Garry Pearson and Callum Black will go head-to-head in the battle for the Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship title as the 2021 series reaches an exciting climax on the Rallynuts Stages Rally on Saturday.
Having scored maximum points on the previous two rounds, the Eventsigns Woodpecker Rally and Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally, Garry (below) takes a six-point lead into the final round postponed from April.
With a score to drop towards the final points tally, if Garry and co-driver Niall Burns win again it will give the Asset Alliance Škoda Fabia R5 crew a perfect three maximum score result and their first Welsh title.
If Callum wins and Garry finishes second, they would be tied on points – with Garry winning the tiebreak.
Whilst Callum is currently third in the overall drivers’ standings, the 2017 Pirelli Welsh champion could win the title again – but he must finish first or second.
Co-driven by Jack Morton, Callum (below) was the early leader of the Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship after taking victory on the opening Nicky Grist Stages. He kept his title hopes alive with a second-place finish in his Pallas Connections-backed Ford Fiesta R5 on the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally, but his retirement on the Woodpecker could come back to haunt him, especially in a tiebreak situation.
Neither driver has rallied in Myherin, Sweet Lamb and Hafren forests for several years. Callum was last there on the 2017 Wales Rally GB, while Garry hasn’t seen them since the 2014 WRGB.
George Lepley arrives at the Rallynuts Stages lying second in the overall drivers’ standings. But with a second and two thirds the WD-40 Mitsubishi Evo X driver can only add five points to his current total (when taking the lowest score to drop into account) and is therefore unable to win the overall title. Together with Tom Woodburn, George is more than capable of winning the event, especially as the fast and flowing mid-Wales stages will suit his car, and he has already claimed the Pirelli Welsh Junior title and the magnificent prize of a test in a PCRS Rallysport-prepared Hyundai i20 R5, courtesy of OnThePaceNote.co.uk.
Work commitments prevented Ian Bainbridge from contested the last round, but he and co-driver Will Atkins are looking forward to returning to the Welsh forests in their Gypsum Group Škoda Fabia R5. The 2018 Rallynuts Stages was Ian’s first forest rally, where he was seeded at number 90 in a Subaru Impreza. His rapid rise through the rallying ranks, particularly since he acquired the Fabia, means that another good result could secure him the Pirelli Welsh runners-up spot.
It’s certainly not been the season Matthew Hirst (Delta Salvage Mitsubishi Evo IX) and Russ Thompson (Dunnow Plant Mitsubishi Evo IX) had been hoping for, so the respective 2019 Pirelli Welsh driver champion and runner-up will be aiming to end 2021 on a high. Matthew has been co-driven by Declan Dear all season, while Russ will have Tom Murphy alongside him this time, his third co-driver of the season.
The 2018 Pirelli Welsh driver champion Dylan Davies hit a rock and lost a wheel on the Cambrian Rally and, together with Mark Glennerster on the route notes, will be hoping for better luck this time in his Subaru Impreza.
Perry Gardener/Jack Bowen, who had a fantastic run to fourth on the Woodpecker, return in their Ford Fiesta R5, as do Wug Utting/Bob Stokoe (Subaru Impreza STi N12b), Nik Elsmore/Craig Drew (CDS Taxis Mitsubishi Evo IX) and Martyn and Dawn England (SW Motorsport Mitsubishi Evo X).
Richard Hill/Patrick Cooper (RH Motors Mitsubishi), Saleh Hijazi/Stephen Landen (The Pallet Company Subaru Impreza STi), Keith Jones/Jonny ‘Tad’ Evans (Grooms Garage Subaru Impreza), Martyn Andrews/Steve Greenhill (Opie Oils Subaru Impreza) and Fraser Martin/Dylan Bargate (Slideways Motorsport Mitsubishi Evo 6) will all be aiming to finish the season in style, whilst after a good debut in their new car Bob Morgan/Adrian Williams will be another crew to watch in their Winner Garage Škoda Fabia R5.
David Tomlin, who retired his Axon Ford Fiesta R5 with clutch problems on the Cambrian, will be co-driven by Ian Beamond as his regular navigator Keith Ashley is otherwise engaged as Rallynuts Stages Clerk of the Course and Chief Safety Officer.
There is a good battle for the RAVENOL UK Welsh Challenge, with several drivers still in contention for the title.
Owen McMackin co-driven by Lee Taylor currently leads the points standings in his McMackin Plant Hire Escort Mk2 (below), although Ashley Davies (co-driven by Sam Fordham) in his G&B Finch/Burton Power Escort Mk2 and David Crossen (co-driven by Aileen Kelly) in his Crossen Engineering Escort Mk2 could still win the title.
Maxx Bradshaw/Liam Whiteley have travelled from the Isle of Man for every round of this year’s Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship and after finishing fourth in the Challenge category on the Cambrian the Manx men will be hoping to end the season with a podium finish in their Renvo8/DB Autos & Sons Mitsubishi Evo III.
There is also a close fight for the Restruct-sponsored Two-Wheel Drive title.
Owen McMackin leads that category as well, with Ashley Davies and David Crossen also able to win. In fact, the latter could win the title with a perfect score of 90 points, having won the class on the Nicky Grist and the Woodpecker.
Having given his immaculate Wales Motorsport-built Restruct Escort Mk2 its debut on the Woodpecker, Two-Wheel Drive class sponsor Ron Morgan will contest the Rallynuts with Marc Clatworthy once again in the co-driver’s seat.
Retirement on the Cambrian Rally means that Ioan Lloyd is unable to win the Two-Wheel Drive title, although the fact that he’s been challenging for that trophy in his West Wales Rally Spares Peugeot 208 R2 highlights what a talented youngster he is. Co-driven by Sion Williams, the teenager’s priority was always the class W3 title, although he is in a race against time to repair his car after hitting a rocky outcrop and breaking a strut last time out.
Paul Street/Ian Jones lead the highly competitive Pirelli Welsh Historic Cup after a win, a second and a fourth-place finish in their Escort RS1800 Mk2. They can only be beaten to the title by Paul Barrett (Escort Mk2).
Ben Friend/Cliff Simmons finished second in class on the Woodpecker and will be looking to end the season with a Pirelli Welsh Historic Cup win in their Allglass Escort Mk2, although winning the title is beyond them.
Jonathan Brace/Paul Spooner (Brace’s Bakery Escort Mk2), Charles Hopkinson/Alan Jones (Black Antler Design Escort RS1800 Mk2), Neal James/Kevin Jones (Mosley Rolling Road/Cwm Engineering Escort Mk2) and Michael McDaid/Declan Casey (McDaid Pharmacy Escort RS1800 Mk2) will also be hoping to end their Pirelli Welsh Historic Cup season with a good result.
|Robi Wood/Osian Davies must win the Pirelli Welsh Road Rally class in their NIBS/SWG Escort Mk2 to have any chance of winning the title. Leaders Ricky Crone/Daniel James (Escort Mk2) have one hand on the trophy, after two wins and a second this season and don’t even have to finish if Robi doesn’t win the class to be crowned champions.|
Graham Thatcher/Tim Samuel (Pembridge Vehicle Management Peugeot 206GTi) and Mark Lennox/Rhodri Evens (Lennox Engineering Escort Mk2) have both enjoyed a good season and excelled in the Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship’s newest class.
Adrian and Matthew Walk will be aiming to secure the W2 title in their PartBOX Ford Ka, having already won the class twice this year.
Steve Black is already the class W3 champion and, co-driven by Paul Morris, the 586 Sports team driver will be out for a bit of giant-killing fun in his rapid Suzuki Swift 1400.
|To highlight the vast array of cars that are welcomed into the Pirelli Welsh Rally Championship’s inclusive class structure, other registered competitors contesting the Rallynuts Stages include Paul Walker/Geraint Thomas (Subaru Impreza), James Dunkley/Dan Sayce (JD Auto Services Vauxhall Corsa), Richard Jordan/James Smith (MG ZR), Conor Tolson/Dylan Thomas (Powerhouse Turbo Garage Ford Fiesta R2), Kevin Metcalfe/Ian Jones (BMW E30), Rob Wilson/Martin Haggett (Ravenol Ford Fiesta R2), Harry Hunt/Steve McPhee (Ford Escort), Robert Bradley/Kevin Booth (Browns Furniture Ford Escort Mk2), Andrew Fox/Jaime-Lee Fox (Fitzgerald Plant Services BMW 325), Paul Lomas/Mark Leader (Plant Speed Ford Escort), Bob Morris/Dil John (Subaru Impreza), Simon Dalton/Jamie Vaughan (Subaru Impreza STi N12b), Steve Hollis/Tim Currie (Volkswagen Golf R), Tom Naylor/Tom Bishop (Ford Fiesta ST), Alan Desbois/Peter Littlefield (RWD Peugeot 306) and Simon and Alex Stanbury in their MG ZR.|