THE STAGES ARE SET FOR THIS WEEK'S RALLY OF SCOTLAND
There are now just days to go until this weekend's 2010 Royal Automobile Club Motor Sport Association Rally of Scotland (15-17 October). The UK's round of the 2010 Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) is a major sporting event for Scotland and has attracted a high-class entry, including many of the world's top drivers plus a host of local crews all hoping to make a name for themselves on the international stage.
The spectacular show is flagged away on Friday evening at Scone Palace near Perth, home of the historical Stone of Destiny and where former kings and queens of Scotland were crowned. The high-speed competition then switches to more traditional rally country - the legendary forest gravel tracks of Perthshire and Stirlingshire. Saturday's challenging stages are in the Tay region mountains to the north-west of Perth, while the Trossachs provide a stunning backdrop to Sunday's action before the mid-afternoon ceremonial finish at Stirling Castle.
The route totals more than 800km with some 200km of those made up of competitive special timed stages. Furthermore, a third of the event will be shown live around the world by leading sports TV broadcaster Eurosport which, from its headquarters in Paris, France will this week descend on the region with an army of satellite trucks, camera vehicles and helicopters to cover the action for an audience of millions.
"We have just driven over the entire rally route and the special stages are in really good condition. It's going to be a fast and fabulous event for both the fans and competitors," reports Iain Campbell, Rally of Scotland Clerk of the Course. "There were some concerns that we might have to revise the opening stage in the grounds of Scone Castle after an historic 16th century arch was destroyed by a contractor's van, but I'm delighted to say that we've just been given clearance to run the section as originally planned."
Campbell also predicts a fiercely fought and exciting contest. "All the top names are coming to Scotland," he says. "Both reigning IRC champion Kris Meeke (Northern Ireland) and 2010 IRC champion elect Juho Hanninen (Finland) are in the field along with last year's Rally of Scotland winner Guy Wilks (England). There are lots of excellent Scottish crews, too. David Bogie (Dumfries) starts with high hopes fresh from winning back-to-back Scottish Rally Championships and Dave Weston Jr (Aberdeen) will be hoping to bounce back following a large accident in the last round of the World Rally Championship in France. No rally in Scotland would be complete without a member of the celebrated McRae family and I'm delighted that Alister McRae will be lining up among the stars, no doubt trying to go one better than the second place he achieved last year. As an event, we are also raising funds for Colin McRae Vision, the charity established in memory of our great local rallying world champion and hero."
Tickets can still be purchased during the event, priced £10 for Friday's opening action at Scone Palace or £20 for a day pass that includes access to all stages and service areas on either the Saturday or Sunday.* Admission for accompanied children aged 15 and under is FREE.
Furthermore, on the Sunday fans will also a National-seeded rally follow the main IRC contenders through both the Clashmore 1 & 2 and Loch Ard 2 stages.