8 MAY 2018 14:20
Spencer Sport will enter a three-car Mitsubishi Mirage R5 team on the Bet On Aces Manx National Rally (May 11-12), driven by John Indri, Philip Hopkins and Jamie Jukes.
The Penrhiwllan-based team, who currently lead the MSA British Rallycross Championship with its Mitsubishi Mirage RX Supercar, will be aiming for a good performance on round two of the Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally Championship to showcase the powerful Mirage R5’s speed, superb handling and impressive overall performance on Tarmac.
The challenging Isle of Man stages are a particular favourite of the West Wales squad, with many great results and happy memories of competing on the island – memories which date back to the late 1980s, when the now Spencer Sport team manager Charlie Jukes first visited the island to work as a rally mechanic for Phil Collins. He has returned many times since, always staying in the Welbeck Hotel in Douglas.
Indri will return to his favourite, and most successful, yellow livery as he makes his Mirage R5 debut on the Manx National. The Colchester driver has contested seven rallies on the Isle of Man, with eighth overall in 2013 in a Darrian T90 GTR his best result. He has tested the car once, in “monsoon conditions” at a very wet Welsh Motorsports Centre at Pembrey, and will test the car again prior to the event. Indri will be co-driven on the Isle of Man by Mathew Smalley and will have additional support from Adrian Flux Insurance and Steve Harkness Tyres.
This will be Hopkins’ fourth appearance on the Isle of Man, the highlights of which are finishing 18th overall on his closed-road rally debut in 2016 in a Mitsubishi Evo VI and 9th overall in 2017 on his first event in a Mirage R5. The Bristol-based driver will be co-driven by Aled Edwards; the pair contested the Tour of Epynt together and whilst it was Hopkins’ only second time on Epynt, they were running eighth overall before a slow first gear excursion in heavy rain on the final stage robbed them of a great result.
Few drivers enjoy rallying on the Isle of Man more then Jukes, and he’ll contest the event in a new Mirage R5. Co-driven by James Morgan, the Llandysul pilot was running comfortably inside the top 10 last time out on the Tour of Epynt, and will be out to showcase the car’s capabilities once again.
John Indri said: “I haven’t done many rallies over the last eighteen months, so I’m looking forward to going back to the Isle of Man. I’ve done the Manx National many times and it’s been a bit of a disaster every time, particularly in my blue Subaru Impreza S11 WRC and white Fiesta R5 – which, having enjoyed more success in a yellow Metro 6R4 and Darrian T90, is why the Mirage R5 will be in full yellow livery! The handling of the Mitsubishi Mirage R5 is fantastic, so I think it will work very well over the jumps and bumps, and the five-speed gearbox is one of the best I’ve ever come across. We’re very competitive and want to win, but we’re also going to the Manx to have some fun and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Philip Hopkins said: “This will be my fourth rally on the Isle of Man. We did the Manx for the first time in 2016, which was my first non-single venue rally. We were seeded at number sixty-seven and finished eighteenth overall after setting seven top ten stage times. Last year’s Manx was my first rally in the Mirage R5 and were sixth for much of it before eventually finishing ninth. We then did the Rally Isle of Man National and crashed on stage four. The Mirage ran faultlessly on the Tour of Epynt, we were eighth overall when we had a first gear excursion in the pouring rain on the final stage, so I’d be happy to finish anywhere between fifth and tenth on the Manx National this year.”
Jamie Jukes said: “I’m looking forward to taking a brand new Mitsubishi Mirage R5 to the Manx National as part of a three car Spencer Sport team. There will be a quite a bit of friendly inter-team rivalry to see who will come out on top, but the important thing for me will be to reach the finish and highlight what a truly competitive and cost-effective package the Mirage R5 is. We’ve had some very good runs on the Isle of Man in the past – the stages offer a good challenge and it’s always a big adventure, and the start of the first stage can’t come soon enough.”
Charlie Jukes, Spencer Sport team manager, said: “We’re proud and excited to be running three R5-spec Mitsubishi Mirages for the first time, in what will be a comprehensive Spencer Sport team attack on the Manx National Rally. It’s great to welcome John Indri into the team and to return to the Isle of Man with Philip and Jamie, both of whom love rallying on the island and who have gone very well there in the past. We’re aiming for another strong performance and to once again showcase the Mirage R5’s exceptional capabilities on asphalt.”
Based at the famous TT Grandstand, the Manx Auto Sport-organised Bet on Aces Manx National Rally contains 130 stage miles over 16 special stages. Leg 1 begins late on the Friday afternoon and runs past midnight, giving the added challenge of night stages, and contains four separate stages ran twice. The event continues on Saturday with another four stages ran twice, including Parville which, at 12.86 miles, in the longest stage of the event.
Spencer Sport would to thank its partners for their support: Spencer ECA, Oil 4 Wales, Nicky Grist Motorsports, PIAA UK, Speedline Corse UK, Atech Racing, Motul, Hopkins Specialist Race Trailers, Sea & Slate Holiday Cottages and Ryley Wealth Management.