Simpson joins Volkswagen's rally squad Lancashire ace Neil Simpson is to be the Volkswagen team's 'third man' on next month's Manx International Rally, climax of the Mobil 1 British Rally Championship. Colne-based Simpson will pilot the full...
Simpson joins Volkswagen's rally squad
Lancashire ace Neil Simpson is to be the Volkswagen team's 'third man' on next month's Manx International Rally, climax of the Mobil 1 British Rally Championship.
Colne-based Simpson will pilot the full works-specification Golf GTI 16V previously driven by Jorgen Jonasson and Liam O'Callaghan, and is tasked with supporting Alister McRae and Tapio Laukkanen in their bid to clinch championship victory for the Sony, Revolution Wheels and Pirelli-backed Volkswagen team.
Neil, 25, will be partnered by his regular co-driver Steven Martin. "I'm absolutely delighted to be joining the Volkswagen team," says Simpson, "particularly for the Manx, which is my favourite event." Last year he was robbed of third place overall on the Isle of Man when the engine of his Ford Escort blew up with a handful of stages to run.
Steve Bagnall of Volkswagen's UK rally partner team, SBG Sport, welcomed Simpson to the team: "Neil deserves the opportunity to prove himself with a competitive car, and we're very happy to be the team providing it. Liam O'Callaghan had been due to drive for us on the Manx, but after the disappointments he suffered in Ulster he has decided not to go ahead, a decision we respect."
After a season on the sidelines due to the collapse of a sponsorship deal, Simpson is raring to go: "I'm going to feel a bit rusty at first but once I get into the swing of things I'm sure I'm going to go well."
With McRae defending a two-point championship advantage over reigning title holder Gwyndaf Evans, and Volkswagen seeking to add to its tally of four UK and international rally wins already this year, Simpson will have a vital role to play on the Manx, which starts from Douglas on September 11.
Neil Simpson began rallying in 1989, two weeks after passing his driving test on his 17th birthday. Strong performances in the Peugeot Challenge earned him a Shell Scholarship drive in a Nissan in the 1995 British Championship. Last year with Ford he claimed third place among the championship contenders on the Pirelli International and second in Ulster.
-- Nick Carter +44 (0)1530 811882 www.maxcom.demon.co.uk/vwrally.htm