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WWRS pre-Mid Wales13aThere will be some surprises on the opening round of the West Wales Rally Spares R.A.C. Rally Championship, according to a panel of industry experts, when the season start on the Rally Marketing Mid-Wales Stages (Sunday 3 March).

Our entirely unofficial poll was conducted using votes from a mix of drivers, championship officials, sponsors, members of the media and all-out enthusiasts. As well as being asked to predict the event winner, our experts were asked to highlight the drivers they expected to turn in the big surprises of the rally.

A whole range of drivers were tipped to turn in head-turning performances, with Dylan Davies and Matt Edwards both cropping up more than once as drivers likely to be grabbing some headlines when the rally finishes in Newtown on Sunday afternoon.

“Dylan Davies would be my surprise package,” said BMW driver Simon Wallis, a view shared by cameraman and TV producer David Winstanley. Edwards, meanwhile, is tipped for good things on his first full historic rally. His entry on the Roger Albert Clark Rally ended in a crushing first-stage retirement last November.

“I think Matt’s pace will be very good considering his lack of rear-wheel drive experience,” said photographer Russ Otway, a view shared by Ford Escort and historic rallying guru Jonathan Pulleyn and championship webmaster Steve Higgins.

Opel Kadett driver Peter Smith tipped young Ben Mellors to shine despite his limited experience, while both Paul Dyas from Dunlop and Escort Mk2 driver Alan Walker tipped Will Rowlands to make a big impression. “I expect Will to surprise a few looking at some of his previous stage times,” said Walker.

Championship sponsor Gareth Lloyd says that Irishman Ryan Barrett could get right up among the quickest drivers and journalist Carl McKellar tipped Sunbeam Lotus driver Guy Anderson to rattle the Ford Escort pack. Winstanley also thinks Andrew Haddon will fly. “Andrew just appears every now and again and always goes quickly when he does!” Finally rallying enthusiast Ian Burnell says that former Subaru Impreza driver Iwan Rees will beat his start number by a fair margin.

Whatever happens, it is going to be a fabulous battle and a glorious start to a championship that is only going to grow in stature and popularity over the rest of 2013 and beyond.

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