Motorsport UK Team squad member and RAF Reservist Phil Hall has become the first British co-driver to win a round of the FIA Junior World Rally Championship since 2014, storming to a convincing victory at Croatia Rally alongside fellow Briton Jon Armstrong.
Despite the newly formed partnership contesting an event for the very first time together, Hall guided the pairing to a ground-breaking win across the perilous Croatian closed road event, securing his maiden Junior WRC win in the process.
Hall now leads the Junior World Rally Championship standings.
“There isn’t a better start to a new alliance than winning a round of the Junior World Rally Championship, Jon and I have put a huge amount of hard work into getting ready for this season. I felt ready for the challenge thanks to my fitness regime, honed as a part of Motorsport UK Team UK .To be rewarded with a win on probably one of the most unpredictable events I’ve done, is very special indeed. I'm very proud to be part of the first British crew to win a round of the series since 2014 too”
The five-round season blasted into life at an all-new WRC round in Croatia, with gruelling stages, gravel-strewn corners and relentlessly fast country roads making up the three 15 hour competition days with 300 kilometres of special stage action.
Whilst a new partnership in the car inevitably needs time to bed in, Hall used his previous experience and the grounding that comes from being a part of Team UK to keep Armstrong firmly on track during the event.
“It was a very difficult rally for a co-driver with note delivery immensely critical so it was important to be on my A-game throughout. Jon and I had worked on our rapport during lockdown using eMotorsport synthetic training to help build trust with each other, but there is no substitute for being in a car together”
I’m extremely proud to be the first RAF Reserves High Performing Athlete and an RAF Reserves ambassador, competing at this elite level shows the dynamic and multi-faceted elements of life as an RAF Reserve. The Royal Air Force has helped me develop new skills and experiences, which I have transferred into the sport, and I've put every one of those to good use during the weekend.”
Hall believes his support network was a critical part of his victory and the support of RAF Motorsports, Directorate RAF Sport, RAF Marketing and the RAF Reserves have been key to getting this far.
“I am so lucky to be able to draw upon the skills of so many people and it has ensured I'm at the best level I’ve ever been performance wise. The development pathway in Team UK has been fantastic and getting assistance from the likes of WRC co-driver Seb Marshall is great. There is always more to learn and develop, and there’s a lot to take away from this event and work on for the next round in Portugal. I must say thank you to everyone that has supported me so far, it’s a real honour to be leading a World Championship”.
The second round of the FIA Junior World Rally Championship takes the crews to Portugal at the end of May for the first gravel event of the season.