so I`ll be looking to get up to speed during the course of the day”.
Kelly is conscious that the season has only just begun and after his opening round non-score, points during the remainder of the season will be a valuable asset to his Junior BRC chances.
“I’d like to think we will be close to the front in Wales, but my target is to have a push on the Grampian” [round four of the BRC] he says. That should be a much better leveler as most of the contenders haven’t done that event before so should be a chance to see how we get on when we go a little harder, but for now a solid result will be key to the weekend and my championship”.