206 Cup seeks sun and glory in Bournemouth. Friday 20th February 2004 -- In 2004 Peugeot Sport UK will have been providing the training ground for British and World Rally Champions for sixteen years. The latest incarnation of the successful one...
206 Cup seeks sun and glory in Bournemouth.
Friday 20th February 2004 -- In 2004 Peugeot Sport UK will have been providing the training ground for British and World Rally Champions for sixteen years. The latest incarnation of the successful one make Championship is the Peugeot TOTAL 206 Super Cup, now in its third year.
This year sees a new batch of young lions competing for yet another coveted prize. A factory built Group N Peugeot 206 GTi 180 plus 10,000 towards running costs will go to the winner at the end of the season. Over 13,000 in cash prizes will be split between the three runners-up and the top four co-drivers, making the Championship awards the richest in one make rallying.
A total of over 100,000 in prize funds is available with 2000 prize money paid to the winner of each of the eight rallies. Prize money down to 10th place will make the battles fierce all the way through the field, with a further press related incentive of 100 per event available to all.
32 competitors scored points in 2003 and with new cars still being sold in 2004, the potential for close competition has never been so great. Following the Kumho National Championship, all but two rallies are gravel, with classic forest stages across the country boosted by the Manx National and Mewla rallies. These two provide stern asphalt stages to further test the crews mettle.
In an attempt to keep competitors costs down, the car technical specifications remain virtually unchanged from 2003, the only significant change being new tyre supplier and series sponsor Kumho.
The 150bhp 1600cc 206s are no stranger to Rallye Sunseeker, the event counting as the final round of the innovative 206 Winter Cup last year. With the switch to the Kumho National Rally Championship, the Peugeot protagonists will be battling for honours in Bournemouth with Rallye Sunseeker as the first round of the Peugeot TOTAL 206 Super Cup.
Chris Moore makes a welcome return to the championship; the cash strapped Geordie borrowing a car from former rival Jack Ingleby to compete. Joining him at the head of the pack is new boy Ieuan Rowlands who comes fresh from his hat-trick of 206 Winter Cup wins and will try his skills against some experienced Peugeot campaigners.
Next is long time Peugeot one make supporter and last years Scottish Rally winner Mike Faulkner; his involvement was only decided after the championship moved to the Kumho National series. He is followed by another relative newcomer to the 206; Alistair Moffat is more used to his ex-Super 106 Cup car and won the 1600 category on the BTRDA series in 2003.
Young Irish challenger Gareth MacHale has had just a couple of years to hone his rallying skills but finished the 2003 season in style, winning the Late Challenge Cup. Next up is Clive Wheeler who has excelled in the Volkswagen one make championship, taking back to back victories in 2002 and 2003. He is no stranger to the 206 though, having dipped his toe in the water with an outing in the 2002 206 Winter Cup.
Stuart Jones is another returning to the fold; having won the 2003 Harry Flatters Rally and challenged for the lead several times in 2003, he will be amongst the favourites. The Welsh youngster has one more ace up his sleeve, having taken the inaugural 206 Winter Cup crown with a win on Rallye Sunseeker in 2003.
Stephen Petch moves up to the Peugeot marque after cutting his teeth in a Ka, finishing second Junior driver in the 2003 championship. With the top ten rounded off by Andrew Pawley, another with 206 and four wheel drive experience, the quality of competitors is excellent, and it doesnt stop at just ten.
Running eleventh on the road in Bournemouth is former BTCC privateer Tom Boardman. He will be competing on his first National A status event after a gruelling few weeks contesting back-to back rallies to allow his licence upgrade.
Local businessman Trevor Martin has plenty of experience in an array of rally cars, but he keeps coming back with his Peugeot, citing the friendliness of the championship as his reason. Another from the south of England is Kent based Paul Jones who finished a fine second in the 2003/4 206 Winter Cup, bouncing back from a hefty accident in August.
The Irish are well represented again and although the ever cheerful Michael OBrien lives in Hertfordshire, his roots are in Cork. Colin Britton is from County Strabane, north of the border, and his class win in the Northern Irish championship in a Micra should stand him in good stead.
Simon Taft joins the challenge following just a year at the wheel of a Peugeot 205 where he finished second novice despite his inexperience. Jon Tucker famously lent his car to Chris Moore last year but is back at the controls himself and keen to do well.
Scottish Championship regular James Robertson will make the long trip from Dumfries while Jonathan Sparks has an easy trip, hopping across the border from Somerset to compete on what could easily be considered his home event. Another youngster takes the final 206 Super Cup position, with Mike Harris Jnr taking number 106 in his newly acquired 206.
BBC Southampton presenter Roger Johnson and newsreader Lucy Jackson will drive Peugeots own celebrity 206 Super Cup car on the event. They successfully tested the car at Silverstone in late January, and are familiar with the stages, having competed on their local rally before. The factory run Peugeot is exactly the same specification as the rest of the Cup cars so the pair will be able to accurately judge their pace on the 70 mile event.
Championship co-ordinator Stella Boyles agrees the rally is ideal. Peugeot Sports philosophy has always been to help drivers in wider aspects of motorsport. she added, An event like this at the start of the season will mean the crews can tap into the vast potential of the media interest that surrounds Rallye Sunseeker.
The rally begins on Friday 27th February at 7pm with two spectator orientated special stages around the Lower Gardens in Bournemouth town centre. Saturday sees a full day of gravel stages in the nearby forests of Ringwood, Uddens, Wareham and Somerley Park before returning to a town centre finish at around 6pm.