Citroen Racing Trophy raring to go in Wales
The first round of the 2010 Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship, Bulldog International Rally North Wales, will witness a great scrap between no less than seven crews in the ultra competitive Citroen Racing Trophy.
Six of the drivers are new to the Citroen Racing Trophy, attracted by a huge prize fund and the allure of the 1600cc cars with their sequential gearboxes and high revving engines.
Last year's Champion Northern Irishman Marty McCormack is having a crack at the French Rally Championship this year, so whatever happens there will be a new driver's name on the trophy and the outcome is almost impossible to try and forecast.
2009 Champion co-driver Phil Clarke has been enlisted by one of the three drivers who battled it out in last year's Swift Sport Cup. Australian Molly Taylor will have Clarke's experience to continue the fight with Swift champions Luke Pinder and Peter Scott, who took victory on the final round of 2009.
Pinder has an enviable track record to his credit and will be difficult to beat though. He took the Peugeot one-make series in 2006, followed by the BRC Challenge title in 2007 and although he had to be content with some good stage times in 2008, his speed in the Swift bodes well for the coming season.
Richard Sykes and Simon Taylor have even more experience of one-make and close run championships, choosing to stay with two wheel drive despite a frustrating season against Pinder and Taylor last year. Their pace in undeniable, but poor reliability has plagued them for the last couple of seasons so Sykes will hope that the Citroen will deliver consistent results.
Irishman from both sides of the border join the Citroen Racing Trophy, having competed in Fiestas before. County Dublin driver Robert Barrable and his hugely experienced co-driver Damien Connolly will mix it with Omagh's Mark Donnelly and Letterkenny's Paddy Robinson, a real cross-border attempt to take the title back to Ireland.
Joseph McGonigle also adds his name to the list of Irishmen having a go at the title. Accompanied by Niall Burns, the County Donegal driver will make the step up from his Civic to the much quicker Citroen, hoping his experience in last year's BRC will pay dividends.
Finally the only driver with experience of the little pocket rockets is Welshman Andrew Hockridge who although not yet registered for the championship, will surely want to sign up and take advantage of the massive prize fund.
All seven cars will line up on Saturday 27th March in Welshpool for one hundred miles of classic loose surface stages in some of the British Isles' most iconic forests. The whole event is based at the brand new Welshpool Livestock Market, starting at around 7am and finishing at 6.30pm.