Competitors in the Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship are back in action on Sunday and just two weeks on from the opening round of the season, writes Peter Hughes.
Osian Pryce and co-driver Dale Furniss took maximum points on the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally but, in their absence this weekend, a number of their rivals will be looking to close the gap in the championship standings with a strong performance on the Newtown based Grooms Garage Mid Wales Stages.
Among those crews are Lampeter duo Dylan Davies and Llion Williams who finished in fourth place on the opening round. Llangefni’s Keith Parry and Eryl Evans, from Aberystwyth, are two points behind them and will be looking to improve on that opening round performance.
Both pairings can expect a strong challenge, however, from Bryncrug drive Andy Davies, also in a Subaru Impreza, who will make his first Championship appearance of the year teamed up with co-driver Max Freeman.
Freeman, from Stafford, took outright victory on the Cambrian Rally alongside Derbyshire driver Ollie Mellors but the team were ineligible for Championship points.
Another driver making his first appearance of the year will be Surrey’s Wug Utting and co-driver Bob Stokoe. Like Andy Davies, Utting led the Championship standings for part of last season but will also be looking to claim points in the Group N category for less modified cars in his Impreza. Wug’s son Max will also be in action along with co-driver Mike Ainsworth in their Ford Fiesta ST.
Other front runners should include West Country husband and wife pairing Martyn and Dawn England in their R5 specification Ford Fiesta and Championship stalwart Geoff Cottrill teamed up with Nathan Crew in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX.
The Group N standings are currently led by former champions Paul Davy and Roger Allen, both from Worcester while looking to come back from a non-finish on the opening round are Staffordshire driver Nev Davies and co-driver Chris Jones from Newbridge-on-Wye, also in an Impreza.
The two-wheel drive category one again looks set for a hard-fought battle with Newark driver Barry Jordan and Newcastle Emlyn’s Paul Wakely taking on the ranks of the Ford Escorts and BMWs in their Fiat 131.
Among the Escort crews will be Gary Smith and Newtown’s Jonny ‘Tad’ Evans while looking to uphold BMW honours will be 2017 two-wheel drive champions Andrew and Jamie-Lee Fox as well as Worcester’s Colin Griffiths with a yet to be named co-driver.
The RAVENOL Welsh Challenge is a new addition to the Championship this season and is open to competitors who have not previously finished in the top 10 overall on a Championship round. With the season long prize fund valued at more than £3000 there will be plenty of crews keen to rise to the challenge.
Crews on the event, organised by Newtown and District Automobile Club, will leave the start line at the town’s Hafren Theatre from 9am to tackle five special stages before returning to the Theatre from 3:30pm. Spectators will be able to see the cars in action at the Sweet Lamb Rally Complex. Pic Martyn and Dawn England return to the Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship this weekend.
More prize money announced for crews
Michelin Motorsport and Peugeot Sport UK/Ireland have joined forces to create the Michelin Peugeot Sport Cup which will run in the 2018 Prestone MSA British Rally Championship for the 208 R2 in the Prestone MSA Motorsport News Junior BRC – offering a substantial total prize fund of £24,000 for the season ahead.
The Cup, which will be open to any Peugeot 208 R2 crew in the Junior BRC who competes on Michelin tyres and uses Total oils supplied by Peugeot Sport UK/Ireland distributor Race & Rally, will be eligible to fight for a cash incentive based on their performance in the series.