Vauxhall Astra Stages Rally preview

The quaint North Wales musical town of Llangollen will bounce to a different beat on April 12th, when 180 rally teams arrive from all corners of the UK - and Sweden - to contest the Vauxhall Astra Stages Rally. The Astra Stages is a round of the...

The quaint North Wales musical town of Llangollen will bounce to a different beat on April 12th, when 180 rally teams arrive from all corners of the UK - and Sweden - to contest the Vauxhall Astra Stages Rally.

The Astra Stages is a round of the Kumho National and Clubmans Rally Championships, the Armajaro British Historic Rally Championship, The Competition Car Insurance Welsh National Championship, the Millers Oils Welsh Clubmans Championship and the ANWCC Forest Rally and Historic Rally Championships.

The combination of some of the UK's most popular rally championships and some of the best forest stages has given an entry of unprecedented quality this year. Leading the field away from the Royal Pavilion in Llangollen will be the Historic contingent, led by Steve Perez/Jonty Bolsover in their Porsche 911S. Perez will be followed by Dessie Nutt in his similar car, whilst Nils Bergquist/Karl Erik make the long journey from Sweden to contest the event in their Volvo PV, along with over 50 other historic cars and teams.

As the second round of the Kumho National Rally Championship, the event also plays host to 78 of the UK's top national rally drivers. Round One winner Marcus Dodd (Subaru Impreza WRC) will be looking to stamp his authority on the championship with another maximum points haul, whilst Andy Burton/John H Roberts will be equally keen to prevent Dodd from getting ahead in their unique Peugeot-Cosworth hybrid.

A whole host of Subaru mounted drivers will be looking to challenge the top two for the overall win. David Mann, Raymond Munro, Roger Duckworth, Charlie Jukes and Charlie Payne are all more than capable behind the wheel and cannot be discounted for the win if the lead duo slip up. Hyundai Accent WRC duo Steve Petch and Paul Bird will also be looking to continue their run of good form in their respective Korean machines. Both drivers won events outright as part of their pre season championship preparations.

A star attraction in the quality field is former British Rally Champion Mark Higgins in a Renault Clio S1600 car. Higgins will use the Astra Stages as a shakedown for the French pocket rocket after taking delivery of the car recently. Despite a vast array of 4wd machinery around him, Higgins will surely be a driver to watch as the stage times come in!

Two drivers who had disappointing outings on the opening round of the series, the Rallye Sunseeker, will be keen to prove a point in North Wales. Top Irish driver Rob Woodside brings his Kumho backed Toyota Corolla WRC to the event after a spectacular brakeless accident on the southern stages. Woodside won a round of the Kumho National Championship in 2002.

Production Cup front-runner Richard Davis will also be getting amongst the leading pack on home soil. Davies was forced to retire in Bournemouth, but not before he'd set some scintillating times in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo6. Davies will be chased hard by Production Cup leader Paul Alexander, who will no doubt have a fight on his hands with the likes of Nik Elsmore, Brendan Crealey, and Nigel Griffiths all eager to claim the top spot by Saturday evening. In the classes, the works Skoda Fabia 1400 entry of Iain Freestone/Nick Kennedy are hoping for a good run after electrical gremlins in Bournemouth. Top Junior and Formula 2 driver Craig Middleton has a new co-driver in the shape of Shelley Rogerson for the event, whilst Class N3 regulars Dave/Pamela Hull are also looking for a change in fortune after a gearbox and suspension rebuild in their Astra GSi.

All the action begins at 8am on Saturday 12th April at the Royal Pavilion in Llangollen.

Don't miss it!

-kncrc-

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Mark Higgins , Marcus Dodd , Steve Perez , Paul Bird