The BRC returns after a year’s absence, with four-wheel drive machinery to do battle at the front for the first time since 2011. A number of well-known and successful drivers have been attracted to the new-look series and many of those will be using Pirelli tyres.
Leading the Pirelli charge will be two past BRC champions, Keith Cronin and David Bogie. Cronin previously won the BRC in 2009, 2010 and 2012 and makes his return in a Citroen DS3 R5, while Bogie will use a brand new Skoda Fabia R5. Both will be continuing long and fruitful relationships with Pirelli.
Sweden’s Fredrik Ahlin provides an international flavour to the entry in his Ford Fiesta R5, while Euan Thorburn’s Peugeot 208 R5 makes for a full complement of R5 models in action with Pirelli. Brothers Josh and Sam Moffett, Cronin’s DGM Sport team-mate Jonathan Greer and Škoda driver Neil Simpson will be other leading contenders on Pirelli tyres.
Established rally stars are not the only attraction on the Mid Wales Stages. Chris Harris, recently announced as a new host on BBC’s Top Gear, will also compete on Pirelli tyres. The popular motoring journalist will be giving a British debut to the new rear-wheel-drive Toyota GT86 CS-R3, entered into the BRC3 category.
The drivers will use the entire range of Pirelli’s famous Scorpion gravel rally tyres, ranging from the KM6 to the K8, as well as the GM family of historic tyres for the increasingly popular historic class. The KM specialises in particularly soft, wet and muddy terrain – typical of Wales – while the well-known performance and durability of the K4, with its bespoke tread pattern and specially formulated compounds, make it ideal to cut through loose stones and dirt on firmer ground.
Based in Newtown, the Mid Wales Stages feature classic tests that are also used in the World Rally Championship, including Myherin, Sweet Lamb and Hafren. The rally will begin with two stages held in darkness on Saturday night, adding a challenging extra dimension to the season opener, before four further tests on Sunday.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s motorsport director, said: “It’s fantastic to see the British Rally Championship – a series that has produced so many iconic drivers and champions – burst back into life again. With open tyre competition, we’re looking forward to showcasing our products that have proved to be so successful in national championships previously. As is often the case in Britain the weather will play a major part in this weekend’s action, with a possibility of cold weather and even snow, but our range is able to tackle anything. Tyres such as our KM have a fantastic history in the British Rally Championship, with legends of the sport such as Richard Burns and Colin McRae using them to win the title.”