It was an ideal start, despite less than ideal conditions, for 26 year old Kyle White as he negotiated the treacherous forestry stages, to take a Junior British Rally Championship (BRC) category win on the Malcolm Wilson Rally. County Antrim’s Kyle with co-driver Sean Topping from Banbridge took their Peugeot 208 Rally 4 to a 23.8 second win in the category over the shortened forty mile route, as the Cumbrian forests were very much still in the grip of the artic blast.
“It was a very challenging event! “ said Kyle. “The conditions were extremely difficult, with ice and snow in many places and it made it all the more satisfying to come out with the result in the end.” The route was cut short due to the conditions, the crews first competitive test being what was originally planned to be stage four, and it was a less than perfect start for the pair as they limped out of that Greystoke stage with a puncture. ”We are not sure where we got the puncture, but as soon as I felt it we dropped the car into road mode and drove as gently as we could on the tyre to avoid further damage. We had a real push on the early part of the stage, and that meant that we were actually still the fastest Junior by a couple of seconds.”
After a short service halt, where two new tyres were fitted, the crew headed out to the two famous Grizedale stages, and an attack was mounted. “We felt we had a point to prove and went on the attack and pulled a lot of time on these two tests.” They were nearly eighteen seconds faster than their closest category rivals on Grizedale North, even recording a time faster than a Ford Puma WRC Rally 1 car, and by the end of the loop the lead over closest Junior challenger Kyle McBride was extended to over half a minute. However there is nearly always a drama for the Dunmurry based team, and the crew were about to get some shock treatment!
“On the way into service again there was like a hissing noise and the car started to feel really wandery. When we got into service dad and Alan found a leaking rear left shock absorber, but we no spare unit to replace it and there was little we could do. We pressed on into the penultimate stage in Greystoke forest, and almost went off at the first corner. The shock had gave up completely and was a continual counter steering of the car through-out the last two stages. I would say that they were the most difficult stages I have ever driven as even on the straights the car was really hard to keep in line.”
On the two stages the crew kept their cool however, dropping less than ten seconds to their closest challengers and taking a well- deserved opening Junior British Championship win. The next round is in Scotland, on the closed roads for the Jim Clark Rally, which is the first of four closed road tarmac sorties. With a second place in the Junior BRC, a maiden win last year and third after a curtailed season, the team based at their Dunmurry garage are hopeful and also thankful for the support from Gary White Car Sales, Finaghy Cleaning & Support Services, LA Distribution NI Ltd, Baize Craft, Jetvent Limited and Peugeot Sport UK/Ireland to continue the campaign.
“Points wise it’s an ideal start to the Junior BRC and we really enjoyed the Jim Clark Rally last year, so we are looking forward to that, and in the off season we found a better set up for the 208, so excited to get onto the tarmac roads again.”
2023 Motorsport UK British Rally Championship Calendar
Round 1 – Malcolm Wilson Rally – Cumbria – 11 March
Round 2 – Jim Clark Rally – Duns, Scotland – 26/27 May
Round 3 – Ypres Rally – Belgium– 23/24 June
Round 4 – Ulster Rally– Newry – 18/19 August
Round 5 – Rali Bae Ceredigion – Aberystwyth, Wales – 2/3 September
Round 6 – Trackrod Rally- Yorkshire – 22/23 September
Round 7 –Cambrian Rally – Llandudno – 27/28 October
Images from Motorsport UK BRC Media