With the third round looming, the first two rounds of the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship have provided thrills, spills and several surprises in the drivers' Championship, with a handful of the early favourites hitting ...
With the third round looming, the first two rounds of the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship have provided thrills, spills and several surprises in the drivers' Championship, with a handful of the early favourites hitting trouble.
At the head of the field are David Higgins & Ieuan Thomas who hoped for good results in their brand new Team TQ.com Subaru at the start of the season. A steady nerve and good consistent pace has netted a pair of podium finishes, although they lost second place with car trouble on the Jim Clark. The results put them a single point ahead of the fast improving Stuart Jones & Andy Bull in their Privateers Cup-leading MG Super 2000.
Jones has returned to the BRC from the Production World Rally Championship last year and he is still getting used to the change from the conventional group N machinery to the MG. His second place on the Jim Clark bodes well for the asphalt events though, the lighter S2000 suiting sealed surfaces.
In third place in the series are Jonnys Greer and Hart whose excellent position may be a surprise to many, but certainly not to those who know them. Their pace on last year's Rally GB was and indication of thing to come from the Northern Irish duo.
After a puncture cost three places on the Pirelli, James Wozencroft wowed in his older specification Subaru, having made the step up from his usual front wheel drive machinery in recent years. He and Chris Ridge took fourth in the BRC on the Jim Clark and he sits just a point behind Greer, hoping to continue his success on the tarmac Manx lanes, where he will be a nominated driver to score points for the Revolution Wheels Rally Team.
Atlas TEG Sport's Wyn Humphreys will have a bit of local knowledge in the form of Manxman Rob Fagg to guide him over the tricky stages. The pair lie fifth, a mere point behind "Woz", but the Isle of Man was good to them in 2007, taking their first podium and moving them briefly into the lead of the BRC at their first attempt.
A shock joint sixth at this stage of the season are the two main title protagonists of 2007. It would be foolish to discount the battle towards the end of the season involving Guy Wilks/Phil Pugh and Mark Higgins/Rory Kennedy; after all they have four BRC titles between them.
But both their early season results have been hampered by car related problems; Higgins' MG S2000 engine letting go on round one, while Wilks' Mitsubishi was a total loss after a broken propshaft caused a fierce fire in the Borders event in May. The teams have a win apiece in 2008, but Higgins will want to forget crashing out on last year's Manx event, leaving Wilks to cruise to victory.
Just outside the top six but certainly worthy of note are Phillip Morrow and Rob Swann. On the first round of the season Evo Challenge winner Morrow took an excellent fourth place, but pushed a bit too hard on the Jim Clark, crashing on the first stage and subsequently retiring. Revolution Wheels Rally Team's lead driver Swann had car trouble for the Pirelli, then punctures and a crash hampered his progress in his new Impreza last time out. He was pipped for a podium by Humphreys in the Isle of Man last year so will be fired up for a fight.
Cars will be on display on Douglas promenade during Thursday early afternoon before heading off to the start from 18.30. The whole event runs over three days and is all based around the TT Grandstand in Douglas with the finish on Saturday at around 3.30pm.