british rally championship

Castrol MEM Rally Team Set For BRC Forestry

Good gravel tests set Castrol MEM Rally Team up for first British Rally Championship forestry event of 2024

After a double podium first and third finish on the opening round of the Probite British Rally Championship, the Castrol MEM Rally Team is set for the first gravel round of the series – with Meirion Evans/Jonathan Jackson ready to give the Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 its UK forest rally debut and series leaders Chris Ingram/Alex Kihurani aiming for two wins out of two in their Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.

Both drivers have been testing in Wales ahead of this weekend’s Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages.

Meirion has contested only two forestry events in a four-wheel drive car – the 2019 Cambrian and 2023 Wyedean rallies – and wisely doubled up with two days of testing. Day one was spent at the Phil Price Rally School near Knighton on Sunday and day two was at the Sweet Lamb complex near Llangurig on Tuesday. Over the two days the new Yaris Rally2 never missed a beat, giving the Carmarthenshire driver some valuable trouble-free gravel test miles – and a very busy start to rally week.

Chris has contested more gravel events in recent years as part of his FIA European Rally Championship programme, but his last forestry rally in the UK in a four-wheel drive car was on the 2018 Wales Rally GB. The Manchester driver was also at Sweet Lamb on Tuesday getting reacquainted to Welsh gravel and used the opportunity to give young Motorsport UK Academy co-driver Daniel James some top four-wheel drive testing experience. He also gave Nicky Grist, winner of 21 FIA World Rally Championship events including two RAC Rally victories with Juha Kankkunen (1993) and Colin McRae (1997) and supplier of the team’s P1 race suits, a high-speed passenger ride too.

Meirion Evans said: “I was quite happy with the testing that we did on gravel this week. We did a few minor set up changes to the car, just to assess a few what ifs, but the tests were more for my benefit and to get me back into a car on gravel. All bar two of my previous gravel rallies have been in a front-wheel drive car, where you have to be slow into corners and quick out – but with the Yaris you can be far more aggressive, let the car slide and keep the power down. I’ve done a few gravel rallies in mid-Wales, but not since 2016 in a Fiesta R2. I’ve got a pretty good memory, and looking at this year’s route on DVD I can still remember a few of the sections quite well. For me, this weekend is going to be a little bit like the opening North West Stages, insofar as it’s a step into the unknown. And for that reason we’re going to apply the same tactics and not get sucked into a fight, do our own thing and try to have a clean run without mistakes. That paid dividends on the first round, and hopefully it will do the same again this weekend.”

Chris Ingram said: “It’s been a while since I’ve rallied in the Welsh forests in a four-wheel drive car, so I’m looking forward to this weekend’s Rallynuts. The test at Sweet Lamb went well. We made some positive set up changes and the Polo now feels awesome on gravel. Alex [Kihurani] couldn’t attend the test, so it was great to have up-and-coming co-driver Daniel James step in, who was excellent calling the pace notes – and it was an honour to have Nicky Grist come along for a ride as well. I feel that both Meirion and myself are driving well and hopefully we’ll be able to match the good results that we achieved on the opening round, although there are a lot of good drivers who know the stages an awful lot better than we do this weekend! I’m certainly feeling on top of my game, ready and confident – and a lot of that is down to the Castrol MEM Rally Team who have done a great job to get everything ready and the wonderful support I have from Castrol, Suisscourtage and Michelin.”

The Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages begins this evening (Friday 12 April) with an autograph session and ceremonial start at the Metropole Hotel in Llandrindod Wells. The action takes place over seven stages / 62 stage miles tomorrow (Saturday 13 April) with tests in Sarnau, Tarennig, Myherin and Sweet Lamb in the morning and Sarnau 2, Myherin Main (which at 15.82 miles is the longest of the event) and Hafren Main in the afternoon, following a midday service at the Royal Welsh Showground in Llanelwedd. The first car will arrive at the finish in Llandrindod Wells at 17:35.

External Credits:

Castrol MEM Rally Team/Images -British Rally Media


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