The fourth event in the MSA Dulux Trade British Rally Championship's support series, the BRC Challenge, serves up the first double header of the year on the extremely fast Rally Isle of Man stages this weekend. Competitors will score...
The fourth event in the MSA Dulux Trade British Rally Championship's support series, the BRC Challenge, serves up the first double header of the year on the extremely fast Rally Isle of Man stages this weekend.
Competitors will score championship points on each of the two days of competition on some of the fastest road stages in the rallying world just four weeks after the TT. And with a choice of Isle of Man or Ulster for the BRC Challenge drivers, there is the chance to make a real mark on the series standings.
Championship leader Callum Black has nominated the Isle of Man and will hope to utilise the event to add to his recent lead over rival Julian Wilkes. Winner of the opening two rounds, Wilkes suffered a clutch problem on one of the road sections at the Jim Clark Rally and failed to score any points, opening the door to Black.
Wilkes and co-driver Will Rutherford will not compete in the Isle of Man Rally instead choosing to nominate the second double header event in Ulster.
But Black and Paul Wakely will not have it all their own way, with Jim Clark Rally winners and asphalt specialist Richard Archer and Tom Ward also competing again. Burton Pidsea's Chris Peart will hope for better luck on the island after failing to reach the start of the last round. The super consistent Yorkshireman was let down with mechanical issues prior to the start of the Scottish stages, but if his "tarmac special" S1600 car is ready then we could see a spectacular battle ensuing in middle of the Irish Sea.
UK Fiesta SportChallenge championship leader and third placed overall Jonathan Cunningham will be looking to continue his strong start to the season. The 26 year old has impressed on both gravel and tarmac this year with class wins on both surfaces. But the Ford driver will be pursued by his fellow RC3 competitors John Pritchard and Richard Parry-Jones.
Formerly known as the Manx Rally, the event has been one of the stalwarts of British rallying over the years and has held an allure to domestic and international competitors alike.
With the rally start and finish taking place in front of the famous TT Grandstand, and stages throughout the island, the Isle of Man Challenge Rallies offer a spectacular backdrop for one of British motorsports most enduring sporting occasions.
BRC Challenge competitors will have to treat the event with some care though, as the double header format means if the cars are unable to be repaired after Friday's stages, they will lose out on a full set of points on Saturday. One crew who know this better than anyone is that of Archer and Ward, transmission trouble forcing them out on Friday, missing Saturday despite a heroic effort to ship spares overnight.
With the top four in the championship covered by just 18 points and double scores on offer, the race to be crowned 2010 BRC Challenge champion is still wide open.
Credit: Stu Coady
UK Journalism -- University of Central Lancashire