"Stilos Go Down To The Wire"
The Fiat Stilo Rally Cup joins the final round of the Kwik Fit Pirelli British Rally Championship as this new one make series reaches its finale in Aldershot this weekend.
The exciting climax to the Stilo Cup's inaugural year in the UK will see Welsh youngster Chris Davies head the field away from the start at Rushmoor Arena near Aldershot. He took the top spot in the series from Willie Bonniwell on the previous round in Yorkshire and although Davies finished second, his lead is now over fellow Celt Tom Metcalfe. Davies drove a sensible rally with the championship in mind and now needs another solid points finish to ensure he takes the title. He leads the junior category, but his mind will be firmly set on outright victory and with it a Punto Super 1600 drive on the British Rally Championship in 2005.
Scot Metcalfe is waiting in the wings, his over exuberance on the early rounds cost him points and his car has borne the scars of battle for most of the year His stage times are impressive but he had bad luck in Yorkshire, initially losing time with a mis-judged braking point in the unpredictable conditions. His event was further marred by the recurrence of an intermittent misfire that cost him time on the Manx. Although even a win won't guarantee that he overtakes Davies, his sights will be set on the Junior title and with it a Stilo drive in Italy.
Willie Bonniwell's season started well and with two wins to his credit, he should be challenging for the lead. His experience in Yorkshire, however, was not a good one. After contesting Rally GB two weeks earlier, his car was only fired up shortly before Rally Yorkshire and he withdrew before the start, the engine sounding very sick at scrutineering. All of his fellow competitors were united in their disappointment, none wishing such bad luck on the series leader. His battle will be a personal one, wishing to finish on a high and take the runner-up place for the accompanying Italian Stilo drive, although there is always the possibility of the title if Davies doesn't finish.
Another double winner is Shaun Woffinden who will be aiming for a hat-trick on the Tempest. His two retirements early in the year have cost him dearly but the fight-back has been relentless and his experience has paid dividends. Currently tied on points with Bonniwell, Woffinden is another in the hunt for the runner-up spot and with the car finally set up to his satisfaction, it would be foolish to rule out win number three.
Paul Tod has had a challenging season but his tenacity and enthusiasm has been refreshing. Coming from a season in a smaller one-make series, he has set competitive times and deserves some good luck to show his true potential. Another youngster from Abergavenny, Tod's two third places belie his pace and with the difficult season nearly over, he should go well on this sprint event.
Just over seventy competitive miles await the crews where they will be cheered on by some very appreciative spectators. Fiat Auto UK's headquarters are just up the road in Slough and with the Fiat Stilo Rally Cup set to confirm a programme for 2005 at the Tempest, it will be a positive event for the Italian marque.
The rally kicks off at 19:00 with three short stages in the darkness of Friday evening. The whole event centres on Rushmoor Arena to the west of Aldershot with start, finish, service area and a super special stage. Cars also visit this stage several times on Saturday after a 7am re-start with the finish at around 17:00.