The 2010 Dunlop/WONAGO.com MSA British Historic Rally Championship continues on Sunday (20 June) with round four, the Rally Marketing Mid Wales Historic Stages.
Despite coming at the busiest time of the calendar, a strong field will tackle the classic stages of Hafren and Myherin as used on Wales Rally GB in November. The rally also marks the end of the first batch of gravel rallies in the BHRC, with three asphalt events coming next through the summer months.
Category 1: Running first on the road will be the older cars in category one (pre '68) and three cars from the category are currently at the top of the overall BHRC title race. With a seven-point lead going into round four of eight, the Sunbeam Tiger of Jonathan Gale and James Whitaker is enjoying a great season and another strong result on Sunday will really underline their status of title favourites. But there is a long way to go yet and the result of round three, the Severn Valley Stages, showed that Dessie Nutt and Geraldine McBride (Porsche 911) are really taking the fight to the rumbling Tiger. However, it is not just about the two sports cars as the remarkable Volvo Amazon of Graham Waite and Gill Cotton currently lies between Gale and Nutt in the points' table after some tremendous performances.
Ranged against Waite in class B4 is the Lotus Cortina of Gwilym Roberts/Gwawr Hughes and the Volvo Amazon of Dave Reynolds/Cliff Doe. Among the smaller engined cars in category one, the Sunbeam Imp Sport of Geoff Taylor/Steve Greenhill is likely to set the pace and trouble some of the more powerful cars in the process.
Category 2: Category two, for the post-historic cars, is sure to be a re-match in the season-long contest between old rivals David Stokes and Jeremy Easson in their Escort Mk1s. Both are supremely experienced and it was Stokes, co-driven by Guy Weaver, who won the Severn Valley to make up for two non-finishes on the earlier events. Easson, meanwhile, is partnered by Alun Cook and will be pushing Stokes every inch of the way in what will surely be another excellent sporting contest. Other leading class C5 cars include the Escort Mk1 of Chris Browne/Liz Jordan.
A welcome return to UK historic rallying will be made by the Lancia Stratos of Steve Perez and Paul Spooner, which becomes quicker and more reliable with every event. Class C4 rivals to Perez include Peter Smith and Russ Langthorne in their Porsche 911RS, category two winners in Kielder.
Class C3, for the Pinto-powered Escort Mk1s, is one of the most competitive in the championship and is headed by Tim Jones/Don James, although they start the event one point behind Andrew Siddall/Captain Thompson in the championship battle.
In C2, the remarkable pace of the Escort Mk1 of Vince Bristow/Alan Sayer will set a formidable standard, with opposition from the similar cars of David Kirby/Sean Kennedy, Nigel Godden/Ian Orford and Gary Orton/Mike Morgan.
Category 3: The contest for category three will spearhead the event and it is the Mk2 Escort of Nick Elliott and Dave Price that heads the field away. They came back strongly from a big accident in Kielder to win the Severn Valley and they will surely set the pace again on Sunday.
Taking the battle to Elliott will be round two winners Will Onions and Dave Williams, while chasing hard will be Connor Corkill and Rob Fagg, who get quicker and quicker with every event. More very quick Escorts will be campaigned by Gareth Lloyd/Ryland James, Tim Pearcey/Craig Drew and Roger Kilty/Lynette Banks, while the class D4 Vauxhall Chevette of Rob Smith/Shaun O'Gorman will be right up with the best of the Escorts.
Richard Lane and Frank Richer currently dominate Class D3 during a superb season in their Pinto-powered Escort Mk2. Devon crew Stephen Richards/Ian Withecombe and Wayne Bonser/Richard Aston will be chasing, but the pace of Lane will make him very difficult to beat unless he has a problem. However, rallying returnee Shawn Rayner, partnered by Graham Dear, could be a darkhorse contender in D3 in the Escort Mk2 he last rallied more than a decade ago.
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: www.MidWalesStages.co.uk