The 2012 Kololi Beach Club MSA British Historic Rally Championship will get off to a stunning start on the Rally Marketing Mid Wales Historic Stages on Sunday (4 March).
A field of over 65 cars, taking in many of the fastest crews in historic rallying, will tackle five classic Mid Wales gravel stages and the action will be intense from the start, as the season opens with two assaults on the sensational climb of Pike’s Peak.
Leading the field away will be a very strong Category One entry, with at least six potential category winners making this more open than ever before. Pride of place as first car on the road goes to the Lotus Cortina of Simon Wallis/Graham Wride, but the Bridgnorth driver faces a gaggle of rivals headed by the Volvo Amazon of Graham Waite/Gill Cotton. What Waite lacks in power with the Volvo he makes up with commitment and the Amazon is always one of the most spectacular cars.
Four rapid Porsche 911s pack out Category One and it is the car of Terry Brown/Michael Gilbey that will head them away from Newtown on Sunday morning. This will be Brown’s first BHRC run with his latest toy and he’ll need to push hard to fend off the similar cars of Rikki Proffitt/Phill Harrison and Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride.
Another rapid Lotus Cortina is that of Paul Mankin/Desmond Bell, while a real darkhorse could be the Ford Anglia of Peter Stimpson/Mark Butler. If all goes well for the Devon crew, they plan to be chasing the Porsches and Lotus Cortinas.
The big shake up for Category Two is the arrival of Julian Reynolds and Patrick Walsh in a Ford Escort Mk1. Having won the 2011 Mid Wales in his Escort Mk2, Reynolds has switched to Category One this time around in a bid to win the overall BHRC title. The car will probably only be completed just in time for the rally and Reynolds will have no chance to test it, but his pace is such that he will still be tough to beat in Category One.
The crew taking the fight to Reynolds will be defending BHRC champions David Stokes and Guy Weaver in their Escort Mk1, but they will also have their hands full of two more Escort Mk1s from Rupert Lomax/David Alcock and father and son crew Ernie and Will Graham. New to class C5 after stepping up the power ranks will be Andrew Siddall/Carl Williamson and their progression to BDA power leaves the way open in class C3 for the Pinto-powered cars.
Sure to set the C3 pace will be the Escort Mk1 of Dick Slaughter/Tim Sayer, with series returnees Neal James and Kevin Jones leading the chase. More rapid Escorts in class C3 include those of Tim Phelps/Russell Joseph, Wayne Bonser/Richard Aston and Mark Holmes/Tony Lindsay.
A fabulous field for Category Three should deliver an epic contest as Nick Elliott and Dave Price head the pack in their Escort Mk2. The Cheltenham crew missed victory a year ago by just one second, so will want to make amends this time around.
Taking the fight to Elliott will be a gaggle of very quick Mk2 Escorts in the hands of Paul Griffiths/tba, Will Onions/Dave Williams, Alan Walker/Andrew Sankey and Tim Pearcey/Neil Shanks. Onions will be making his debut with a fresh Mk2 to replace the car destroyed last August in Ulster, while Walker has Sankey alongside for the first time.
The field is packed with rapid Escort Mk2s in Class D5, including the cars of Nick Woodman/Chris Parsons, Simon Webster/Pete Cotton and BHRC newcomers Kevin Davies/Dale Furniss. Ulster winners Tomas and Eurig Davies will be quick, as will Warren Philliskirk/Matt Whattam and a real dark horse is Escort legend Richard Gough, who makes his BHRC debut with Robin Kellard on the notes.
In Class D3 for the Pinto-powered cars, Richard Lane and Ben Friend will start as favourites from Shawn Rayner and Declan Dear, while in Class D4 the rare Mazda RX7 of Jake Scannell/Adrian Stevens goes up against the Sunbeam Lotus of James Stait/Marcus Cartwright.
Appendix K Class
New for 2012 in the BHRC is a category for cars running to FIA Appendix K regulations. More cars are likely to join the division as the season develops, and the early pacesetter will be the Vauxhall Chevette of Rob Smith/Shaun O’Gorman. Also in the category for the season opener is the Escort Mk2 of Jonathan Brace/Tim Samuel.
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: http://www.MidWalesStages.co.uk