Saturday, 20 June 2009

BHRC R4: Mid-Wales Stages preview

Some of the famous stages from Wales Rally GB await crews in round four of the Dunlop/Gambia MSA British Historic Rally Championship, the Rally Marketing Mid Wales Historic Stages on Sunday 21 June.

With a strong entry of over 60 cars, there will be great competition across all three categories as crews tackle famous stages in the Hafren and Myherin complexes. From the start in Newtown, the rally heads into the surrounding forests for 50 miles of superb gravel roads.

Category 1: Favourites for category one spoils among the pre ’68 cars is the Sunbeam Tiger of Jonathan and Graham Gale, which has shown prodigious speed already this year. However, this is far from a forgone conclusion, as the Porsche 911 of Dessie Nutt and Geraldine McBride will be as big a rival as ever to the V8 Tiger. In the most recent round, the Severn Valley Stages, Nutt was caught out by the Tiger’s dust and slid off the road, rolling the Porsche in the process of an uncharacteristic slip.

Leading the chase of the Tiger and the 911 will be overall title contenders Paul Mankin and Desmond Bell in their Lotus Cortina. The Newcastle-upon-Tyne crew is having a great season and another strong result will keep them in contention for the BHRC title. Ranged against Mankin/Bell in class B4 will be Welsh Historic Championship contenders Graham Waite/Gill Cotton (Volvo Amazon) and Gwilym Roberts/Gwawr Hughes (Lotus Cortina).

Heading class B2 will be the Mini Cooper S of Mike Barratt/Jody Watson, while class B1 has the Sunbeam Imp of Geoff Taylor/Steve Greenhill up against the two-stroke Saabs of John Parker/Caroline Lodge and Nick Pinkett/Jonathan Lodge. The fact that the co-driving Lodges are husband and wife should add to the battle of the Saabs.

Category 2: It is proving to be a great season for Rupert Lomax/David Alcock, who head to the Mid Wales as overall leaders in the BHRC after three very good results in their Escort Mk1. They will be determined to maintain that momentum, but two more Escort Mk1s in particular will offer very strong opposition. David Stokes/Guy Weaver have yet to have a proper clean run this season and will be eager to put that right in Wales, while Ernie Graham/Robin Kellard are also very quick in their similar car.

The battle for class C4 will be rejoined with the Porsche 911 of Tim Mason/Graham Wild taking on the Ford Capri RS3100 of Jeremy Easson/Alan Cook. Also getting into the frame in C4 as he gets used to his Porsche 911 is Peter Smith, partnered as usual by Russ Langthorne. This trio of C4 cars also has the potential to give strong chase to the BDA-powered Escorts in the category two field.

Class C3, for the Pinto-powered Escorts, is hugely competitive, with at least four potential winners. Tim Jones/Don James will be seeking to press home the local advantage, but Drew Wylie/Howard Pridmore are having a fantastic season and will make a real fight of it. Add in Andrew Siddall/Captain Thompson, Ken Forster/John Stanger-Leathes and the rising star of C3, James Slaughter with Greg McCormack alongside, and it’s going to be some battle. Further spice is added to the mix by the rallying debut of former Le Mans winner Guy Smith, co-driven by Graham Henshaw in the Escort Mk1 driven by Guy’s father Peter last year.

In class C2, Matt Fowle/Robert Cook could set the pace, but a late entry from Vince Bristow/tba will ensure a fierce contest, with Richard Williams/Richard Ekin also looking to get into the contest.

Category 3: Another superb entry for category three packs no less than 14 Escort Mk2s into the top 20 seeds, with Severn Valley winners Gwyndaf Evans/Gareth Roberts leading the way in the car from Phil Mills’ stable. But with Nick Elliott/Dave Price, Julian Reynolds/Ian Oakey and Darren Moon/Chris Parsons running as the next three cars on the road, the pace is going to be sensational. Elliott won the season-opening Bulldog Rally, while Moon won in Kielder, so Reynolds will be very keen to make it four winners from four events. But that’s certainly not the end of the strong Mk2s, as packing out the top 10 are Paul Griffiths/Sam Collis, Terry Brown/Den Golding, Will Onions/Tim Hobbs and Simon Tysoe/Cliff Simmons. It is a stunning line-up, and the quality continues well beyond the top 10 with crews like Dick Slaughter/Geoff Dearing and Gareth Lloyd/Ryland James.

In D3, the pace of Irish Escort Mk2 crew Ryan Barrett and Barry Ferris will be mighty and they will be very tough to beat if they have a clear run. Guy Woodcock/Iwan Jones and Richard Lane/Frank Richer head the opposition, while the Escort Mk2 of Jacob Scannell/Nina Thompson leads D2.

The Rally Marketing Mid Wales Historic Stages is organised by Newtown and District Automobile Club Ltd. For more details about the event, please visit the website at:

By Paul Lawrence