The NGK Spark Plugs BRC Challenge crews return to action again this weekend as the final round of the Championship takes place in the forests of North Yorkshire. The Scarborough based event with its fast gravel stages that have begun to define the rally, has thrown up some spectacular end of season action over the years. And this year promises to be no different with plenty of overall and class positions to be decided.
The drivers and co-drivers championship titles have been secured but there is still plenty to play for. A tense ending to round six in Ulster saw the Citroën pairing of Richard Sykes and Simon Taylor crowned NGK Spark Plugs BRC Challenge Champions for 2012. Having secured the drivers and co-drivers title alongside the RC5 class honours for the year, the pair are looking toward for a third successive rally victory on round seven.
Second place in the title race is James Watts in his RC3 specification VW Polo. The amiable farmer has punched well above his weight so far this season and a second place finish overall is definitely still on the cards. Watts currently sits 18 points clear of a tie for third place between Tony Simpson and Russ Thompson, making the Yorkshire event key to the final championship standings. Watts has already secured his overall class victory but regular co-driver Steve Hartley still requires a good finish in order to take the RC3 co-drivers title.
Simpson started the year looking towards securing the Fiesta SportChallenge trophy but his consistency has given the Liverpudlian a chance of a top three finish overall. A good solid drive in the North Yorkshire forests will be enough for the company Director to take the prestigious SportChallenge title for 2012, however he still retains a seven point lead in the RC4 class over rival Thompson.
Thompson and his navigator Andy Murphy have had an up and down season with their Renault Clio, having suffered disappointment early on in the year then having to battle back, taking two podiums in Ulster. The two Ulster results secured Murphy the co-drivers title, but wheelman, Thompson, needs to make up ground on Simpson. The Lancastrian is capable of it though having led this event last year well into its later stages.
Fifth place in the standings is Gareth White in his Citroën C2R2 Max, just eight points behind Simpson and Thompson. Any slip up from those two and the young Scot will surely take advantage. White and co-driver Mike Dickson, secured a podium on round one and the duo from north of the border have the proven pace to trouble those in front. Both White and Dickson can secure second place in the RC5 class category by finishing in Yorkshire.
Behind White in the championship standings is Adam Taylor in his Ford Fiesta ST. The Oxford engineering student has had a baptism of fire (literally) in his first season in the sport. Round two in Wales saw his original car catch fire on a road section heading towards a remote servicing halt. The blaze was so intense the fire brigade had to shut the road for almost an hour, causing an early finish to the International event. A big roll on the opening stage of the Jim Clark rally back in June was a fine way to introduce himself to tarmac too. But undeterred, Taylor picked up experience and a very credible finish in Ireland last time out, as well as third place in the RC4 class behind Simpson and Thompson.
One man that will be looking for some sort of luck on the final event of the year is Richard Archer in his spectacular looking ex-works Opel Corsa. Both man and machine are quick; Archer has secured several BRCC wins in the past couple of seasons, but reliability this year has meant for a miserable season. Alongside him for his torment is John Connor, but with such a disappointing year neither have been able to challenge for the overall title. With this in mind, Archer and Connor could be looking to put a silver lining to their cloud with a trip to the top step and some champagne spaying on the Scarborough sea front.
The rally gets underway with a podium start on the Scarborough seafront on Friday night that allows fans to get up close to the cars and drivers. There will be an autograph signing session with the International field and plenty of quay-side entertainment, in what has become a signature of the BRC events.
The Challenge competitors then head out to the forest of Dalby at around 7:30pm for stage one. Once again the famous Dalby Woodyard section of the stage will house a special spectator area that gives an unparalleled view of the action, as well as on site amenities.
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For more information on the NGK Spark Plugs BRC Challenge visit www.rallybrcchallenge.co.uk
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