Mark Donnelly and Dai Roberts placed their Renault Clio R3 on the podium on this weekend’s Pirelli International Rally, helping Renault UK to move into a clear second place in the 2012 MSA British Manufacturers’ Rally Championship.
Carlisle Clio driver Peter Taylor and co-driver Andrew Roughead also added valuable points to Renault’s haul, bouncing back to fifth place after two difficult stages on Friday evening.
Donnelly’s third place was a great achievement for the young Northern Irish Driver, having crashed heavily a month earlier on round two of the Championship. The crew emerged physically unscathed from the fifth gear excursion, testament to the strength of the 250hp Clio. Therefore, it was a mental battle that they overcame as Friday’s night-time stages gave way to Saturday’s breezy sunshine.
By the half way point, and after a confidence-building second fastest stage time, Donnelly had moved from an early fifth place to his eventual third, delighted to have achieved the goal he set before the event:
“We knew it would take a while to get back into it, but despite some suspension problems later on, it all came good in the end. The highest place we could have hoped for was third, so get on the podium is fantastic.” concluding, “Three winners in three rallies means the championship is still wide open.”
Taylor too had some big pushes and for good reason; having climbed to fifth on stage five the position was constantly under threat from Jukka Korhonen behind. The eventual margin to sixth was a whisker under two seconds, Taylor having pulled out the stops with a third and a handful of fourth quickest stage times.
“I’m really pleased with the result, especially after Friday night when we broke an engine mount.” he said, “I’m not a fan of these really fast gravel stages, but this year we both enjoyed it and we are getting closer to Mark (Donnelly)’s stage times.”
The British Rally Championship’s support series, the NGK Spark Plugs BRC Challenge also brought good news for Renault fans, when Simon Moore & Emma Morrison won the shorter Pirelli Challenge Rally for the second year in their Renault Clio 182. Russ Thompson & Andy Murphy made it a Renault one-two on the event in their similar Clio.