Ahlin is All Right
Swedish star Fredrik Ahlin, and his co-driver MORTEN Erik Abbrahamson, on only their third visit to a UK event, scorched through Kielder Forest to take victory on an incident packed Pirelli Carlisle Rally, finishing almost half a minute ahead of Cumbrian driver Matthew Wilson with Welsh star Elfyn Evans putting in a late charge to move up and grab third place.
The second day of the Carlisle based rally dawned cold, damp and miserable as the crews left the overnight halt and headed up to Kielder where the opening stage immediately shook up the leader board when overnight second placed man, David Bogie, slid off in to one of Kielder’s many ditches. This stage also claimed Mattius Adielson who rolled his Vauxhall Adam. Evans started the day in determined fashion, setting fastest time and clawing back a few seconds on Ahlin. This stage also saw the end of the road for David Bannett’s Corsa and Australian star, Rhys Pinter’s Fiesta stopped with mechanical problems
The next stage did little to change the leaderboard as a number of crews beat the bogey time, evidence of the phenomenal power and handling capabilities of the latest generation of rally cars. It must have been somewhat frustrating for the likes of Evans, denying him the opportunity to close the gap. He had one final push on the last stage, again the quickest car but Ahlin had it in the bag and was able to confirm his first British Championship victory, indeed, on this showing he is going to be quite a force in this years series. Wilson’s drive to second place was a fine performance, given that he hadn’t driven a car competitively for over 18 months while Evans stunning last stage surge saw him overtake Tom Cave and claim the final podium position, The inevitable “Sting in the tale” saw Peter Stephenson’s Ford Focus and Ollie Mellors Proton grind to a halt, both losing out on a potential top ten position.
The battle in the British Junior Rally Championship saw series leader Robert Duggan chalk up another maximum score, well ahead of the pursuing Gus Greensmith and Adam Bustard. Matt Edwards took an unchallenged victory in the BRC class and with Gee Atherton wrapping up BRC4.
This years Pirelli Carlisle Rally certainly hasn’t lacked incident or drama but despite everything the organisers kept the rally on schedule and it was another smooth, well run event, superbly promoted and one which was well worthy of it’s position in the top tier of British Rallying.