Mansfield's Phil Hall misses out on title
FIA Junior World Rally Championship co-driver Phil Hall is encouraged by a “stellar” season in the co-drivers seat after narrowly missing out on taking the coveted title at Rally RACC Catalunya - Rally de España last month.
After five brutal rounds across Europe, Hall had guided fellow Briton Jon Armstrong to an impressive two victories and one podium result throughout the season.
It meant the Motorsport UK Team UK rally co-driver would head to the final round in Salou with a chance at taking his maiden world title.
And the all-British duo was in the box seat after the opening day in the daunting hillside stages, taking a 15-second lead into the second leg of the rally; within touching distance of the prestigious accolade.
But a rare mistake in a fog-strewn opening stage on the Saturday saw the chances of clinching the title slip away after losing over five minutes with an off-road excursion, further exacerbated later that day, clipping a culvert and sending the pairing out of the rally for the day.
Two fastest stage times on the final stage of the event was not enough to secure the required points and Hall would cross the finish ramp as a world championship runner up for the very first time in his career.
“Of course, I would have liked to be standing on that podium as a world champion but sadly it just wasn’t to be this time around,” said Hall.
“But I can really hold my head high and say that it’s been a stellar year for Jon and me and we have been fighting towards the front of the championship all season long.
"Taking the fight for the title down to the wire on the final round is something to be proud of and I`m delighted to have come so far this season.
"I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the Royal Air Force, ItsMyMotorsport and the Forest Experience Rally School for their unrivaled support this season”.
It’s been an ultra-impressive competitive season for the 33-year-old RAF Motorsport High Performing Athlete.
Despite only partnering with Armstrong for the first time at the start of 2021, Hall would call on all his previous world championship experience to kick-start their relationship with a scintillating win at the opening round of the season in Croatia.
Engine failure in Portugal was an unforced blip in Hall’s title challenge and second place in Estonia was the perfect recovery and arguably the best performance of the season came in Belgium at the Ypres Rally. Whilst Hall’s extensive experience had taken him across the globe, the Ypres Rally was an event he had never contested previously but adapted perfectly to the challenge.
Overcoming some of the unforgiving roads in Europe and with a significant lead of over one minute, Hall guided Armstrong to their second Junior WRC win of the season and at the time, were the only crew to have stood on the top step of the podium more than once in 2021.
Spain would provide a fitting grand slam to the season with iconic roads west of Barcelona providing the perfect backdrop to the championship title fight.
Sadly, an uncharacteristic error resulted in a fourth-place finish and all hopes of a title vanishing in the Spanish hills. But Hall is eager to focus on his achievements in 2021.
“Championship title aside, everything else is a huge positive for me and my career development,” he says.
“It’s been a huge race for the championship all season long and it’s been great to be at the very forefront of that, especially on the world’s stage.
"Jon has driven fantastically and he’s really proven his prodigious talent, so a huge thanks must go to him for such a great year."
"Personally, I believe it really cements my progress up the sporting ladder and proves that I have what it takes to perform at the very top level.
"It’s also been an honour to have put the Royal Air Force at the pinnacle of one of the most technologically relevant sports in the world.
"There are so many symmetries between the two disciplines, and it’s been great to be part of that relationship. It’s now time to focus on the next challenge and see what 2022 hold for me and my career, but rest assured it will be an exciting time and I really can’t wait to firm up my plans for the season ahead.”