Round two of the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship is mere days away and the battle on the Bulldog International Rally North Wales is likely to be hot, with one thing for certain, a fierce fight for the Formula 2 title at the front of the field.
Number one seed of the two wheel drive runners is BRC returnee Marty McCormack who will debut the new Citroën DS3 R3 on UK gravel. Although he and David Moynihan missed the opening round in Bournemouth, the Northern Irishman is not a total novice when it comes to the British series. His pedigree not only includes victory in the UK and Irish C2R2 Cups in 2009, but on his way to taking the British Junior title, scored a fantastic fourth place overall on his home Ulster Rally the same year.
Having contested the French Citroën championship in 2010, he is well used to the ferocity of competition at the front, so Irishman Craig Breen and Welsh co-driver Gareth Roberts will need to push their Fiesta R2 extra hard to try and gain an advantage over the more powerful DS3.
The M-Sport Ford Rally Team crew come fresh from Rally Portugal, where they led the FIA WRC Academy battle until sliding off the road. But being match fit with such recent gravel experience should see them in good stead in Wales, providing they put their 2010 Bulldog mechanical woes out of their minds.
Leading the Dulux Trade MSA British Teams Rally Championship, Autosport Technology’s two Renault Twingos are next on the road; Estonians Siim Plangi/Marek Sarapuu heading the brace of pockets rockets and the BRC Formula 2 title race by virtue of their victory on Rallye Sunseeker. However their Finnish team-mates Mikko Pajunen and Jani Salo have some unfinished business with the youngster, having been faster on round one, but picking up timing penalties that dropped them a handful of seconds behind.
The BRC is a truly international competition, so to have a contest within a contest adds even more spice and the Twingos certainly promise to provide that. Another Renault entry is that of Northern Irishman Mark Donnelly, runner up in the Citroën Racing Trophy in 2010. He has hired an R3 Clio for the event with a view to buying the car if he likes it; a great position to be in, particularly as he has the 2010 event and championship winning co-driver Barry McNulty alongside.
M-Sport Ford’s second crew John MacCrone and Stuart Loudon will be on a mission to add to the Teams’ points and will want to get one over on Autosport Technology’s Twingos. The Scots had an electrical gremlin on round one, but their pace was undoubtedly quick and with a third place in the Fiesta SportTrophy runners in Wales last year, they have an excellent base to build on.
Just outside the top six on the road, but third in the Dulux Trade MSA British Formula 2 Rally Championship is 586 Sport’s Callum Black. He and Paul Wakely aim to prove that last month’s podium place was no fluke and with the stages suiting nimble high powered cars, the cracking sounding Super 1600 Suzuki Swift will be a force to be reckoned with.
The final part of the top ten comprises Finnish newcomers Jussi Kumpumäki and Peter Flythström, who missed Rallye Sunseeker in their Fiesta along with Irish pair Joe McGonigle and Niall Burns. McGonigle’s Citroën is half of the Team C2R2 Max assault on the Dulux Trade MSA British Teams Rally Championship, team mates Desi Henry and John Rowan running at car number 15.
The final crew in the Formula 2 top ten is all Australian, all girl and all smiles. Molly Taylor and Rebecca Smart have moved to the UK to improve their chances of moving up the rally ladder, a plan that seems to be paying off. Taylor is the reigning BRC Ladies Champion while the crew forms part of the FIA WRC Academy and like Breen come straight to Wales from Rally Portugal.
The four wheel drive cars will also battle it out in the Welsh woods, but such is the intensity of the scrap for overall Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship honours that it is well worth its own preview – watch this space.
All the crews will be on show in the centre of Welshpool this Friday from 6pm, with an autograph session between 6.15 and 6.45, before the International field is flagged off from 7pm.
Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship Bulldog International Rally North Wales entry list HERE
For more information on the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship visit www.rallybrc.co.uk
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