UK Kumho Championship 2004 preview

KUMHO National Rally Championship - 2004 season nearly here! Entries are flooding in ahead of the opening round of the 2004 Kumho National Rally Championship, The Rallye Sunseeker in Bournemouth, with scores of drivers battling to be part of the...

KUMHO National Rally Championship - 2004 season nearly here!

Entries are flooding in ahead of the opening round of the 2004 Kumho National Rally Championship, The Rallye Sunseeker in Bournemouth, with scores of drivers battling to be part of the most competitive season ever seen in the UK's premier national rally championship.

Joining the ANCRO organised series for the first time are Peugeot Sport UK, who will run their legendary Peugeot "one make" rally series within the Kumho Championship this year, in the shape of the Peugeot 206 Super Cup. Widely regarded as one of the most successful and competitive driver proving grounds in the world, the 206's will form a major part of the Kumho championship this year - with a large amount of high profile and highly talented entering by the day.

Peugeot are not the only prominent manufacturer involved within the championship for the new season. Mitsubishi Motors UK are once again backing the hugely successful Mitsubishi Evo Challenge that runs on all rounds of the Kumho Championship. Open to all versions of Group N homologated versions of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, record numbers of entries are expected for the series this year, with a strong line-up of competitors from across the UK and Ireland.

Mitsubishi are also fielding a works entered Lancer Evolution VIII for 2003 Evo Challenge Champion Driver, Brendan Crealey, as his prize for winning last year's series and he looks to take on all comers in the ADR Motorsport tendered machine.

At the front of the field, the battle for honours looks set to be even more competitive than last season. 2003 Kumho Championship winner David Mann returns to defend his crown in a newly acquired Subaru Impreza WRC, along with front running rivals of 2003, Roger Duckworth (Subaru WRC), Steve Petch (Hyundai WRC), Martyn Harrison (Metro 6R4), and the crowd favourite Andy Burton in his unique Peugeot-Cosworth.

A number of 'new' drivers are expected to contest the series in state of the art World Rally Cars as well, including Craig Middleton, the 2003 Kumho National Junior Champion in a Hyundai Accent WRC, and Vodka Kick team mates Steve Perez and Paul Bird, who will field identical Ford Focus WRC's. Durham driver and former Scottish Rally Champion Barry Johnson is another man to watch in his Subaru Impreza WRC, along with ANCRO Championship regular Phil Morgan in a similar machine.

If competition looks intense for the World Rally Car contingent, then the battle for Production Cup honours looks even harder to win. A 'who's who' of top Group N exponents will be fighting tooth and nail for the showroom specification prize this year. The championship is dominated by Mitsubishi Lancer's, although a number of very quick drivers will field Subaru's this year, including former Evo Challenge winner Jeremy Easson, rising Welsh star Dorian Rees, and Hertfordshire's Steve Palmer - a Production Cup front runner in 2003.

The opening round takes place on February 27/28th when the crews descend on the seaside resort of Bournemouth for the South's biggest motorsport event of the year. A capacity 120 car entry will provide plenty of entertainment for the thousands of fans who attend the Rally Sunseeker each year. The rally begins on the Friday night with two spectator orientated special stages around the Lower Gardens in Bournemouth Town Centre, before a full day of gravel roads in the forests of Ringwood, Uddens, Wareham and Somerley Park on the final Saturday leg of stages.

The Kumho National Rally Championship then moves onto North Wales for the Astra Stages after the Sunseeker, where more than 70 miles of some of the most demanding North Wales forestry stages lay in wait for the Kumho regulars hoping to build on a strong opening season performance in Bournemouth.

For more details on the Rallye Sunseeker, including latest entries and spectator information, visit www.rallyesunseeker.co.uk, or for Kumho National and Clubman Championship news, log on to www.kumhorally.info, newly updated for 2004.

KUMHO National Rally Championship 2004:
Rallye Sunseeker - February 27/28th, Bournemouth.
Astra Stages - April 3rd, Llangollen.
Roush Manx Rally - May 7/8, Douglas, Isle of Man.
Mutiny National Rally - June 5th, Llandrindod Wells.
Swansea Bay Rally - July 17th, Swansea.
Park Systems Rally - September 11th, Newton Stewart.
Bulldog National Rally - October 23rd, Shrewsbury.

-knrc-

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Series Other rally
Drivers Dorian Rees , Steve Perez , Paul Bird