|Burton upon Trent, May 7, 2013 – Last year’s Pirelli UK Star Driver, Jukka Korhonen, dominated the newly-christened Pirelli Richard Burns Foundation Rally over the weekend in his Citroen DS3 R3T to become the first Finn to win a round of the British Rally Championship since Jari-Matti Latvala in 2003.Pirelli’s current Star Driver, Mark Donnelly, wasn’t quite so lucky. The Northern Irishman was one of several drivers to suffer a heavy landing over a fast crest on the morning of the final day, which broke his Citroen’s radiator. At the time, he had been running in a strong fourth place with high hopes of challenging for the podium.
The Carlisle-based event celebrated its 22nd season of Pirelli sponsorship this year with a new title: the Pirelli Richard Burns Foundation Rally. This is in recognition of the charity named after 2001 World Rally Champion Richard Burns, who succumbed to a brain tumour just four years after winning the sport’s ultimate prize.
The British Rally Championship has been supplied exclusively by Pirelli since 2007, with the drivers using the K6 Scorpion gravel tyre and also the harder K4 compound over the 10 stages that ran through the notorious Kielder Forest during the weekend.
Through rapid straights, slippery braking areas, deep ditches and challenging British weather, the Pirelli tyres had their performance tested to the utmost on some of the most technical gravel stages in Europe – yet the drivers still maintained perfect control. This is thanks to the tread pattern and compound design of Pirelli’s rally tyres, which are optimised to offer maximum grip and driveability even on the most marginal surfaces.
Korhonen built up an unassailable lead of a minute over the six stages of the opening day and was then able to control his advantage to the finish throughout the four stages of day two. “The car and the tyres were perfect; we had a good pace and absolutely no problems at all,” he said. “There is a fantastic tradition of Finnish people rallying in Britain but it’s been a long time since a Finn has been winning here and of course my aim is to change that. I’m very grateful to Pirelli: without the experience I had of the stages in Britain through the Pirelli Star Driver scheme last year, it would have been very difficult for me to win this time.”
While he couldn’t quite bring home the result that he wanted this time, Pirelli UK Star Driver Mark Donnelly also enjoyed his experience of the rally. “You can’t fault the car or the tyres: they’ve been excellent,” said the Citroen DS3 R3T driver, who benefits from a season funded by Pirelli this year after being selected for the prize drive by a panel of experts. “On the first day I struggled a little bit to find the right set-up as this car is still very new to me and quite different to what I had before. But as the stages went on we were definitely getting into our stride and hopeful of a good result. Over that crest on the final day we were maybe a little too fast – which is a measure of the confidence we had – and that unfortunately led to our retirement. But we’ve learned a lot and we’ll definitely come back fighting.”
Alastair Fisher and Tom Cave were second and third on the event after a close finish, while former WRC Academy driver John MacCrone also delivered a storming performance to fight back up to fifth place from 13th overnight.
After his sterling performance at the wheel of a Ford Fiesta R2, Norway’s Steve Rokland was presented with the coveted Pirelli yellow jersey after taking the victory in the new-for-2013 BRC RallyTwo category, and with it a nomination towards the end of season Pirelli Star Driver shoot out.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery, who came to see the rally get underway, commented: “We’re very proud of our continued association with this event and the city of Carlisle, where we have an important factory, and also very proud to be supporting the Richard Burns Foundation with a series of fundraising initiatives. It’s been fantastic to see our past and present Pirelli Star Drivers perform so strongly, and this really underlines the commitment that we have to motorsport in every discipline – particularly when it comes to giving talented young drivers the opportunity to make their way up through the ranks of the sport.”
The next round of the Pirelli-backed British Rally Championship is the Jim Clark Rally, which takes place on closed asphalt roads in the Scottish borders from May 31-June 2.
For more information on Pirelli, please visit www.pirelli.co.uk
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