(Pike's Peak, Wales) Team Jewson Isuzu racked up an impressive start to the season at the first round of the Britpart MSA British Cross Country Championship by scoring a class win at the inaugural event, and managing an impressive 5th in the overall standings - yet again splitting the many six-figure tube-framed custom special machines that the championship attracts. Over a weekend of mixed weather conditions, the team – and truck – were unstoppable, making this the perfect season opener for the manufacturer.
The first event was to prove to be a fruitful one for Team Jewson Isuzu. After a carefully-utilised off-season, the team had been able to make a number of small improvements to the truck's 2015 spec, which were to come into their own as the weekend unfolded.
Once again, able wheelman and rally veteran Jason Sharpe would be at the helm, but this time around the 'other' seat would be filled with Isuzu UK's very own Richard Lester, who had taken time out from his busy marketing role to scribe and read a few notes as Jason flew around the challenging course.
Pike's Peak is well-known as one of Wales' most impressive and challenging rally venues, of course. Plenty of flat, fast and sweeping sections, linked by deep ruts, jumps and technical twists. In short, the perfect playground for a modified D-Max. Now benefitting from further improvements to its BILSTEIN suspension, a tougher dual-layer sump guard from sponsors Forge, and a few extra ponies courtesy of Supernova Tuning's ECU work, the tough Isuzu was ready to do battle.
The weather was to play its part yet again, having rained and snowed heavily the night before the first day, dampening the rough, slate-covered surfaces and creating a mixture of grip conditions. As the day continued, however, the sun shone brightly, increasing temperatures and thoroughly drying the stage out, to make dust the new element to conquer, rather than mud! Once more, the exceptional grip offered by the Toyo Tires Open Country rubber brought home the bacon, keeping a clean sheet of zero punctures, despite the literal tons of jagged slate shards covering every inch of the track surface.
During the first day's running, the tough, dependable D-Max also kept its own exemplary score-sheet intact, shrugging off minor maladies such as melted shock bushes generated by the extreme heat created by the hard-working BILSTEIN dampers, twisted exhaust brackets from Jason's impressive jumps and even bent diff brackets from one spectacularly 'hot' and enthusiastic stage time. In short, the truck was unstoppable all weekend, allowing Jason and Rich to record an ever-descending series of stage times, resulting in an impressively quick 9.22 on the 6th run. Keen to try and top this, Jason then went 'all-out' on the final, seventh run, resulting in a 'minor excursion into the scenery' for a small detour, and a little added time.
Day 2 saw similarly impressive runs from the ever-improving partnership of Sharpe and Lester. With only five runs to record on the Sunday, the team quickly hit pace, and despite a couple of punctures during the day, as the stage surface wore down, revealing huge jagged pieces of slate, the truck still kept safely in the 9-minute bracket, keeping it high in the rankings.
When all stage times were noted and logged, Team Jewson Isuzu was declared as Production Class winner, and 5th in the overall rankings. The perfect starting point for a competitive season ahead.
“It feels great to be back, and I'm delighted with and grateful for the entire team's efforts this weekend. When you think we've been out of the saddle for six months now, it's been a great result for our first effort, and the new parts we fitted over the winter are working really well. We've got more power, better handling and the whole package inspires confidence. The Toyo rubber is a real boon too, as so many other vehicles got punctures at this event – and that's really helping us climb the board. Rich also did very well for his first weekend on the job! As he's learning his trade, I had to do a few of the first runs un-noted for the first few corners, but we're really starting to gel now and that's showing in the times. We were hoping to get a top ten finish, so to be fifth is simply fantastic! We're lucky enough to have speed and reliability, and that's really what made the difference here at Pike's Peak."
For more information on Team Jewson Isuzu, click www.isuzu.co.uk