Inspira Rally Team driver Ruairí Bell stormed to a maiden British Rally Championship career podium on the Grampian Forest Rally in Scotland, a significant milestone in a promising first season at the series’ highest level.
Bell and the squad entered the event on the back of three difficult rallies to open the 2022 BRC campaign, but hit the ground running on the six-stage, 43-mile gravel event with second fastest time in the opening test.
Getting caught in another cars dust in stage two of the hot, dry rally hampered Bell’s charge, but he and co-driver Max Freeman battled back in the Inspira Rally Team Skoda Fabia Rally2 from stage three to climb back to second overall, taking on far more experienced drivers and former champions at the front of the order.
In a bid to close further on the lead in the final test, the 6.8-mile Caledonian Logistics Hurlie Bog stage, the pair swapped the car’s tyres front to rear, but the move didn’t work out as planned, and limited rear traction ultimately meant the Fabia briefly left the road, hit a tree, rolled onto its roof and incredibly back onto it wheels. The cool, calm demeanour of Freeman meant the engine was only stopped for four seconds before the pair were back in first gear and heading back down the stage.
The time lost was only around 15 seconds in the stage, but unfortunately such were the fine margins in the event that Bell dropped out of second overall by just eight seconds in the competitive field.
However, the crew held onto third following the dramatic final encounter to secure a maiden podium – just reward for the huge effort made by everyone on the team so far in 2022.
The fifth round of the British Rally Championship will see a return to closed-roads on asphalt on the Rali Ceredigion in Wales on September 3-4.
Ruairí Bell, Inspira Rally Team Driver:
“It was a wild weekend. We had a good first stage, we lost a lot of confidence in all the dust in stage two, but we clawed back time through the afternoon. I made a bold decision with the tyre strategy for the last stage and we were very sideways in the last stage. Unfortunately, we got caught out in a tight section, went down a dip and hit a tree. We managed to get back on the road only losing about 15 seconds, finished the stage and were only 12 seconds off second place in the stage.
It would have been great to finish second but it was a very exciting run to third and we have a lot to take from this. It’s a great result for the team finally, and really important that when things go our way, we end up on the podium. Max was fundamental in this result, he calmed me straight down after the incident and focused me to get to the end of the stage without losing any more time.
Thank you to everyone for sticking with us through the tough first three events of the championship, we won our pre-season event and now we’re back on track by being on the podium in BRC. There’s still three rounds to go and it’s all to play for.”