A Swift, decisive end to the season in prospect On the final round of the MSA British Rally Championship's Swift Sport Cup it comes down to this: whoever wins from the top three takes the title. International Rally Yorkshire, the one-make...
A Swift, decisive end to the season in prospect
On the final round of the MSA British Rally Championship's Swift Sport Cup it comes down to this: whoever wins from the top three takes the title. International Rally Yorkshire, the one-make series' decider, is a short, sharp finale to what has been a fascinating and exciting second season and it is still too hard to predict a likely outcome, as all three have wins to their credit.
At the top of the standings are Gordon Nichol and Emma Morrison. The Scotsman's win came on the home tarmac of the Jim Clark rally back in May, but he is certainly capable of going well on gravel as well as asphalt, having spent a full season in the little Suzuki last year. Budgetary constraints mean that last year's runner up may have to forgo the pre-event test, but whatever happens he will give it 100% in the quest for the title.
While Nichol is the only driver with experience of all six rounds of the Championship at the wheel of the Swift, close behind on points is Australian Molly Taylor who made her UK debut in Yorkshire last year. She and Jemma Bellingham have worked well all season, taking both their wins on gravel on the opening two rounds. But they struggled on asphalt, so will be relishing the return to gravel and could not only secure the overall title here, but take the Junior category and with it an automatic place in the Pirelli Star Driver final.
But Yorkshire youngster Luke Pinder is also after that spot as well as the Swift Sport Cup, having made the final last year with an excellent drive on this event. He and co-driver Peter Scott will need to stay focused to try and achieve the double, particularly with two crashes this year. The first spectacularly ended his Pirelli Rally lead, while a frustrating coming together with a bank cost a good result on the recent Ulster Rally.
With Manxman David Harrison missing from the entry list, Richard Sykes and Simon Taylor should easily leap-frog him for fourth in the table. The pair could still mathematically take the runners-up spot too, but that would require retirements at the front and the Midlander will have all his attention on a second event win, triumphing in Ulster a month ago.
Like Pinder, Nicolas Everard has county honours to uphold and the Hull based 2009 BRC debutant has had a challenging year so far. The learning curve in the UK's premier rally championship has been a steep one for the 21 year-old and his co-driver Chris Davies, but they have improved steadily and home support is certain to boost his confidence after a difficult Ulster.
With just nine stages making up International Rally Yorkshire, it will be a sprint to the finish and all the combatants will need to be on their toes from the 08.40 start. The unique character of the North Yorkshire forests of Dalby, Cropton ad Gale Rigg means ultra fast sections and tricky junctions to negotiate, a real test of nerve for the Swift crews who finish back at the event's Pickering base at just after 6pm on Saturday.