MOTORSPORT: Rugby rally driver secures second in class after challenging season

Ashleigh Morris is originally from Scotland, but moved to Rugby six years ago  PICTURES SMJ PHOTOGRAPHY
Ashleigh Morris is originally from Scotland, but moved to Rugby six years ago PICTURES SMJ PHOTOGRAPHY

Ashleigh Morris pleased with runners-up place in prestigious championship

Rugby’s rally driver Ashleigh Morris has secured second in class in the prestigious Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship following a challenging 2018/19 season.

On two wheels at the final round at Cadwell Park

On two wheels at the final round at Cadwell Park

Ashleigh and co-driver Jamie Mactavish finished runners-up in Class B in their Ford Fiesta R200, competing in rallies across England, Wales and Scotland.

Ashleigh said: “We’ve had a few disappointing rallies this season so it’s great that we’ve been able to finish second in class”.

The team had a challenging start to the season at the first round at Oulton Park. After a strong first stage they were disappointed after the car wouldn’t go into gear and they were forced to retire due to clutch issues after just one stage.

They had a steady run at round two at Cadwell Park before having a big accident at Knockhill in Scotland just before the Christmas break, when they clipped a tyre which flipped the car and resulted in it rolling three times, ending their rally and significantly damaging the car.

Ashleigh and co-driver Jamie Mactavish finished second in class B at Anglesey in March

Ashleigh and co-driver Jamie Mactavish finished second in class B at Anglesey in March

TnS Rally worked hard over the mid-season break and luckily the team were able to make round four at Brands Hatch where they finished a solid sixth out of 18 starters in their class.

The challenges continued at Snetterton when the car suffered from a broken gearbox mount but Ashleigh and Jamie still managed to pick up crucial championship points as the team got the part welded so they could finish the event.

A good run followed for round six at Donington, where they finished fifth in class, before achieving second in class at Anglesey - always a favourite - leaving them sitting second in class in the championship standings heading into the final round, eight points behind leader Paul Sheard.

Unfortunately the team didn’t get the end to the season they were hoping for at the second visit to Cadwell Park for the final round of the championship.

On stage six they ran a little wide and clipped some tyres and a gate which launched the car onto two wheels, damaging the steering in the process so Ashleigh wasn’t able to steer the car and they went through the fence. Unfortunately that was the end of their event and championship hopes.

Ashleigh, who is originally from Dollar, Scotland, near Knockhill Racing Circuit and has lived in Rugby for the last six years, added: “I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me this year; Jamie for doing a brilliant job on the notes; TnS Rally for looking after the car; and my family and friends for all their support.

“A massive thank you as well to our sponsors Cirrus Research and Real Systems Controls - we couldn’t have done it without them and are so grateful for their support.”

She continued: “Our pace has definitely improved this year but unfortunately a couple of mistakes and some mechanical issues meant we were unable to win our class. We’re looking forward to the awards dinner in June and we’ll be competing in several events over the summer in preparation for next season.”

# Ashleigh started rallying in the co-drivers’ seat then competed as a driver for the first time in 2016.

She finished 2nd in Class A in the MSN Rally Championship in 2016/17, in a Fiat Punto hired from RallyMe, then moved up to the 1600cc Ford Fiesta R200, finishing 2nd in Class B in 2017/18 as well as this season 2018/19.

The Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship consists of eight rounds at some of the UK’s premier race circuits from November to April.

Each event consists of approximately 50 stage miles over a variety of challenges from crests and jumps to water splashes.

The team are currently sponsored by Cirrus Research and Real System Controls Limited and are seeking additional partners for next season.

Ashleigh’s Ford Fiesta R200 is based on the M-Sport Fiesta R2 and features a 5-speed sequential gear box, modified induction system, hydraulic handbrake and Reiger tarmac suspension.

PICTURES COURTESY OF SMJ PHOTOGRAPHY