Reigning British Rally Champion Matt Edwards took a step closer to the 2019 title after he and co-driver Patrick Walsh won the BRC section and clinched a creditable second overall on the Today’s Ulster Rally (17 August).
The M-Sport pairing didn’t put a foot wrong all weekend in their Yuasa backed Ford Fiesta R5, as they sealed their third win this season – putting them at the top of the standings by 25 points. WRC stars Craig Breen and Paul Nagle were the only crew quicker than the Welsh pairing all weekend, as the Hyundai i20 R5 crew won the Ulster Rally outright, and with it the Irish Tarmac crown.
Welshman Matt Edwards won the 2018 Ulster Rally and were determined to make it back-to-back victories in Northern Ireland. Edwards came into the event tied on 68 points with season-long sparring partner and fellow countryman Tom Cave. With the pair equally matched, nine demanding Tarmac stages around Newry was to play host to the monumental title fight.
Edwards drew first blood on the opening stage, but it was to be a nip and tuck affair throughout the event. Edwards pushed a 9.8 second gap heading to the first service before Cave came fighting back in his Michelin-shod Hyundai i20 R5, chopping the advantage to 6.6 seconds. Edwards turned up the wick and extended the gap further and further away from Cave. Cave – in an attempt to claw back time had several excursions dropping out of the fight with Edwards. Unfortunately for Cave on the penultimate stage, the Welshman had to retire after an impact with a wall. Both he and co-driver Dale Bowen were okay, but had to sit out the final stage.
With no immediate challenge, Edwards cruised to a near eight-minute victory with he and Patrick Walsh spraying the champagne back in Newry. The title fight may have swung in Edwards’ favour but with both drivers yet to play their joker and with 30 points up for grabs, the championship will be decided on the season finale in Scotland.
“What another great weekend, back-to-back wins and what was really encouraging was the pace to Craig [Breen]. I know he has jumped into a new car this weekend but we were pleased with our overall pace but most importantly we take a lead to the Galloway Hills and that’s our focus now. It’s taken a bit of pressure off as this event was so tricky and had the potential for some big mistakes and the conditions changed so much with every pass so it was hard to keep that performance up over the course of the day. It’s unfortunate that it came to a mistake and gutted for Tom, but that’s the name of game. We look forward to another fight in Scotland next month.”
The final round the British Rally Championship will be held in Scotland as the Galloway Hills Rally will welcome Britain’s premier rallying series on 14 September, where Matt Edwards and Tom Cave will go head-to-head for the BRC title in a final round showdown.
Watch from inside the cockpit of Matt Edwards and Patrick Walsh’s Ford Fiesta R5 battle the gruelling Irish roads below: