Stilos Set for Lowland Skirmish The six Fiat Stilo Rally Cup contenders will venture north of the border to Dumfries for round three of the Fiat Stilo Rally Cup. The forests of Dumfries & Galloway make up around a quarter of this beautiful area,...
Stilos Set for Lowland Skirmish
The six Fiat Stilo Rally Cup contenders will venture north of the border to Dumfries for round three of the Fiat Stilo Rally Cup. The forests of Dumfries & Galloway make up around a quarter of this beautiful area, but contenders for the 2004 crown will not have much chance to admire the scenery on this 85 -mile all- gravel event.
The 187bhp Group A cars will contest the third round of Britain's premier rally championship, vying for a lucrative prize drive in a Fiat Punto Super 1600 car in 2005. Until the first round in Gateshead, only two Stilos had competed in the UK, but the 2004 Fiat Stilo Rally Cup has attracted high quality entries and is based on the successful Italian Stilo Trofeo which has been running since 2002.
Scots Willie Bonniwell and co-driver Ian Fraser took the first win and have already competed in Scotland this year. They will be trying to uphold National honours, and although from Oban and Tobermory respectively, they should have strong local support. They took second place in Wales and share the head of the championship points table with round two winners Chris Davies and Nathan Parry.
Both the latter live in Abergavenny, and the pair took second on the loose on round one, taking the fight to the Scots on their home turf in Dolgellau. The tables will be turned here in Dumfries, and Davies will have to hope for more good luck as his lead was nearly taken on the final stage. His cooling fan stopped working and the pair finished the stage with the heater on full in an attempt to keep the engine cool.
The only English crew in the Stilo Cup is Shaun Woffinden and Howard Pridmore, also sharing points with a Welsh pairing. They will be 'on a mission' in Scotland, having led briefly in Wales, before being denied a finish when a tricky left hander caught them out. The car clipped an outcrop which pulled the driveshaft out, and despite limping home, their rally was over.
Equal with the Englishman is Davies' fellow countryman Paul Tod who continues with Iestyn ap Dafydd alongside. The Welsh duo will come to Scotland having tested extensively. Although they were third in front of their home crowd, Davies is convinced that there is much more to come, and both car and driver will have any imperfections ironed out by June.
Flying the flag for Dumfries will be local mechanic Tom Metcalfe. He will be reunited with his former co-driver Kirsty Riddick, after gaining some BRC experience with Roger Herron on the first two rallies. With the whole event on his doorstep, the youngster will be trying hard, but he will be keeping an eye on the championship, having crashed out of round two.
Adding some Mediterranean sunshine to the event will be Catalan driver Joan Roca and fellow Spanish co-driver Jordi Barrabes. They competed here in 2003 and their luck must improve after the first two rallies were plagued with gear selector problems. Roca retired whilst in the lead on round one, so he will definitely be one to watch.
The rally uses a similar format to the series opener, with an evening start from the host town. Dumfries High Street will see the ceremonial start at 19:30 on Friday evening, the cars heading into nearby Ae forest for the first test. A spectator -friendly stage at Heathhall to the North of the town will allow spectators to watch the action from the adjacent service area at around 21:00.
The bulk of the mileage is on Saturday, with a re-start at 07:00 and cars returning to the ceremonial finish in Dumfries at around 18:30. The Scottish Rally traditionally favours the brave and with two local crews competing, the St Andrews flags will be waving with pride.
The Fiat Stilo Rally Cup acknowledges support from Fiat Auto (UK), Hi-Tec, Toora Competizione, PIAA, Bardahl, Pirelli and media partner Motorsport News.