NEWS: Super Season Start For Culina Palletforce Racing
5th May 2013

The newly-formed Culina Palletforce Racing team made a solid start on the opening event of its 2013 MSA British Rally Championship campaign when both team drivers completed the Pirelli Richard Burns Foundation Rally today in Carlisle.

John MacCrone led the way with a fantastic fifth overall after setting his, and the team’s, first fastest stage time on the last test to jump two places on the leaderboard. He was followed home by Peter Taylor in a super seventh place after the 77-mile, two-day event through Kielder Forest.

The Pirelli Rally was a tough way to kick off the new season. Not only are the super high-speed stages some of the fastest and most ferocious in the series but, for both team drivers, it was their first competitive outings in the new CA1 Sport-prepared Citroen DS3 rally cars.

The gravel special stages across Kielder are renowned for their ability to catch out unwary drivers and their deep ditches lie in wait for anyone pushing too hard.

Speedy Scot MacCrone, however, was also competing for the first time with new co-driver, and former British rally champion, Phil Pugh. They were quick right from the off and matched times with the top British crews on the opening tests. But a puncture on stage five on Saturday slowed their challenge when they lost over three minutes to the other drivers and dropped back to 14th place.

However, 23-year-old MacCrone powered his way through today’s four gravel stages in Kershope forest on the hunt for a top-ten finish. He set two second fastest times and went quickest overall on the final 9.66 mile dash through Glen Dhu to leapfrog his way up the leaderboard – jumping an incredible seven places and finishing the event in fifth overall.

Peter Taylor, meanwhile, was hoping for a little local luck on his home event. The 21-year-old from Carlisle was partnered by co-driver Andrew Roughead and quickly settled into a solid pace on the opening loop of three stages. The pair put their local knowledge to good effect and ended the first day in a strong sixth position.

Taylor was trialing a new system of pacenotes and used the event to build his confidence in both them and his car. He maintained a firm pace today to secure seventh place and deliver the team’s first double finish of the season.

The result means the new Culina Palletforce Racing team finally gets its season into gear after a delayed championship start. Today’s finish at Carlisle Racecourse gives the team an exciting focus on the next event knowing its crews will be right in the mix to challenge for British Championship glory.

The action now switches from gravel to asphalt as the series moves north of the border to the Jim Clark Rally in Kelso. It’s the biggest closed public road rally in mainland UK and runs from 31 May to 1 June featuring high-speed stages through the country roads around Duns.

John MacCrone, Culina Palletforce Racing driver, said: “It’s been a great start to the season for me and for the team. Yesterday’s puncture was disappointing as it dropped us out of the race for overall victory but today has been absolutely perfect. I feel much more at ease with the new car and the fastest stage time today demonstrated how I’ve grown in confidence and how well things are working with Phil. It was the perfect way to end the rally and it gives me a good boost ahead of the next event.”

Peter Taylor, Culina Palletforce Racing driver, said: “It’s been really beneficial to get the experience of a full rally in the new car and we’ve picked up a lot over the weekend. We’ve identified a few areas for improvement and I will be working hard on those before the next rally to come back stronger. We haven’t made any mistakes and it was important to come here, finish the event and pick up some championship points for us and the team.”

Report: Courtesy of Culina Palletforce Racing

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