Duckworth looking to sail away on the Mutiny. Northamptonshire driver Roger Duckworth will look to make it his second straight win on the Mutiny Rally this weekend, as the Subaru Impreza WRC driver tries to increase his championship lead over...
Duckworth looking to sail away on the Mutiny.
Northamptonshire driver Roger Duckworth will look to make it his second straight win on the Mutiny Rally this weekend, as the Subaru Impreza WRC driver tries to increase his championship lead over the consistent Ford Focus WRC of series newcomer Steve Perez.
After strong performances during the mid point of the 2003 season, Duckworth heads to the Llandrindod Wells based event confident of adding more point to the tally after an impressive start to this years Kumho National Rally Championship. Three straight wins at the mid point last year mean that Roger and co-driver Mark Broomfield will provide tough opposition at the weekend.
If Perez has been the model of consistent if not spectacular results, Andrew Burton is likely to be the hare of the pack in the wide and flowing Mid Wales forestry stages. The Herefordshire man brings his raucous Peugeot-Cosworth hybrid to the event looking to gain maximum points and take yet another win in the Welsh forests. Dust may well hamper Burton as he will be running second on the road behind Duckworth.
A driver to watch on home soil will be one of the stars of the 2004 series. 24 year old Craig Middleton, a Llandrindod Wells resident, will be keen to impress in his ex-factory Hyundai Accent WRC. Craig, the son of former National Champion Graham Middleton, came within 0.6 of a second of winning the Rallye Sunseeker, and backed up that result with a superb 5th overall on the recent Roush Manx Rally. The Matador driver will certainly be a driver that others keep an eye on when the stage times come in.
Series newcomer Paul Bird is another World Rally Car driver to watch at the weekend. The talented Penrith driver, owner of the MonsterMob Ducati Superbike Team, has enjoyed mixed fortune this year in his Ford Focus. Bird was in fine form on the recent Roush Rally, as he notched up a superb podium result with Andrew Bargery alongside on the all tarmac event.
Those not fairing so well on the event included Hyundai driver Steve Petch, who suffered transmission problems, and David Mann, the reigning Kumho Champion, who ended his rally upside down in a field. Kumho Championship stalwart Martyn Harrison also failed to finish on the Island, leaving the race for Championship honours wide open this year.
Whilst it may be impossible to pick a winner from the host of World Rally Cars on display, including the likes of multiple ANCRO National Rally Champion Marcus Dodd, the battle for Group N honours is likely to be just as fierce this weekend. The honours were taken by Geoff Jones/Rhydian Welson on the Manx lanes, but sadly for the spectators and other competitors, Jones was involved in a road accident on the recent Rally of Wales, and is unlikely to contest the rally as he recuperates at home.
Jones's absence means that the battle for Group N spoils is nearly certain to involve the works Mitsubishi UK backed car of Brendan Crealey, and the leading front runners in the 2004 Mitsubishi Evo Challenge. The battle looks well and truly on between the rapid ex-Peugeot men Paul Wedgebury and Martin Sansom. Another driver to keep an eye out for on the fast stages is the reigning Irish Tarmac Group N Champion Roy White, who took a well earned win on the Manx recently. White admits to not being the fastest on gravel at the moment, but the Clonmel man improves on every rally and will be a tough competitor this weekend.
Away from the turbo and four wheel drive battle is the no less combative Peugeot TOTAL 206 Super Cup, running as a key part of the Kumho National Rally Championship this year. Leading the field at the moment are two excellent young Welsh drivers -- Ieuan Rowlands and Stuart Jones. Rowlands, last years Kumho Clubman Champion, has taken to the Peugeot like a duck to water, and has yet to finish outside of the podium this year. Jones on the other hand has been up and down -- leading on the Manx until driveshaft failure, and also setting fastest times on the Astra Stages. Whilst the Welshmen may be difficult to beat on home soil, the hard charging Gareth McHale, son of ITC legend Austin, will certainly be looking to pick up the pieces should anything happen to the front two. McHale no doubt boosted by the absence of Chris Moore from the rally, who will not start the event.
All the news and results can be found on the official event website at www.mutinyrally.com, or visit the official Kumho National Championship website at www.kumhorally.info