The battle for the classes The Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship is not just about the fight at the front as it approaches the final round, Wales Rally GB this weekend. The battle at the front has been exciting but the classes...
The battle for the classes
The Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship is not just about the fight at the front as it approaches the final round, Wales Rally GB this weekend.
The battle at the front has been exciting but the classes have also been fiercely fought, Rally 1 the only category already decided. Having sealed the title already, Steve and Tony Graham have swapped their 1400cc MG for the diesel Astra that will feature on Rally GB as the "Art Car".
Rally 2 is perhaps the closest battle played out between Suzukis, Citroen C2s. Fiestas a Civic and an MG, with a different winner from each of the five rounds. Lorna Smith's inclusion in the Dealer Team Suzuki paid off with an opening round victory alongside her co-driver Joanne Oakey. Smith's season has already been exceptional; aside from a couple of minor dents, taking the British Ladies' title and the Irish Group N2 class win too. Matt Beebe's outstanding drive in his MG was more than enough for round two victory, while Swede Andreas Sjolander took a break from his campaign at home to win in the Isle of Man. Smith's team-mate Wozencroft won in Ulster and his second place behind Frazer Jones on the Scot's International debut, was enough to put "Woz" atop the class table before Rally GB.
Making the huge step from National one-make series' to the BRC has obviously suited Stefan Davis. He leads Rally 3 in his Puma S1600, having been pitted against Darren Gass and Conrad Rautenbach's much more modern cars. Dropped scores will help the Citroen pair with two wins apiece though; Rautenbach's second in the Isle of Man would have him in a strong position but he has opted for a Citroen Xsara for this WRC round.
MSA TEAMS CHAMPIONSHIP
It is nip and tuck in the MSA British Teams Rally Championship too as the lead was snatched back by Mitsubishi Motors UK when Humphreys failed to finish for Stobart TEG Sport in Yorkshire. Third placed Team TQ.com's own David Higgins has been ably assisted by Hugh Evans, not only the sponsor's CEO, but a fairly handy rally driver too, while the final place is held by 2006 Teams' champions Dealer Team Suzuki GB. The team has been at a disadvantage in its title defence, the two wheel drive Swift Sport no match for four wheel drive machinery.
MSA JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP
The MSA British Junior Rally Championship has had four winners and three leaders so far. Zimbabwean Rautenbach led after round one, but Gass took over on tarmac with wins on rounds two and three. Rautenbach closed the gap with a win on Gass's home asphalt, but newcomer Frazer Jones took 20 points from the regulars in Yorkshire. Wozencroft however, leads the category, with a string of solid finishes, six points clear of Gass.
In the Diesel Rally Cup Fin McCaul's chivalry on Rally Yorkshire has left Steve Graham in front of the oil burners. The BMW 120D driver had already rolled heavily and made running repairs, but he still stopped to help the stricken Astra, towing it to the finish after an off had holed its radiator.
Appropriately coming to Wales Rally GB, the Welsh lead the Nations' Cup by three points from England with Ireland a further nine points adrift. There have been eight Nations represented this year: Wales, England, Ireland, Scotland, Zimbabwe, Finland, Japan and Sweden.