The action-packed Prestone MSA British Rally Championship travels back into Scotland for the third round of Britain’s premier rally series. The RSAC Scottish Rally (19/20 May) will welcome the BRC top-guns, as they tackle the demanding gravel stages around Dumfries with over 74 competitive miles playing host to the exciting rallying showcase.
Last time out in Cumbria the BRC teams faced the fast and flowing Kielder Forests with a fine balance between speed and bravery bringing fruitful awards to the crews. Four different drivers topped the time sheets on the eight stages and four tyre manufacturers featured in the top six finishing positions – underlining the variety and competitiveness of the 2017 season.
Top of the class aiming for good results
Championship leader Fredrik Ahlin comes into the Scottish Rally on a crest of a wave having taken the top spot on the opening two rounds. The Swede with his Norwegian co-driver Torstein Eriksen have gelled with their new Skoda Fabia R5 and DMACK tyres, consequently the pair has a small cushion at the top of the BRC points standings. The Scottish Rally was the start of a nightmare period in Ahlin’s 2016 season, however that won’t stop the Swedish sensation from going out on the attack to make it a hat trick of 2017 wins.
Pushing the Scandinavian pairing all the way on the Pirelli International Rally last time out was Osian Pryce and Dale Furniss in their Ford Fiesta R5. The Welsh pairing came within a handful of seconds before suffering handbrake problems, making the challenging chicanes hard work for the man from Machynlleth. Having secured a third and a second, Pryce will be gunning for a first BRC victory for his Spencer Sport team.
Also out to make history is Tom Cave and his co-driver James Morgan. The Welsh duo put the brand new Hyundai i20 R5 through its paces for the first time in Cumbria and were right on the pace from the off – leading the event from the start before suspension failure put the hard chargers out of contention. The pair finished second last year on the Scottish Rally and will hope to secure their first BRC win together and the first for Hyundai since David Higgins in 2004.
Homegrown hero David Bogie with Kevin Rae alongside will have massive home support as they tackle stages on David’s doorstep. Bogie was running in a comfortable podium last year before radiator woes hit his Fabia R5. This year the Scot has built on his fine 2016 pace, taking four stages wins on the recent Pirelli Rally.
Another Fabia crew who have found their form is Marty McCormack/David Moynihan. The Kumho-backed pair took their first podium in the Skoda on the previous event and will be hunting further success on the gravel of Scotland. As will Desi Henry and Liam Moynihan who secured a fine third overall last year. The Irish pairing have struggled so far this season but will hope history repeats itself by using the Scottish Rally to turn their season around.
Rhys Yates and Carl Williamson have got their year off to a strong start in their Michelin-shod Fiesta R5 – scoring a good haul of points to put them at the sharp end of the championship table. Matching Yates is the ever-improving Matt Edwards and Darren Garrod in their Hankook-equipped Fiesta R5. The Welsh pairing have broken into the top five now and the all-important podium wont be too far away.
Jonny Greer and Kirsty Riddick won the latest round of the Northern Ireland Rally Championship and will be hopping to bag more important points in their Pirelli-shod Citroen DS3 R5 before their preferred Tarmac events later in the season. Also hoping to climb the BRC table are Scottish stars Euan Thorburn and Paul Beaton who are dovetailing their BRC campaign with their Scottish Championship commitments.
CA1 Sport star Jamie Anderson continues to develop his new Fiesta R5 with Ross Whittock on the notes. The English pairing go well on the gravel and will be eyeing a top five in the Scottish lowlands. M-Sport will be hoping to see Keith Cronin return to the top step in the BRC with Mikie Galvin alongside. Alex Laffey scored his first points on gravel on the last round and will be pushing for more to help the M-Sport squad topple fellow Cumbrian outfit CA1 Sport in the Team’s Championship standings. Laffey will be joined by Patrick Walsh in the striking Fiesta R5 on his home event.
Red-hot pace in the Junior field
Not many events are won by just a handful of seconds, let alone 0.4 seconds. That was the winning margin on the second round of the Prestone Motorsport News Junior BRC.
William Creighton was a gravel novice coming into the new season but now the Northern Irishman is threat on all surfaces. He scored his first Junior BRC win on the Pirelli International Rally, with Liam Regan expertly guiding the young-gun. Creighton’s victory was also the first Junior BRC win for the popular Peugeot 208 R2.
Callum Devine perhaps left the Pirelli wondering what might have been – losing the event by just 0.4 from a hard charging Creighton. However, the Irishman can be satisfied with his gravel pace. The Ford Fiesta R2T driver took his first Junior BRC rostrum, thus setting himself and co-driver Keith Moriarty up nicely for the Scottish Rally.
Devine’s teammate Oscar Solberg is the other round winner in 2017 with the Norwegian taking the maximum points in Jedburgh at the start of the season. With Patrik Barth alongside the Scandinavian duo will want to make it two wins in Scotland to put their title tilt back on track.
Last time out Welshman Meirion Evans recorded his first BRC podium and was delighted to taste the champagne with co-driver Jonathan Jackson. With the pairing having now broken their podium duck, the 208 R2 team will be hoping for more from Scotland.
Cameron Davies and Caron Tomlinson showed flashes of brilliance leading the Junior event after two stages in Cumbria. The Welsh combination is getting to grips with their 208 R2 and will be pushing for a podium on the Scottish gravel. Fellow Peugeot driver Marty Gallagher and navigator Dean O’Sullivan can never be discounted from the podium as they dial themselves into their less favoured loose surface.
Spencer Sport star James Williams recorded his first points on the Pirelli and is growing with confidence after every mile. On the Scottish, Williams will be joined by the experienced Dai Roberts as the Welsh pair strive towards further championship points in their Fiesta R2T.
The unluckiest man in the Junior BRC has to be Josh McErlean in his rapid Citroen C2 R2. The Northern Irishman’s pace has been unquestionable as he threads the French pocket-rocket through the stages. With Aaron Johnston set to call the notes, the pair will be out to score their first points of the season in Scotland.
BRC Cadets ready for Scottish scrap
Josh Cornwell and Richard Bliss boast the perfect record in the Cadet Cup, having taken the top step of the rostrum on the opening two contests. Cornwell didn’t have it all his own way on the Pirelli as the Surrey-based driver in his Fiesta R2 enjoyed an opening day scrap with Fergus Barlow and Max Freeman. Barlow led initially until getting stuck in a ditch. The man from Mull will be treating the Scottish Rally as a home event and will be after that elusive win.
Tom Williams’ speed is growing with every event and a fine second on the Pirelli has helped his title hopes by elevating himself and co-driver Bryan Hull into second in the standings. Nabila Tejpar is ever consistent with Charley Sayer-Payne expertly guiding. The all female crew have two fourth placed finishes on the board and will be out to record their first class podium in the BRC in Scotland.
Alex Waterman suffered driveshaft woes, putting paid to his recent BRC foray. A solid finish on the non-championship Manx National, however will help his confidence heading to the Scottish Rally. Waterman will be joined in the Fiesta R2 by Tom Woodburn.
Close battles throughout the BRC classes
John Morrison/Peter Carstairs scooped their first National Rally Cup win on the Pirelli and comfortably lead the series. The flamboyant Donnie Macdonald will be back behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta R5; the local driver will be in full attack to reel in compatriot Morrison.
Mountain bike legend Gee Atherton returns to the series in his Ford Fiesta R2T with Keaton Williams reading his pacenotes and will be eager to stretch his BRC4 championship lead over the hungry David White (Fiesta R2) with son Matthew sitting alongside.
Production Cup leaders Spencer Wilkinson and Glyn Thomas are due to start the Scottish Rally but face a race against time to source vital components to put their Subaru Impreza back on track and extend their c