British Rally Championship team MH Motorsport secure Cadet Cup title and Junior BRC podium in Northern Ireland
MH Motorsport enjoyed a successful weekend at the penultimate round of the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship (BRC) by not only securing the Cadet Cup title but by also taking a Junior BRC podium spot at the Ulster Rally (18/19 August).
All four of the MH Motorsport run Ford Fiesta’s made the finish and with an exceptionally high attriction rate on the tough Ulster lanes, made up three quarters of the total BRC Junior and Cadet Cup finishers in the event.
Oscar Solberg and Patrik Barth regained the form they showed in the opening round of the season by taking second overall in the Junior’s and putting them firmly back in contention for a category podium at the end of the year. Josh Cornwell took his fifth Cadet Cup win of the year to secure the title with one round remaining.
With five rounds of the hotly contested championship down, the series would head to Northern Ireland for a two-day, 130-mile blast across the closed public roads around the Londonderry rally base. Crews were greeted by torrential downpours mixed with spells of glorious sunshine making the event one of the hardest of the season; judging grip levels on the asphalt proved almost impossible.
The Hampshire based team was headed up by Solberg in the Ford Fiesta 1.0litre EcoBoost R2T and despite taking round one honours in the Scottish Borders, he has endured a tough year in his inaugural BRC season. Solberg headed to the Ulster Rally hoping to find his form once again.
‘Steady away’ was the plan however and Solberg and Barth ended the opening day fifth. But as the weather played its part, Solberg kept his podium hopes alive by staying out of trouble and by the time crews cross the Londonderry podium, he had vaulted into second spot over the closing stages of the event.
“It was such a tough rally, I've never seen anything like it before,” said Solberg.
“It was really important to get to the end of this rally and get some points and more experience. We made our own pace and it worked really well. Second is a good result and we will now see what we can do on the Isle of Man”.
For the second event in a row, BRC Cadet challengers Alex Waterman and Harry Thomas secured a podium result. After their inaugural category win at the last round in Wales, the duo once again proved that it was no fluke with a runner-up spot in Ulster. Another mature drive in horrendous conditions ensured that whilst they can no longer become Cadet champions, second place would be fought out over the final round.
Alex Waterman and Harry Thomas in action. Image credit Jakob Ebrey Photography.
“Ulster has to be the toughest event Harry and I have competed in to date” said Waterman.
“You really have to trust your notes and I feel that Harry and I really worked well this weekend. It was the first time I had driven in the wet on tarmac and so was a very steep learning curve, I feel like I adapted well and eased into Fridays stages building on our pace. We felt very comfortable on Saturday and saw our times start to improve by 30 seconds plus, and to set a fastest Cadet stage time for the first time all year was a really pleasing achievement which shows our pace is coming with every rally we finish.”
Nabila Tejpar would have a new co-driver alongside for the event, although Richard Bliss is no stranger to the team having sat with Josh Cornwell for much of the season. Tejpar’s season has been a solid one, scoring points in every round this year and the aim in Northern Ireland was to remain consistent. It wouldn’t be an easy event however. An off at shakedown would mean the MH Motorsport team would need to work flat out to repair the car before the rally start. Tejpar was then knocked over in the service park on Friday evening which left the Fiesta pilot bruised. But she duly rewarded the team efforts with fourth in the category to maintain her 100% finishing record.
Nabila Tejpar & Richard Bliss in action. Image credit Jakob Ebrey Photography.
“I think it's safe to say the Ulster Rally was one I’d like to forget,” said Tejpar.
“I was in quite a bit of pain during the event so we were certainly not going to take any risks. Add to that the unbelievable conditions and it really was one of the hardest events I've ever had to do. But we got through the other side and I guess it's all experience at the end of the day. I didn’t feel confident enough to push during the rally so I`m looking to the Isle of Man to build the confidence back up again.”
Josh Cornwell became the success story of the weekend, banishing all memories of a lowly finish in Wales last month to win the Cadet Cup in Ulster, sealing the title in the process. Joined by Tom Woodburn for the event, the duo were a force to be reckoned with all weekend long, wrapping up the category with one round to go.
Josh Cornwell & Tom Woodburn. Image credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography
“I cannot begin to thank everyone enough for all their efforts this year,” says Cornwell.
“The team have been unbelievable and have got us out no matter what the situation was. This year has really gone our way and we have only really had one ‘not so good’ round. The Ulster Rally has got to be the hardest rally I have done all year by far. The change in conditions throughout the weekend has been hard to cope with and we really had some hairy moments. But I enjoyed every second of it! “
The final round of the British Rally Championship series takes place on the Isle of Man in September.