Jersey-born rally driver Ed Fossey returned to rallying action last weekend (Sunday 6 December) to contest the opening round of the Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship in his Yokohama Peugeot 208 R2.
A truncated season due to the COVID-19 pandemic has seen the Channel Islander sit on the side lines – waiting patiently for the resumption of rallying in the UK. The Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship, which traditionally runs during the winter months finally got underway last Sunday, with Ed stepping back into a rally car for the first time since his Trophy Rally win on the Jersey Rally in 2019.
The packed entry list had some of the best national drivers in the country taking part, including crews from the British Rally Championship. Lining-up 71st on the road out of 103 cars, Fossey and stand in co-driver Zak Hughes wanted to take it easy, build the speed and ‘knock the rust off’ before mounting a charge.
However, Fossey excelled in the tricky mixed conditions around the famous Donington Park circuit, as he leapt up the leaderboard on the opening test to sit 42nd overall. The venue, which suited the more powerful four-wheel-drive cars would see the Bournemouth resident struggle to make further gains on the overall leaderboard, but by the halfway point, he had moved into second in class and first R2 car on the event.
As daylight faded in the afternoon, Fossey sensed more time could be had on the cars in front of him – putting his Jersey Rally night stage experience to good use. The 22-year-old threaded his nimble Peugeot 208 around the stages to break into the top 40 – eventually finishing a strong 38th overall as well as the first R2 car home and second in the 1600cc class.
After the event, Ed Fossey reflected on his first rally in over a year:
“It was amazing, it was great to be in a rally environment again and see familiar people and faces. It was good to see the car again, drive it in anger and have a good weekend with my friend Zak [Hughes] in the co-drivers seat. It was a good event to get back in and settled. Donington is a nice circuit and has more room than a traditional rally, so was nice and safe - so if you made a mistake you had plenty of room. The event was quite exciting, greasy and slippery provided a real challenge. For me, it was great test event to get back into a routine. The car was sliding around, with understeer and oversteer, breaking away in high-speed corners, so mentally it got me back into the swing of things quite quickly!
“Considering it has been over 14 months, I was surprised with the pace. As soon as I sat in the car, it didn’t feel like I had been away. I was happy with our pace and we weren’t pushing it 100% as we didn’t want to make any mistakes and we were on a comfortable run. It was a good day all round as we had lots of time to tweak the set-up throughout the day which means the car is prepared for the next one. Everything went perfectly to plan and it was a good event with plenty of enjoyment.
“We put our entry in for the next round, 14 minutes after entries opened and we are on the reserve list which shows just how popular the championship is. Hopefully we get a run at Brands Hatch next time out.”
The next round of the championship is set to be the MGJ Engineering Brands Hatch Winter Stages on 16 January 2021.