A star-studded entry descended upon the legendary island for the 2016 MSA British Rally Championship curtain call. Topping the bill along with newly crowned champions Elfyn and Craig were Citroen World Rally Championship stars Craig Breen and Scott Martin in a Citroen DS3 R5. In addition, local hero and three-time British Rally Champion Mark Higgins with Darren Garrod sat alongside, driving a DMACK-supported Ford Fiesta R5 .
Elfyn and Craig were once again the class of the field taking the lead on the second stage of the rally, holding their advantage until stage 12 when a drive shaft failure dropped the World Championship stars back into second. Undeterred after a final day tussle with multiple BRC champion Higgins, Elfyn overhauled his DMACK teammate and arrived at the famous TT Grandstand for the Ceremonial Finish with a 5.9 second advantage after over 120 competitive stage miles.
A spectacular super-special stage on Douglas Promenade got things underway. With the Irish Sea as the backdrop, thousands of spectators lined the one-mile stage with crews battling head-to-head with one another on the streets of the Islands capital.
Breen and Martin drew first blood before Elfyn and Craig in their Ford Fiesta R5 stretched their legs on the two other stages on the opening evening to hold a 12.1 second gap over Welsh compatriots Tom Cave and James Morgan (Fiesta R5). Breen and Martin suffered engine woes on the third stage, putting paid to their weekend and denying fans of a heavyweight title bout on the picturesque lanes.
Manxman Mark Higgins picked up the mantle to challenge the newly crowned champions. The local star kept Evans honest and was there to strike if the Red Bull athlete encountered any difficulties. Disaster did strike for Elfyn on stage 12 when his Fiesta R5 went into three-wheel-drive after a driveshaft failed, forcing the champion to limp the Fiesta through the two stages of day two. Higgins stole the march and headed into the final day with 17.5 seconds in hand over his younger rival.
A determined Evans woke up on the final day in an inspired mood and started to chip away at Higgins’ lead. The local drivers advantage dipped to just one tenth of a second going into the penultimate stage. Higgins couldn’t hold off Evans as the Welshman’s momentum saw him inherit the rally lead – stretching out a 5.9 second lead prior to the finish outside the famous TT Grandstand.
Elfyn commented: “It has been a long and tough weekend and it has been challenging throughout. I was still finding out a lot about the car and tyres as we didn’t test beforehand so there was a lot of tweaking to get the car perfect. I wanted to try and go for it and build a comfortable lead and then manage that, but then we hit trouble with drive shaft problems, which cost us nearly a minute. The fight was then on and it was a great battle with Mark [Higgins] to try and claw the time back. To do it on stages where he has so much local knowledge was hard as I haven’t been on these roads since 2010!
“To take victory is the icing on the cake for not only me but the whole team. To give them the teams’ championship was ultimately the reason for coming here and I was maybe selfish as well as I wanted to take the fight to Mark and win the event. The win tops off a great year in the BRC and a great reward to DMACK and the whole team for their hard work in 2016.”