Church Stretton rally star helps team-mate secure win

Phil Clarke and Jason Pritchard in action.Picture by Manx Motorsport Gifts and Photography.

Phil Clarke and Jason Pritchard in action.Picture by Manx Motorsport Gifts and Photography.

First published in Sport

CHURCH Stretton rally star Phil Clarke helped his team-mate take the biggest win of his career at the Manx National Rally .

Clarke, from Ludlow Castle Motor Club, paired up with Jason Pritchard to take home the win by 42 seconds following a dramatic event on the Isle of Man.

Clarke and Pritchard - a Builth Wells driver from Brecon Motor Club - were lying in third place after five stages - 54 seconds off second.

The duo had not used their Ford Focus World Rally car since last year's event and had to pull over during stage six following an electrical fault.

However, a chance attempt to restart the car was successful and the crew drove back to the rally stage to discover that the stage had been cancelled - therefore putting them back into contention for the win.

The second leg began with overcast skies, which made tyre choice critical.

But, despite the low cloud on the mountain road, Pritchard and co-driver Clarke secured the fastest time on the Druidale stage to move within 200 hundredth's of a second off second place.

The pair soon ended up in second, but a puncture saw their car spin within sight off the finish, putting their position in jeopardy.

A service at the TT grandstand preceded the final three stages of the rally, with the first of those seeing the leaders crash out of the event, effectively putting Pritchard and Clarke into first overall.

They were second quickest on the penultimate stage and fastest on the last one to ensure that they took the win.

Pritchard, who was second at last year's event, secured maximum points in the REIS Asphalt Rally Championship.

The next event for the pair will be the Severn Valley Stages on May 31, starting from the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells.

They will be competing in Pritchard's MKII Ford Escort.

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