Event: Rallye Sunseeker:
The 2011 Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship is just four days away and its brand new opening round Rallye Sunseeker International is on course to make a seamless move to the British Isles' premier rally series.
The organisers are confident that everything is in place for a cracking counter; Friday evening's ceremonial start followed by eleven tricky stages adjacent to the south of England's New Forest. Thousands of spectators flocked to Poole in 2010 and the Somerley Park stage and Rally Fair will be an excellent centrepiece for those wishing to get close to the action in stunning parkland scenery.
Now entering its 53rd year the BRC has seen many changes; from its roots in the 1950s when the British title was so new, some competitors didn't even realise it existed, through the days of Triumphs and Austins, Escorts and Opels, four wheel drive, Formula 2, WRC cars to the recent production based machinery, it has always been the place to highlight talent in whatever machinery was available.
So as 2011 gets under way the focus is shifting again, but the battles throughout the field will be no less fierce, the crews no less committed and the outcome no more predictable. The only thing that is almost certain for 2011 is that it will be a new name on the BRC trophy, as the only former champion registered this year is Gwyndaf Evans -- and he will definitely miss the first round.
Right at the front of the field on this well organised, well promoted rally are the front wheel drive cars represented by Ford, Renault, Citro0x00ebn and Suzuki. But now the likely event victor will run in the second half of the pack, four wheel drive machinery letting the high revving front runners stir spectators ahead of the arrival of Mitsubishi, Subaru and for the first time Skoda.
Dulux Trade MSA British Formula 2 Rally Championship
Returning after an eleven year absence is the Formula 2 title, although replacing the two litre kit cars of the nineties are 1600cc pocket rockets. No less spectacular and still sounding fantastic, Fiestas, Twingos, C2s and Swifts will roar through the forests, breathing life back into this much missed British title.
Dulux Trade MSA British Teams Rally Championship
The Teams battle will also change this year, two wheel drive machinery vying to secure one of only three truly British titles. Reigning Teams title holders JRM will field two Mitsubishis, but can't retain their championship crown, since the four wheel drive cars are ineligible for points. So it falls to the M-Sport Ford Rally Team, Autosport Technology, Citro0x00ebn Racing UK and 586 Sports to fight for the right to attend the Royal Automobile Club's Pall Mall headquarters to collect the award.
DTBRC Pirelli Star Driver
The richest prize in UK rallying, the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship's Pirelli Star Driver scheme enters its fifth year with 2010 winner Elfyn Evans at the wheel of a TEG Sport run Subaru Impreza.
He and co-driver Andrew Edwards have strict instructions to use the prize wisely, gaining experience as the season progresses with no pressure to emulate 2009 winner Keith Cronin. His successful championship title defence at the wheel of his prize drive car must, however encourage Evans, the reigning BRC Junior champion.
Nine drivers will be selected to go head-to-head for the prize this year, one from each of the events from the two wheel drive crews and one each who excel on gravel and asphalt at the helm of four wheel drive cars.
One make series
Again it is front wheel drive that provides the entertainment in the one make series. The Fiesta SportTrophy returns in 2011 along with the Citro0x00ebn Racing Trophy, both championships offering close competition in cars in the Rally 2 class of the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship.
Rallye Sunseeker International
Rallye Sunseeker International gets underway on Poole Quay from 18:30 on Friday 25th February where all the crews and cars will be on hand for an hour for photographs, autographs and interviews.
The main event starts from the Elliothire Canford Arena Service Park on Saturday at 09:00, returning twice during the day for repairs and refuelling before heading to the finish at Bournemouth Pier from 17:10.
Gentlemen (and ladies), start your engines!