UK: Astra Stages preview

Pearcey aims to get Kwik-er on the Astra. Tim Pearcey will look to extend his early lead in the KUMHO Clubman Rally Championship next weekend, as he brings his Ford Escort RS to North Wales for the second round of the National B series, The ...

Pearcey aims to get Kwik-er on the Astra.

Tim Pearcey will look to extend his early lead in the KUMHO Clubman Rally Championship next weekend, as he brings his Ford Escort RS to North Wales for the second round of the National B series, The Vauxhall Astra Stages Rally, based in Llangollen.

Pearcey and co-driver Mick Johnson took victory on a tragically shortened Kall Kwik Rally a month ago, and head south from Yorkshire determined to maintain their winning ways in the classical North Wales forestry stages. Chasing them hard will be a host of Ford Escort drivers all equally keen to deprive the 'Z Farm' duo of maximum points.

Kumho Championship newcomer Stuart Clarke will be a man to watch as he teams up with the vastly experienced co-driver Mike Jones for the event. Clarke was a two wheel drive front runner in the BTRDA Championship before making the switch to the Kumho Clubman series.

Clarke will be chased hard by regular Championship pace setter James Potter in his King of Shaves backed Ford Escort. The Kent driver is no stranger to Kumho Clubman victories and will be keen to make up for a bad start on the opening round where he finished down the order. Potter and co-driver Bob Stokoe recently contested the Rally of Kent for some match practice, and James is looking forward to the Welsh stages.

Yorkshireman Steve Magson brings his rare Vauxhall Astra RWD to the event, having made a number of changes to the car over the winter months. A consistent top five pace setter, Magson is hoping for more reliability this season, and will look to be near the podium on April 3rd.

Well travelled young Manx duo George Collister and co-driver Rob Fagg make the journey over the Irish Sea for their first visit to the Astra Stages. Collister was in good form on the Kall Kwik Rally, despite a number of early morning spins. The pair will be keen to build up their points tally with a good showing in North Wales. Another driver keen to do well is series regular Allan McDowall. The Scotsman is another who owns a rare car in the series, this time an Opel Kadett RWD. Always consistent, McDowall is well overdue a win in the series and cannot be discounted to take the honours next weekend.

The Motorsport Direct Cup is also making its second outing of the year on the Astra Stages, and the clear favourite for honours once again is the highly talented duo of Andy Gwynne and Holly Robinson. The pair took the Kumho Super 1600 title in last years series and have moved into the Motorsport Direct Cup with their Vauxhall Corsa Kit Car. Gwynne overcame some niggling problems in Yorkshire last month to take maximum points and the win in the category, collecting the 1600cc class award in the process. Gwynne's pace is such that he will be a major contender for overall podium honours.

Chasing Gwynne for 1600 honours are two stalwarts of the series -- Motorsport Direct proprietor Iain Shirlaw and his long term adversary Ian McCulloch. Proton man Iain suffered gearbox failure in his Proton on the first round, whilst McCulloch kept his Toyota Corolla GT on the island in the slippery conditions to record his customary reliable points scoring finish. McCulloch benefiting from KUMHO tyres that he won after a fine performance on the Bulldog Rally last year.

With highly rated youngster James Wozencroft unable to get an entry on the event, John Brooks looks favourite to take honours in the smallest category on the event, for cars up to 1400cc. The Motorsport Direct cup entrant keen to make the most of the fact that the rapid Ludlow youngster is missing out on the event. Suffolk based Irishman Brian McGuinness will do his best to keep Brooks honest on the event.

Further information on the Vauxhall Astra Stages Clubman Rally can be found on www.astrastages.co.uk

-kcrc-

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