James Williams will step up into the British Rally Championship top-flight league this season when he makes his debut in a Proton Iriz R5 on this weekend’s opening round of the series, the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally.

The 21-year-old from Newcastle Emlyn has become an established name in Britain’s premier rallying series, taking multiple Junior BRC podiums including two dominate wins in Ypres, Belgium – with his 2019 result elevating him to one of the country’s brightest rallying prospects.

“The last two years have been fairly successful in the JBRC and I felt like I have earned the right to move up,” says James. “We could have had more success, okay, we won a few events, but we were unlucky to not win a few more. I am the most relaxed I have been for a number of years and the 2020 move is a natural progression for myself and the exciting Proton project.”

The University of Wales student proved himself to be a giant-killer in his previous seasons in the BRC, as his front-wheel drive exploits showed his talent behind the wheel – as he put plenty of R5 cars behind him on the results sheets. Now James joins the Malaysian manufacturer for the BRC curtain-raiser and is impressed with what he has seen so far.

“I have followed the Mellors Elliott Motorsport team quite intently the past few seasons and I am delighted to be able to have the opportunity to show what the Iriz R5 can do on the stages and I hope we can give them a good result on the Cambrian – our home BRC round,” he added.

“I am delighted to have HT Installations back on my car again this year. This is a big thing for me as they have supported me from a young age. I’m fortunate to also have further local support too from Cambrian Training and as a young Welsh driver I am looking forward to representing them on their home round.

“I’ve driven the R5 Fiesta and the Hyundai during a BRC test which was a great experience, so I had a benchmark in the soil so I could see where the Iriz matched-up against the others. I was very surprised with the package from Proton. Factory driver Ollie Mellors has proved on BTRDA events that the car is very competitive, and I hope we can replicate that and if the opportunity arises, I want to continue this beyond the first round as I am very excited by the project.”

The Visit Conwy Cambrian awaits for the young Welshman – an event that provokes mixed emotions for the young star.

“I really like the stages, they are real classics. When I was 17, I drove them in my Ford KA and did well. Since then, apart from 2018, I don’t seem to have had the luck on the event. In 2018 we won the R2 class despite never having driven the car, it had just rolled out of the workshop. I hope history can repeat itself this weekend!”

Helping Williams every step of the way will be his co-driver and fellow West Walian Dai Roberts, a man with experience under his belt from all over the world.

“With the step into a R5 car, Dai [Roberts] was a natural choice as we have a lot in common. We have the same attitude, as we both want to win – whatever the cost. We may not have the biggest budget, but we have the biggest hearts and the biggest aspirations. I might be stepping-up, but I don’t have the fear factor, as we want to show we deserve to be at the sharp-end and we are ready to turn over some big names this season.”

James Williams wears a Stilo WRC DES COMPOSITE helmet and bespoke P1 Advanced Racewear suit supplied by Nicky Grist Motorsports.

James Williams, Dai Roberts, British Rally Championship, Proton Iriz R5, Llandudno, motorsport, motor sport, cars