MSA British Rally Championship front runners After a highly successful and competitive 50th year, the MSA British Championship approaches the first round of 2009, the Bulldog International Rally of North Wales, with one of the most ...
MSA British Rally Championship front runners
After a highly successful and competitive 50th year, the MSA British Championship approaches the first round of 2009, the Bulldog International Rally of North Wales, with one of the most competitive line-ups for many years.
Returning with a wealth of BRC experience is triple Champion Mark Higgins, who reunites with another triple BRC champion Bryan Thomas, pulling together a deal to drive in his Impreza N11 again. The pair last won the championship together in 2005 in a Focus, Mark last taking the title in 2006, but he has been pipped by Guy Wilks for the last two years and will want to add a fourth title to his and Bryan's tally.
Heading a trio of quick Irishman out in Mitsubishis are Keith Cronin and Greg Shinnors who were stunningly quick in Yorkshire last year, now planning a full attack on the BRC. Cronin's experience includes taking the coveted Irish Billy Coleman award, also pitting his skills against Adam Gould in the International Pirelli Star Driver final last year.
Stuart Jones swaps from the S2000 MG, in which he took second on last year's Jim Clark rally, to a more familiar Mitsubishi. Still only 24, he and now regular co-driver Andy Bull have plenty of experience, Jones having partnered BRC Champ Gwyndaf Evans in 2006 and contested PWRC events in 2007.
David Bogie and Kevin Rae is the first of two BRC prize drivers, their victory on the Mitsubishi Evo Challenge netted them a full season in an Evo IX. They will debut the brand new car on Rally North Wales, hoping to impress in a relatively unknown machine.
The second of the prize winners took victory in the BRC's own Pirelli Star Driver competition, the concept offering up Adam Gould as the second winner of the championship's coveted and innovative prize. He and Seb Marshall will crew a Pirelli funded Subaru Impreza N14, making the step up from his 2008 Clio.
Plenty of talent from overseas drivers is also guaranteed; the Swedish Junior Champion Andreas Sjolander Hakan Jakobsson also change steeds from Fiesta to Evo, taking the plunge for an all out assault in the BRC this year. Their experience on selected rounds in the past two years should stand the amiable pair in good stead.
Rob Swann and Darren Garrod will take to the stages their N14 Impreza again, having struggled to make the transition from an earlier model last year. Their stage times in 2007 were right up there though, meaning a year of development of the car should see them on form in 2009.
Dave Weston jnr will be partnered by fellow Scot Neil Shanks, who has spent the last few years in the BRC. Weston is one of several British Rally Academy and Elite members contesting the BRC and his experience on gravel will serve him well in the Welsh forests.
2008 BRC Privateers Cup winner Jonny Greer returns, with experience in the BRC back to 2007's final round Rally GB. He will have a new co-driver alongside though, Anthony O'Conaill joining the BRC for the first time.
Alastair Fisher moves from his regular Fiesta to an Evo 9; an unknown quantity in the four wheel drive car, he took the 2007 Irish FST Championship and added his name to the list of Rally Elite members this year. He is partnered by someone with huge experience and three BRC title to his name, Rory Kennedy hoping to guide the youngster to the overall podium.
Young Scot Euan Thorburn will take the wheel of another Impreza N14 with the hugely experienced Claire Mole alongside. Thorburn has been a front runner in the Scottish Rally Championship and is a member of the British Rally Academy.
Rounding off the four wheel drive runners is a regular of regional and National Championships Chris Firth. He takes the step up to the BRC in his Impreza, hoping to finish each of the rounds to gain experience with Martyn Taylor alongside.
The Bulldog International Rally of North Wales gets underway on Saturday 28th March and is based beside the beautiful Lake Bala. Crews will tackle 82 stages miles in some of the most iconic forests in Europe; names like Big Ray (Dyfi Main), Dyfnant and Gartheiniog should add to the excitement of an already mouth watering first round of the BRC.