UK: Rallye Sunseeker preview

KUMHO National Rally Championship 2004: Rallye Sunseeker Quality field to kick off new season for KUMHO series. 120 drivers will begin the 2004 KUMHO National Rally Championship opener, the Rallye Sunseeker, on February 27/28th. The Bournemouth...

KUMHO National Rally Championship 2004: Rallye Sunseeker
Quality field to kick off new season for KUMHO series.

120 drivers will begin the 2004 KUMHO National Rally Championship opener, the Rallye Sunseeker, on February 27/28th. The Bournemouth based event has attracted one of the strongest ever entries for the ANCRO organised championship round, with a host of top class World Rally Car and Group N machinery starting the rally -- not to mention the hard charging Peugeot 206 Super Cup drivers.

2003 Champion and KUMHO Tyres backed driver David Mann will be returning to defend his title, armed with a new Subaru Impreza WRC99. Mann will have a considerable fight on his hands this year. Andy Burton will be a significant threat to Mann, along with 2003 pace setter Roger Duckworth. Former ANCRO National Champion Marcus Dodd also makes a welcome return to the championship in a hired Toyota Corolla WRC.

The incredibly strong top twenty also boasts a number of series regulars, including Hyundai WRC man Steve Petch, Subaru driver Bob Ceen, along with MG Metro 6R4 man Martyn Harrison, all serious contenders for a high points scoring finish on the event.

Other drivers likely to feature strongly include the former Scottish Rally Champion Barry Johnson, who will be a major contender for a podium spot in his Subaru Impreza WRC, along with Ford Focus WRC drivers Steve Perez and Paul Bird, who are both contesting the championship for the first time this season. Steve Hendy, Phil Morgan and Steve Fleck all have experience of the most Southern event in the KUMHO Championship calendar and will be pushing hard for a good finish.

If the vast array of exotic World Rally Car machinery is not enough, then the battle for Group N and Production Cup honours should be a battle to savour on the South Coast. Two main protagonists will be the Mitsubishi Motors UK works entered car for Mitsubishi Evolution Challenge winner Brendan Crealey. The Ulsterman will be equally keen to fight for overall honours after a string of superb drives last year. Prodrive and Subaru are also joining the series for 2004, with well known test driver and preparation expert Geoff Jones at the wheel of their latest 'N10' Impreza Group N car for the year. The Welshman will be developing the new machine throughout the season and will be a driver to watch along with Crealey.

A host of well known drivers will be doing battle for the 2004 Mitsubishi Evo Challenge honours. Ex-works Peugeot Sport drivers Rory Galligan and Martin Sansom have both entered Lancer Evo VII's for the season, and the pair will face the stiffest of opposition. Irish Group N Champion Roy White is another rapid driver to be joining the championship this year, whilst Jeremy Easson makes a welcome return to the KUMHO series after a season out. The Midlander brings a new Subaru to the series this year, whilst 2003 Group N front runner Paul Wedgebury has opted to switch the other way, as he will drive a Mitsubishi this year. Such is the high quality of the Group N field, its nearly impossible to list all the drivers who will feature on the leaderboard.

As the four wheel drive boys go for it at the front of the field, the Peugeot 206 Super Cup drivers will provide the front wheel drive spectacle in the KUMHO Championship this year. World renowned for their tenacity, speed and 100% commitment, the Peugeot Sport UK backed series is a most welcome addition to the championship this year. Geordie fireman Chris Moore starts the year as favourite, although Moore has not contested many ANCRO rounds before. 2003 KUMHO Clubman Rally Champion Ieuan Rowlands is seen by many as a driver to watch this year. Having completely dominated the Peugeot 206 Winter Cup, Rowlands will be a hard man to beat this season -- particularly on the events he knows well. British Touring Car driver Tom Boardman has also produced some impressive performances of late as he builds up for his first season of rallying.

Irishman Gareth McHale is another driver tipped for success, and the reliable Scot Mike Faulkner cannot be discounted either. Welshman Stuart Jones will be another 206 regular looking for victories in the superb series, along with newcomer Alistair Moffatt who also cannot be discounted for podium success, as brother John Moffatt aims for similar joy in the Evo Challenge.

With 2003 Junior Champion Craig Middleton also coming back with a Hyundai Accent WRC for this season, it could well be one of the closest and most fascinating championship battles in the history of the KUMHO National Rally Championship. Follow all the latest news and results on www.rallyesunseeker.co.uk or www.kumhorally.info, which now includes an event preview, entry list and full spectator information.

Championship website -- www.kumhorally.info

-knrc-

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Tom Boardman , Steve Fleck , Gareth McHale , Marcus Dodd , Paul Bird