Rallycross: Open Championship Nutts Corner preview

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RALLYCROSS OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP READY TO GO 'NUTTS' IN NORTHERN IRELAND Rallycross makes its return to Northern Ireland on April 25th & 26th, as Nutts Corner circuit near Belfast plays host to the second and third rounds of the 2009 Fuchs...

RALLYCROSS OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP READY TO GO 'NUTTS' IN NORTHERN IRELAND

Rallycross makes its return to Northern Ireland on April 25th & 26th, as Nutts Corner circuit near Belfast plays host to the second and third rounds of the 2009 Fuchs Lubricants Rallycross Open Championship.

The event has attracted an entry in excess of 100 cars, including International rally stars Kris Meeke and Kenny McKinstry.

Leading the points standings in the Division 1 category is Northern Irish star Derrick Jobb (Fintona) who won the opening event in the Championship at Croft Circuit last month. On home territory, back to back wins for Jobb would put him in the Championship driving seat, in what will be a key weekend in the 2009 Championship.

With the best six out of eight events counting towards the final Championship standings, drivers need to make sure that they take home at least one strong points score from the weekend.

Jobb will face strong opposition at the event from 2007 and 2008 Rallycross Open Champion, 'Mad' Mark Watson (Citroen Xsara), Tommy Graham (Ford Fiesta), Andy Grant (Ford Escort RS2000), Ollie O'Donovan (Peugeot 306), Steve Mundy (Ford Focus) and the 2009 English Masters Rallycross Champion, Mike Manning (Ford Puma).

Tommy Graham holds a small advantage having already tested his Ford Fiesta around the Nutts Corner Rallycross circuit, while Chris Langley (Ford Escort RS2000), Eddie Kinirons (Ford Focus) and Aiden McCullagh (Peugeot 206) all aim to get their season up and running following various dramas at Croft.

Mike Turpin (Vauxhall VX220) shook up the establishment in the Super National category at Croft, setting a benchmark for the rest to follow. Jamie Lea (Toyota MR2) had been on pole position at the event, but a bad start left him high and dry, forcing the Championship favourite to settle for second place ahead of Mike Howlin (Ford Fiesta).

With over twenty cars entered in the Super National category, including several Irish competitors, picking a winner is almost impossible. County Antrim based Stanley Bovill (Vauxhall Astra), Sam Bovill (Vauxhall Corsa), James McVicker (Renault Clio) and Don Shannon (Volvo S40) head the list of local drivers entered in the category.

Stuart Emery (Peugeot 306 Rallye) will be leading the fight back against 2007 Champion Dave Baines (Vauxhall Astra GSi) in the strong, eight car Procar 2000 entry, while Slawomir Woloch (Fiat Cinquecento) is determined to hang onto his points lead in Division 1A, despite increased opposition.

In the Procar 1600 category, Steve Heppenstall emerged victorious at Croft, followed by Kenny Hall, Martin Peters and Craig Brown. Nutts Corner will see the top four competitors pushed by numerous Irish competitors as the battle for the title heats up.

Keifer Hudson lived up to his pre-season Championship favourite status by winning the opening round of the Junior Rallycross Open Championship at Croft Circuit. Bradley Bailey pushed Hudson all the way, but Simon Quinn, Sam Kinirons and Kelly Bird will all be hoping to claim their first win of the season.

In the MDA Edwardes Bros Minicross Open Championship, any one of ten drivers could emerge victorious in Northern Ireland. John Thacker marked his return to the Championship with an impressive victory at Croft, but Mark Griffin, Ben Clark, Neil Wade and Kris Hudson are aiming for the top step of the podium. 2008 Championship runner-up David Bell, will also hope to keep his title ambitions on track following a disappointing result at the first event of the season.

Glenn Guthrie (VW Golf), John Mooney (Vauxhall Astra), Gary Coxon (Vauxhall Corsa), Lance Foster (Mini), Michael Henderson (Vauxhall Nova), Dean Jones (Ford Escort MK2) and David Black (Vauxhall Astra) all resume their battle for the Revivals title, while Jonathan Bean, Dave Bellerby, and John Clayton do likewise in the BMW Rear Wheel Drive Challenge. Bellerby makes his first Rallycross appearance of the year having hired a BMW 325 to take part in the event.

The RX150 Racing Championship will provide its usual close racing, with the added star attractions of Peugeot UK IRC Rally driver, Kris Meeke from Dungannon and ex Rallycross and Rally Champion, Kenny Mckinstry from Co Down. Leo Forster leads the Championship after winning the open round of the Championship, closely followed by Andy Scott, Chris Smith, Geoffrey Dolan and Joe Shrimpton.

The event will also include the 2009 Ulster Rallycross Masters, which will be the final event of the weekend for the top eight fastest competitors from the senior Rallycross category A finals.

-credit: rallycrossopen.com

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