Wright tested the Kumho Tyres and Grove Hill Garage-supported Focus on the Thursday before the rally and had no problems as he gained valuable mileage in the new car. However, when he drove the car to scrutineering at M-Sport’s premises on Friday the engine cut out. Wright was able to make it to scrutineering after resetting all the cars systems but it was looking doubtful that he’d be able to start the event.
With the help of M-Sport staff Wright was able to diagnose the problem as a faulty chassis ECU. Fortunately a replacement was sourced which returned the car to full health.
The event itself started with two stages in the forests near Keswick followed by two more near Penrith. Wright and co-driver Michael Wilkinson made a good start, including setting second fastest time on stage three, to lie in 6th place at the first service halt.
“After all the drama on Friday I was relieved just to make the start of the first stage,” said Wright. “The car performed perfectly at the test session so it was very frustrating to have a problem on the way to M-Sport. We were lucky to be able to call on the expertise of M-Sport’s staff, who originally built the car, to identify the issue.”
“With our aim being to finish the event we started off cautiously and took no risks. The first few stages were very slippery and we found that the replacement ECU had settings for tarmac events rather than gravel which made handling the car very difficult. I was happy to be in 6th going into service.”
Two stages in Grizedale forest followed and it was here that Wright’s hopes of a good result were ended. The Focus clipped a large stone which damaged the wheel rim and caused a puncture. Wright was forced to stop and change the wheel which cost him five minutes and dropped him right down the leaderboard. A troublefree run through the last two stages saw Wright finish in 22nd place.
“The puncture was disappointing, we had moved up to fourth after the first Grizedale stage and were hoping to push for a top three position. It wasn't to be though. We achieved our target of finishing the event which is the main thing. We’ve got a very steep learning curve with the new car but we made a lot of progress at the weekend which bodes well for the rest of the season. Thanks to Giles Philips Motorsport for preparing the car and thanks to Kumho Tyres and Grove Hill Garage for their support.”
Wright’s next event with the Focus is scheduled to be the Somerset Stages in April but he’ll also be out on the AGBO Stages on 22nd March where he’ll drive a Mk2 Escort co-driven by Steve Pugh.