Prestone MSA British Rally Championship team MH Motorsport firmed up their position at the top of the standings last weekend, taking Cadet win number four at the Ypres Rally in Belgium.
Facing undoubtedly the toughest challenge of their careers so far, the three-strong MH Motorsport Cadet category runners each completed to the notorious event, ensuring a 100% finishing record for the Hampshire-based squad. The 1.6 litre Fiesta R2 a weapon of choice for each crew.
Round four of the British Championship saw crews head across the English Channel to contest the notorious closed-road Ypres Rally. The event marked a shift to asphalt for the series and the two-day 260km event would provide a fearsome way to break into a sealed surface event for the first time. MH Motorsport’s Josh Cornwell and Richard Bliss had won each of the three gravel rounds so far this season and were looking to make it win number four in Belgium.
Despite being a newcomer to the sport, Alex Waterman returned an impressive drive to score a Cadet category podium on his first ever overseas event. In only his first full year of rallying, he beat many more experienced crews on the event and stayed out of trouble to bag his best result of the season. With regular co-driver Harry Thomas unavailable due to work commitments, Waterman was joined by Michael Gilbey for the event and was understandably overjoyed to take his first rostrum of the year.
“I was delighted to come away with 63rd overall from 120 starters and to be 3rd in the Cadet class on my first international event was really promising,” said Waterman.
“The whole rally was something I've never experienced before. From the high speeds to the big cuts and the sheer number of fans that show up to watch, it was a great experience to be part of. Driving the roads is intense and it takes a lot of confidence and massive commitment, you really have to trust your notes. It’s been the most fun I have had driving the Fiesta in my career so far and has given me the confidence boost I needed going into Nicky Grist Stages next month”.
Nabila Tejpar would also tackle an overseas event for the first time and, like Waterman would have a new co-driver in the shape of Brian Hoy in the seat for Belgium. From the outset this season, Tejpar has sighted an improvement on pace as her goal. She duly delivered and in the process, has catapulted herself into third spot in the BRC Cadet category as the series enters the second half of the season. Maintaining her 100% finishing record in 2017, Tejpar is delighted with her result.
Nabila Tejpar & Brian Hoy in action. Image credit Jakob Ebrey Photography.
“I can't tell you how happy I am to get to the end of this event,” said Tejpar.
“It’s been the craziest rally ever and I wasn’t really convinced we were going to make it at one point. We lost power steering on Friday which meant I had to drive all day without it, followed by brake issues on Saturday and Ypres is not a place to drive without brakes! Add to that a trip into one of Belgium's ditches and it's remarkable that we got to the end. It makes the achievement even more special however and to be in third place of the Cadets is fantastic”.
Carrying on where they left off in Scotland, championship leaders Josh Cornwell and Richard Bliss took their fourth win of the season and are within arms reach of taking the title at the next round in Wales. Another to have limited asphalt experience, Cornwell dominated proceedings to win by almost seven minutes from his nearest rival. Not only that, but Cornwell’s time was good enough for fourth overall in the Junior category. A sure sign of his progression during the event.
“I've loved every second of this rally,” remarked Cornwell at the finish.
Josh Cornwell & Richard Bliss. Image credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography
“We had a small issue at shakedown which the team sorted and aside from a few mistakes during the event, the plan came together for us. We just didn’t want to do anything stupid and it was nice to be able to back off a little towards the end and just get it home. It was an absolutely brilliant event and delighted to have taken Cadet win number four”.
The next round of the championship will see a unique move to both gravel and asphalt surfaces for the Nicky Grist Stages in Builth Wells, Wales next month.