The Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship celebrates its 50th year in 2008 and it promises to be a real epic, starting with the Pirelli International Rally in Carlisle. With a stable platform of six events, control Tesco 99 Octane...
The Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship celebrates its 50th year in 2008 and it promises to be a real epic, starting with the Pirelli International Rally in Carlisle.
With a stable platform of six events, control Tesco 99 Octane fuel and Pirelli tyres, the 2007 season went right down to the final leg of the final event, Rally GB. The battles throughout the classes were fiercely fought to the very end too and the new season has a highly charged and competitive feel, with forty registered drivers ready for the gravel of the Pirelli Rally.
Competitors from overseas include Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish challengers, as well as title contenders from the Republic of Ireland. Across the border a strong Northern Irish challenge adds domestic weight to the numbers from England, Scotland and Wales, making tough opposition for both overall and class honours.
The fight for overall positions is going to be hard to call, as the contenders are all of an extremely high standard. Guy Wilks will be keen to defend his first BRC title against all comers, including Scandinavian PWRC stars Juho Hanninen, Patrik Flodin and Eyvind Brynildsen, who are definite contenders for a top spot.
Wilks' team-mate Philip Morrow is also more than capable of wielding an Evo to good effect and since Mark Higgins registered using an MG S2000, the fight at the front will be unforgiving. His brother David will field a new N14 Impreza and will be keen to improve on last year's three podiums, Wyn Humphreys also returning to prove his 2007 mid-point championship lead was no fluke. Rob Swann was tantalisingly close to a podium, beaten by Humphreys by less than a second in the Isle on Man. He will be eager to maintain momentum of a career best championship fifth place in his Subaru, but the competition has stepped up a notch, so he will be up against it.
Inaugural Pirelli Star Driver Darren Gass will be a force to be reckoned with in last years championship winning Evo, but not to be overlooked is a welcome returnee to the BRC, Stuart Jones in a second MG S2000. Fellow Welshman David Meredith took tenth in Rally 4 in 2007 and he will want to build on the experience.
Former Suzuki ace James Wozencroft moves up from two to four wheel drive in a Subaru, while Irishmen Jonny Greer and Daniel Barry will both compete in Mitsubishis; the form book definitely including these two as potential front runners.
The Pirelli International threw up a surprise for triple BRC champion Mark Higgins in 2007 when Wilks tore up the rule book. But with the series attracting even more scintillating talent, those rules are there to be broken again, in what promises to be one of the British Rally Championship's vintage years.
The BRC's half century kicks off in just over a week's time in Carlisle City centre from where the cars head to the infamous Kielder forest complex. Friday evening's dark stages will help sort the pack, crews who make it through the murk emerging on Saturday for a full day's rallying. They return to Carlisle on Saturday evening for the now traditional finish ramp celebrations.