Will Corry and Brynmor Pierce are riding the crest of a wave. They gave the Toyota GT86 CS-R3 its maiden rally victory at August’s John Mulholland Motors Ulster National A Rally, less than 12 months after it was homologated. And they followed that with a top 20 result, as well as first in the BRC3 class, at the Rally Isle of Man…
It has been a very positive couple of months and for Belfast based Corry, who has limited rally experience on UK soil, it has been a dream come true.
“If you had told me at the start of the year that this was going to happen, I wouldn’t have believed you!” Corry told Pacenotes.
The combination of the GT86 CS-R3 along with Corry behind the wheel transpired as a result of a friendship that was struck between the Northern Ireland man and Rally Prep owner, Neil Yates.
A few years ago, when Yates was involved with the Murtaya sports cars, he was looking for someone to help build a rally version of the car…
“We helped build the car and I was appointed as the American distributor,” Corry said. “Neil and I have remained friends and stayed in contact since then. When he became involved with Toyota, he wanted a safe pair of hands to drive the GT86 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The car is the only one of its kind in the UK and Ireland, and I was entrusted to drive it!”
Corry finished eighth overall and first in the two-wheel drive category, signalling that the combination of the Belfast man and the GT86 could be a force to be reckoned with on the stages.
But just how has Corry, who has seemingly come from nowhere in the stage rally scene, managed to achieve such good results and consistency so quickly?
The 33-year-old has been surrounded by motorsport since he was born. His father, Will Corry Snr, founded the Corry Car Company and developed the Corry Cultra after purchasing the rights to the Davrian Dragon in the early ’80s. He also raced cars competitively for around 30 years.
“I grew up kicking around mechanics’ feet in the workshop,” Corry told Pacenotes, “and I was sitting on my dad’s knee in cars from no age. I still have the J40 that I got for Christmas when I was two and a half years old! My three-year-old son, Ben, is now the proud owner.”
Corry’s dad was heavily involved in the MG Car Club and owned the same Metro 6R4 that David Llewellin used to win the Circuit of Ireland Rally.
“I remember being driven to Kirkistown in that car,” he recalled. “I have lots of fond memories. The likes of McRae and Bob Fowden used to stay at our house when the Ulster Rally was on. I remember arriving to scrutiny in Bob Fowden’s Sierra Cosworth. It was virtually guaranteed that I was going to be involved in motorsport when I was older!”
Will now runs Corry Motorsport and Corry Classics but he also has a wealth of competitive motorsport experience behind him. Before moving to America, he bought a Vauxhall Corsa rally car and entered four events within nine days in a bid to get his International licence in 2007.
“I bought the Corsa on eBay for £4,500,” he revealed. “The lad that owned it had gone on holiday and spent over £1000 texting his girlfriend back home so his father made him sell it as a life lesson!”
“So I did the four events, got the signatures and then the guy’s father bought the car back for £4000, unknown to his son. So it cost me £500 to do four rallies – cheap rental!”
Having an international licence permitted Corry to go straight into four-wheel drive machinery in America. He purchased a Prodrive Group N Impreza and entered the Colorado Hill Climb.
“It’s not your average hill climb,” he explained. “It’s around six miles long and it’s on gravel.”
Corry went on to win Rookie of the Year in the Colorado Hill Climb Championship and he also entered a handful of stage rallies. He finished fifth overall and first in Group N at the 2007 Rally Colorado, behind competitors such as Ken Block, Tanner Foust and Travis Pastrana, who all had more powerful ‘Open Class’ machinery.
He switched his car to Open Class spec for 2008 but mechanical issues thwarted his progress, although he still managed to take seventh overall at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood. That same year, he returned home and hired an Impreza WRC for the Lurgan Park Rally, which he admitted wasn’t the best place to learn a WRC car!
Since returning home, he has concentrated on contesting autotests, trials, sprints and hill climbs. Successes have continued to mount in those disciplines, including multiple wins at the popular Derek Walker Classic Trial and Circuit of Ireland Retro.
Until a couple of months ago, he had no plans to make a return to stage rallying. Then the invite to drive at Goodwood blossomed into bigger and better things. A couple of weeks before the Ulster Rally, a deal was struck to drive the car at his home event, and that resulted in National A Rally victory, ahead of Andy Johnson’s potent Chevette HSR.
“It’s probably one of the easiest and most docile cars that you could drive,” Will admitted. “It’s so mild mannered and so comfortable. How it brakes is utterly breathtaking – it’s savage. The only other car that I’ve driven which has been as good on the brakes was the S9 WRC Impreza. I think that’s where it makes a lot of its time through a stage. And suspension wise, it flies beautifully over the jumps.”
With a solid result at the Ulster behind him, the opportunity to contest the Rally Isle of Man was too good to miss. Navigated once again by Bryn Pierce, they managed to seal a top 20 finish and first in class.
Remember – this rally car is less than 12 months old and Corry had never contested either the Ulster or the Manx rallies before.
“We were trying different setups on the Isle of Man,” Corry said. “We couldn’t test before the event, so we were testing on the event instead. We tried different spring rates and that sort of thing. The car was fit to put in top 15 overall times on some stages which is sensational. But there’s still a lot more to come – from both me and the car. ”
It was late in 2015 that the car became the first new rear-wheel drive rally car to be granted FIA homologation in the 21st century. And it helped to add a bit more variety to the previously front-wheel drive only R3 category.
It has a two-litre, normally-aspirated boxer engine which has a maximum power of 232hp and a peak torque of 235Nm. Combined with Drenth six-speed sequential transmission, which has been designed specifically for rear-wheel drive cars, as well as a limited slip rear differential and Reiger suspension, it handled like a dream straight out of the box.
The car is targeted at privateer drivers with a kit costing €84,000 (plus VAT) – that includes the complete chassis and powertrain.
The future of the GT86 CS-R3 looks bright and Will Corry is hoping to make an even bigger mark on the stages next year, depending on budget.
“I’d like to do the entire 2017 British Rally Championship but it all comes down to funding,” Corry said. “Even to run an R1 Fiesta in the BRC, it costs around £100,000 per year. Some guys are spending north of one million!”
“It’s a different planet after you scratch the surface,” he continued. “You wonder how it’s possible. I’d like to try to find a budget to do it in the Toyota but I need to find some fairly major backers.”
It’s a case of ‘watch this space’ for Corry and the Toyota. But bearing in mind the car is less than one year old, and Corry is still learning how to get the best from himself and the car on the stages, we’re sure that if he does contest the 2017 BRC, it could be a very interesting season for the team.
Words: Jonathan MacDonald | PaceNotes Photos: Graham Curry