22 year old Swede, Oscar Svedlund, took a resounding victory in the Production Category. Driving his Mitsubishi Evolution VI he commanded the lead for almost the whole event, until two stages from the finish, when driving on a punctured tyre he weakened a driveshaft and subsequently lost nearly two minutes, reducing his advantage to only 11.4 seconds as crews entered the final stage.
However, with the last test in Margam Park being cancelled due to a car going off the road, Svedlund claimed his reward.
"I am very happy with this result", commented the Swede at the finish. "This is my first ever Group N win in a WRC event and it means a great deal. The car has been great to drive and made me feel confident that I could stay in front."
Finishing second after an outstanding performance, was reigning British Touring Car Champion James Thompson, the York based driver showing many of the regular rally men the way home. With a display of talented driving in his newly acquired Lancer Evolution VII, he could well have netted victory in Group N if Svedlund had not overcome his problems so quickly on the penultimate test.
"I came to this event with an open mind", reported Thompson. "I just drove as fast as I felt was safe and with the car performing so well I am delighted to claim second. I would now welcome the opportunity to compete in both the British Touring Car Championship and the British Rally Championship next year."
Meanwhile, behind the leading pair, a last day battle raged for third in the Group N Class. First to leave the chase was Sheffield¹s Gavin Cox who put his Evolution VII off the road and out of the rally in the fog on the first of the day¹s stages. Cox was followed into retirement by Stig Blomqvist, the Swede’s Evo VI’s engine getting hotter and hotter until the head gasket expired.
Nik Elsmore was the next to suffer problems, when his charge to catch Thompson ended after a rough section of road deranged his car¹s rear suspension, dropping the Coleford driver from third to fourth.
All of this activity saw Jeremy Easson capitalise on the situation and rise from sixth to third in the class, the Rutland driver therefore pleased he had opted for a calculated performance on what proved to be a demanding event.
"It’s been a tough rally and I’m delighted to have finished third in the Production Car Category. My Mitsubishi has run faultlessly throughout the event which is a testimony to the car and my team that prepare it."
Easson’s entry on the Rally GB was supported by Mitsubishi Motors UK, in recognition of him winning the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge, a national rally series specifically for Group N Lancer Evolutions.Published 20 November 2002