Ed Fossey got his season underway in fine style on the Visit Conwy Cambrian last weekend (16th February). The Jerseyman experienced the legendary North Wales forests for the very first time and came away with 24th overall out of 97 starters and second in the R2 class.

Bournemouth University student Ed Fossey got his 2019 rallying season off to a flying start at the weekend. Competing on stages last used on Wales Rally GB – Britain’s round of the World Rally Championship, Fossey set about testing himself against some of the countries best rally drivers on the classic Cambrian Rally.

The Peugeot 208 R2 driver would take part in the shorter National B event while the British Rally Championship runners would tackle a longer National A event which saw an additional three night stages.

The opening seven stages, however would be the same and along with Guernsey co-driver Will Rutherford, the pair set about climbing the order from their seeding of 65th on the road. The mission for the Channel Island crew was to learn the French pocket-rocket on the gravel and get a finish under the belt after an early retirement on the Jersey Rally last time out.

On stage one, the 20-year-old got into his stride straight away and punched in the 25thfastest time – taking a convincing 9.8-second class lead on the first stage. Ed would go on to stretch the advantage to over 19 seconds by the lunchtime service. If Ed had been competing in the BRC, he would be well into the top 10 junior drivers.

“It was a great experience to take the Peugeot onto the gravel for the first time. I haven’t been in the car since the Jersey Rally back in October so it took a few miles to knock the rust off. As we are not fighting for a championship this year we went under the radar and set about building experience and learning how the car handled on the loose surface.”

At the lunchtime halt, Ed took the mature option to get the car to the finish. As 2019 is an experience gathering year and no championship campaigns to fight for, Fossey wasn’t prepared to risk damage to the car on the second pass of the stages. On the second run through, ruts and rocks started to appear – creating a tougher and demanding end to the event.

The final four stages saw the young-gun thread the Peugeot through the gravel stages. At the end of the day-long event, Fossey finished 24th overall and second in the R2 class – a fine result for his first time at the event.

“2017 was my last gravel rally and I was doing it in a slower car back then, so it took a bit of time to adjust. The Peugeot is a quality car and you can tell the manufacturer really refined the 208 as it was easy to get up to speed and have the confidence straight away. The tyres Yokohama provided were perfect as well and along with the car, it allowed me to just focus on the job in hand.

“The conditions gave us everything – dry at the start of the day and wet muddy conditions towards the end of the day. Will and I spoke at the lunchtime service and thought we needed to get to the end and get the experience – there was no point pushing too hard. We led the class for a while but we wanted to complete an event and put plenty of miles under the belt. It was very important to walk away with the car in one piece so we backed off as we didn’t want to be dragged into unnecessary fights. Obviously I would have liked to win but the car needs to go to the next event. It was a strong day for us and a good result at the end.”

Ed was also keeping track of the times in Britain’s premier rallying series and even with his cautious approach in the afternoon, the Jerseyman would have easily slotted into the top-ten of the Junior British Rally Championship runners.

“We were obviously using this as an experience builder but we couldn’t but help look at the times against the BRC guys. If we hadn’t backed off we could have been in the top six BRC runners which is quite encouraging considering the pace and experience of the front-runners.“

Ed and the team will enjoy a small break before a switch to tarmac for the Corbeau Seats Rally near Clacton-on-Sea in April.

Ed Fossey Rally Calendar for 2019

Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally (North Wales) – 16th February

Corbeau Seats Clacton Rally (Essex) – 28th April

Nicky Grist Stages (Mid Wales) – 13th July

Eventsigns Woodpecker Rally (Shropshire) – 31st August

Rally Yorkshire Trackrod Rally (Yorkshire) – 28th September

Roberts Garage Jersey Rally (Jersey) – 11th-12th October