Isle of Man round two preview

Three legs of Rally Isle of Man Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship Round 2 International Rally Isle of Man The Isle of Man asphalt beckons again, as four wheels take over from the madness of two on round three of the Tesco 99...

Three legs of Rally Isle of Man

Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship Round 2 International Rally Isle of Man

The Isle of Man asphalt beckons again, as four wheels take over from the madness of two on round three of the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship, Rally Isle of Man. The event fits neatly in the middle of a trio of sealed surface rallies in the UK's premier rally championship, with May's Jim Clark International a distant memory and 160 miles of rallying to go before Ulster.

The BRC is a hotly contested as it has ever been and although the Rally 4 leader board may be Stobart Teg Sport Subaru heavy, you can be sure that the Mitsubishi Motors UK challenge hasn't gone away. Runaway first round winner Guy Wilks had an eventful Jim Clark, throwing his Evo through a hedge in a downpour, while team mate Gwyndaf Evans has yet to finish under his own steam, with transmission woes on both events.

Rally 4

Championship leader Mark Higgins has struggled to match the outright pace of Wilks' Mitsubishi, but he is not triple British Rally Champion for nothing. He set a fastest time overall on the Jim Clark in the wet, even against the might of the Irish Tarmac World Rally Car brigade and it would be a foolish gambler who bet against him on Manx home ground. He is ably supported by new Subaru team mate Wyn Humphries who admits his tarmac experience is slightly lacking, although he cannot be far away from a podium finish, opening his BRC account with two solid fourth places. He holds second in the championship table ahead of Wilks who has 21 points. Just one point adrift is David Higgins in his brand new Toyota S2000 which took an astonishing second place in Kelso; Astonishing because on the opening round in April, the car was still being finished as the rally began. The TQ RED team overcame parts supply problems to get the car round the Pirelli, justly rewarded with a second round podium finish and promising much more to come. The battle further down the order is a fierce one, Evans, Meredith, Swann, Kenny and Simmons, the later three from the Geoff Jones stable have been nibbling away at the top 5 and will be looking to make their mark on the leading pack in this classic rally.

Rally 3

Stefan Davis has struggled all year to fund his self prepared Puma but he leads R3 and his Ford sports a striking new paint scheme for Rally Isle of Man. He has vowed to maintain the charge but this may be the last time he appears on the BRC if he cannot find extra support. The youngest competitor in the 2007 Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship, he ditched his S1600 Fiesta for a Citroen C2 and not only blitzed the Rally 3 opposition, but took fifth place in the BRC to move into fifth in the overall standings and lead the Junior category. Rally 3 will see the return of young Zimbabwean Conrad Rautenbach who missed the Jim Clark due to African Rally Championship commitments but returns in his JWRC Citroen C2 to battle with Gass and Davis.

Rally 1&2

Leading Rally 2, sixth in the overall classification and the only female driver in the BRC is Lorna Smith. Her Suzuki Team GB Swift is mechanically understated but visually extreme, the bright yellow car giving away power to its more highly modified Citroen opposition. Despite the class points parity between her and Matt Beebe's MG ZR, Lorna is ahead by virtue of her first round win. Jason Pritchard's C2 is equal sixth in the overall points but again, Lorna is ahead on tie break. Fin Vesa Mikkola is joined by fellow Scandinavian Andreas Sjolander who flies the flag for Sweden in his Fiesta. Rally Isle of man will be the last outing for brothers Steve and Tony Graham in their MG ZR as they have purchased an AstraD to contest the Diesel Rally Cup.

Guy Wilks impressed the judges on the first round while C2R2 driver George Thomas went forward as the second finalist for the end of season "Pirelli Star Driver" shootout. The judges are Sky TV's Robbie Head who presents the BRC coverage alongside Mike Brewer. He is joined by Isle of Man based Greenlight Television's Rob Hurdman and former BRC champion co-driver Bryan Thomas will be on hand again in Douglas providing the evaluation and nominating the second candidate based on stage time performance in class and their own subjective assessment.

Stobart Teg Sport lead the Teams Championship after a one-two on the Jim Clark, but Mitsubishi Motors UK and Team TQ RED are tied for second place, albeit 13 points adrift. 2006 Champions Dealer Team Suzuki trail in 4th but the 1600cc two wheel drive Swifts which were always going to struggle for outright pace against the two litre 4 wheel drive machinery have a good history of reliability and shouldn't be written off just yet with 5 point scoring opportunities still to go.

Darren Gass is fulfilling his role as the most junior Junior with a two point lead over Jason Pritchard in a C2R2 Cup car. Matt Beebe is two points further back and comes to the Isle of Man after an excellent 6th place overall on his local event, the Rally of the Midlands. Just a single point further back is Finland's Vesa Mikkola who admits that his asphalt experience is lacking, but he up for the challenge nevertheless. The action is sure to hot up on the Isle of Man with the return of Conrad Rautenbach in his JWRC spec Citroen C2 S1600 and young hotshot Swede Andreas Sjolander who set a storming pace on the opening round back in April.

The Diesel Cup continues on the Manx lanes with Fin McCaul's BMW 120D leading Simon Hughes' AstraD. Fin is joined by Motorsport News journalist Sean Moriarty whose penchant for all things Karting may help on the island tarmac. Irish Skoda Fabia TDi driver John Mulholland has not registered but will keep McCaul and his new co-pilot honest on the three day event.

The Citroen C2R2 Cup battle has two winners from the first two rounds. Jason Pritchard leads by virtue of winning on the Pirelli and finishing both rounds. George Thomas retired on the opener but won round two, so will use this as one of his dropped scores at the end of the season. Jamie Hickman is a clear third but fourth is shared by series newcomer Martin Roberts. Matt Beebe who currently shares fourth spot has now changed cars so won't score again, leaving the way clear for Roberts, Laverty and Japanese driver Kat Kusama to battle it out for honours.


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About this article
Series BRC
Drivers Jim Clark , Mark Higgins , Guy Wilks , David Higgins , Gwyndaf Evans , Conrad Rautenbach , Lorna Smith , Simon Hughes
Teams Citroën World Rally Team