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As the series swaps the asphalt of Scotland for its forest gravel, the 2013 Twingo Renaultsport Trophy UK is tied at the top of the leaderboard, with Harry Threlfall and Ben Mckay having a win and a non-finish apiece.

The move back to the gravel of round three, the RSAC Scottish Rally, is not only new to the Renault crews, it is new to nearly all the crews in the MSA British Rally Championship, after a seven year break from the event.

And so it is a completely level playing field that will greet the combatants in Dumfries in just over a week’s time – same Twingos, same Pirelli tyres, same Sunoco fuel and same lack of experience of classic stages like Ae and Clatteringshaws.

The season started in May in Carlisle with the Pirelli Richard Burns Foundation Rally – a test of flat out motoring in Europe’s biggest man-made forest complex. Two crews new to the MSA British Rally Championship took to centre stage in this fight for a funded drive on Rallye du Var, the final round of the French Rally Championship in November.

23 year-old Threlfall and seasoned co-driver Andy Bull took first blood. The Somerset youngster made the long journey and huge leap to the BRC, but was not overwhelmed by the experience. Far from it, he was almost certainly the most enthusiastic driver in the field, beaming and revelling in the new experience.

Their main rivals for the BRC Juniors and Twingo Renaultsport Trophy UK, father and son Ben and Jason Mckay, had started to close the early gap in Kielder, but disappointingly retired on stage eight with a broken engine mount.

The move to the asphalt closed pubic roads of the Jim Clark Rally became a fight for survival for the winning crew. The Mckay’s little Renault Twingo had battled gamely with that of Threlfall and Bull, the latter just over three seconds clear after four stages on the event’s first day.

But both crews hit trouble on the second run through the longest stages of the event, Abbey St Bathans. First Threlfall hit a tree, permanently ending his charge, then the Mckay’s gearbox mount broke, stranding them in the darkening stage. Using re-start rules they managed to complete Saturday, levelling the points with two rounds gone.

The fight mirrors that of the one for British Junior Rally Championship honours and whoever comes out on top will make another giant leap at the end of the year. The French championship prize is not just a free entry, but a step up from the 133 bhp Twingo R1, to its big brother, the 190 bhp Twingo R2 EVO.

So when you watch them go by, learning every step of the way in these almost standard entry level cars, consider what is at stake and the huge steps these BRC newcomers have made.

In the far from standard Twingo Renaultsport R2 EVO in Scotland are Chris Ingram and co-driver Stephen McCauley. The youngster has set some cracking times so far this year, building on his 2012 success and is aiming for that all-important Pirelli Star Driver nomination, so watch out for fireworks in the forests.

Dumfries Ice Bowl hosts the rally’s headquarters, with the service park located at Heathhall Airfield two miles outside Dumfries, a spectator stage a couple of minutes walk from the service area.

The rally begins with a ceremonial start in Dumfries High Street between 7.00 and 8.00 pm on Friday 28th June, featuring selected BRC cars and crews. Nine stages in the Ae and eastern Galloway Forest Park complexes make up the 73 mile route, the first test at 8.00am, finishing back in Dumfries at 4.30pm.

For more information on the Twingo Renaultsport Trophy UK visit http://www.renaultsport.co.uk or http://www.twingotrophy.co.uk

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