As Daniel McKenna and Arthur Kierans crossed the final stage finish at Rally Isle of Man powered by Microgaming, they secured the 2014 MSA British Rally Championship title ahead of rivals Osian Pryce and Dale Furniss.
Calvin Beattie and Martin Brady was the only crew from the BRC entries to complete every single stage of the Rally Isle of Man, recognised by taking top step of the BRC overall event podium.
The epic 24 stage event was split into two rounds for BRC points purposes only and both championship front-running crews had accidents, but McKenna had the upper hand ahead of the 166 mile double-header event, Pryce needing two wins to steal the crown.
Pryce, winner of round five, threw away any chance of victory when he clipped a curb on stage fifteen, bending the rear beam on the car which led to reliance on Super Rally rules just to stay in the event.
From that point it was always a long shot, with McKenna and Kierans merely needing to stay out front to secure the title in their Pirelli Star Driver prize-drive season. McKenna joins Irishmen Billy Coleman (1974 champion) and Keith Cronin (2009,10,12 champion) on the prestigious solid silver trophy. Kierans continues a fine Irish co-driving tradition following Dan O’Sullivan (1974), Brian Murphy (2004), Rory Kennedy (2006,08) and Greg Shinnors (2009) to the title.
McKenna was still taking it in at the finish:
“It’s unbelievable and still hasn’t sunk in yet. It has been four years since we first competed in the BRC and we left no stone unturned in our preparations for this event. It is especially significant that it is 40 years since the first Irishman won the BRC and we won his (Billy Coleman) award on our way to this title.
“After we crashed I thought it was all over and it is thanks to the lads at DGM that we managed to get back in the hunt for the title. I’ve got to offer a massive thanks to Pirelli for this opportunity and hopefully it repays their faith in me.”
Citroën UK retain their MSA British Rally Championship for Constructors title from 2013 and the top two places in the 2014 Citroën Racing Trophy mirror those of the overall BRC.
Pryce was understandably upset at the Isle of Man TT Grandstand finish, accepting responsibility for the error that effectively cost him a chance at the crown. He was magnanimous in defeat though, acknowledging the season-long battle with McKenna as a great one. Pryce also takes a free entry on his home WRC event, benefitting from Wales Rally GB’s generous Road to Wales incentive.
Dean Raftery and Aileen Kelly crashed on round five, but took third placed points on the final round, the result enabling them to grab third overall in the MSA British Rally Championship. Their great pace nets them several titles, the BRC RallyTwo, Class BRC2, FordFiesta SportTrophy and RAVENOL Oils Newcomers Award as well as a free entry on November’s Wales Rally GB.
17 year-old Gus Greensmith started his first BRC season with a view to gaining experience having moved from World Karting, so his MSA British Junior Rally Championship title came as a very welcome surprise to the amiable youngster. He and Melanie Holmes also take the BRC3 Class in the little Fiesta, but the Manx event wasn’t all plain sailing, hitting a bale and breaking the windscreen en-route to the titles. They join the Road to Wales winners and plan to step up to a more powerful car for the experience.
NGK Spark Plugs BRC Challenge Trophy victor Ross Hunter had a great battle on Thursday evening. With his co-driver Josh Davison, there were never more than a handful of seconds separating them from Richard Sykes and co-driver champion Emma Morrison, Hunter having used two different co-drivers this year. But Sykes, a former champion, had a 100mph accident on the penultimate stage of round five, lucky to only end up in a ditch the right way up.
From that point, Hunter had the advantage in the title race and when Sykes broke a driveshaft early on in round six, the Scot merely had to keep his head for the title. A big spin on Saturday morning was a wake-up call, but by the finish the venerable Peugeot 205 arrived in Douglas battered but on top of the podium.
The win rounds off what was a difficult year for Hunter who saw Sykes have all the good luck until the Manx event. Hunter also takes a Road to Wales free entry in the national section of this WRC counter in November.
Unlucky not to finish and grab third in the series were Graeme Sherry and Cameron Fair, thankful to the local Renault dealer who made it possible for them to re-start round six, only to stop two stages from home.
Rally Isle of Man powered by Microgaming was a fitting and epic end to a difficult season in the MSA British Rally Championship, crews having paid tribute to Timmy Cathcart with a minute’s silence before the rally.