The 2016 Pirelli MSA Welsh Forest Rally Championship gets underway this weekend with the Llandudno based Cambrian Rally.
Last year was a bumper one for the championship with strong entries and close, exciting battles throughout the season. Early indications are that 2016 should match, if not exceed it.
With reigning champion Bob Ceen stepping back from the sport for the time being, 2015 runner up Dylan Davies, from Lampeter and co-driver Llion Williams of Caernarfon will be keen to lay down an early marker in their Subaru Impreza as they get their 2016 campaign underway. They can expect a strong challenge.
However, from Abergele’s Luke Francis partnered once again by John H Roberts from Colwyn Bay who finished third in the Championship last year in the Bob Francis Crane Hire Mitsubishi Evo IX. They took maximum championship points on this event last year.
Worcestershire duo Paul Davy and Roger Allan in their Subaru Impreza will be out to defend their Group N title for less modified cars but they will be looking forward to a resumption of their season long battle with Haverfordwest’s Roland Llewellin, the Genpower Mitsubishi co-driven on this event by Mark Perryman.
Hugh Hunter only appeared on four rounds of the championship last year but took top Championship honours on two of those events so the Ruthin driver, co-driven by Cheshire’s Andy Marchbank should be well in the mix this weekend.
Others to look out for include Peter Stephenson in the Ford Focus, the Mitsubishi Evos of Shaun Gardener and Simon Rogers, both from Shropshire and the relatively rare Evo X of West Country pairing Martyn and Dawn England.
Having won last year’s junior title for drivers, Morgan Handford, from Pencoed is ineligible for that award this season but can look to defend his Class 3 title in his Volkswagen Polo. Meanwhile reigning champion junior co-driver Caron Tomlinson will be in action in the Mark II Escort of Gavin Edwards.
Runner up in last year’s junior driver battle Meirion Evans meanwhile will be in action in his Fiesta R2T while third placed Thomas Bayliss, from Newtown, returns in his Nissan Micra. Watch out too for the Proton Satria of Jordan Hone. The Derry driver finished fourth in the junior battle last year.
As well as welcoming back Pirelli as title sponsors, the Championship plays host for a second year to the RAVENOL Welsh Challenge, won last year by Dylan Davies. The Challenge sees points awarded throughout the season to championship contenders based on performance within classes and has an end of season prize fund worth £3000 provided by the high performance lubricant manufacturers.
This year also sees fuel and motorsport apparel suppliers Vital Equipment sponsoring the Junior Championship. As well as providing a prize fund, the Pontrilas based company are also working closely with the Championship organisers to develop other initiatives, including a training day for the younger drivers.
Meanwhile, the Pirelli Welsh Hyundai Genpower awards will see vouchers worth a further £3000 handed out to competitors from across the championship classes which can be used to purchase a Hyundai generator or power washer.
The first car on the event will leave Llandudno Promenade at 08:01 on Saturday morning and is due to return at 15:28. You can find out details of spectator points and how to spectate safely on the event website, www.cambrianrally.co.uk, and about the championship on www.wnrc.wamc.org.uk, on the Championship Facebook page and on Twitter @WnRC.