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WWRS14 pre-Red Kite14aThe 2014 Red Kite Stages (Sunday 2 February) will give the gravel rallying season the perfect start with a superb entry for the opening round of the West Wales Rally Spares R.A.C. Rally Championship.

In a total entry of 85 cars, 60 of them will be chasing points in the UK’s most popular championship for historic cars. The R.A.C. Championship entry spans 17 different models of car and includes over 25 crews that are new to the championship.

From the Llandovery start on Sunday morning, crews will tackle five fast and flowing Welsh stages and the competition is set to be intense across an entry that is topped by the Ford Escort Mk2 of Nick Elliott and Dave Price.

Heading the field away will be a fabulous line-up 14 cars in the Walker Diecastings Category 1, where the Paddy Hopkirk Trophy awaits the end-of-season champion. This is the best field of pre ’68 cars on a UK rally for more than two years and includes contenders in the new Aldon Automotive Mini and Imp Cup. Running at the head of the pack will be the Porsche 911 of Paul Mankin and Desmond Bell in their first event in the ex-Derek Boyd car.

Set to rival Mankin in the Category 1 contest are Ian Beveridge/Peter Joy (Volvo PV544), Simon Wallis/Graham Wride (Lotus Cortina), Edmund Peel/Dessie Nutt (Porsche 911) and father and son team Bob and Dale Gibbons (Ford Cortina GT).

The Mini contest will be the centre of great interest as Clive King and Russ Joseph take on the identical cars of Irish brothers Frank and Ray Cunningham. Unlike his younger brother, Frank has experience of gravel rallying, but has not rallied a Mini for the better part of a decade. In turn, the Cunninghams will be co-driven by brothers Arron and Ross Forde.

Running alongside the Category 1 cars at the head of the field, and enjoying the very best road conditions, will be the up to 1600cc cars from Categories 2 and 3. In Category 2 are championship newcomers Paul and Daniel May (Ford Escort Mk1), while the Hillman Avengers of Graham Thatcher/Robert James and Keith Davison/Henry Richardson take on the Sunbeam Talbot of Dave Hopkins/Tony Vart in Category 3.

In the Capital Construction Category 2, it is husband and wife crew Chris Browne and Ali Cornwell-Browne who head the field but they can expect tough opposition from the similar Ford Escort Mk1 of Roger Matthews/Paul Morris. In Class C3, for the non-BDA powered cars, Irishmen Stanley Orr and Brian Cairns are welcome additions and will take on the similar Ford Escort Mk1 of David Kirby/Chris Rixon and the fresh Opel Ascona A of Peter Smith/Patrick Walsh.

Elliott and Price head the entries for the Rob Smith Rallying Category 3, but face a gaggle of very rapid challengers led by 2013 BHRC champion Richard Hill and Pat Cooper in their newly-prepared Ford Escort Mk2. Tomas Davies and Eurig Davies are racing against time this week to rebuild their Escort from a bare shell to start as car number three, while Irish aces Owen Murphy and James O’Brien are next away in their Talbot Sunbeam Lotus and are determined to take the overall fight to the Escorts.

Adding superb depth of quality to the Category 3 field are more very quick Escort Mk2s for Terry Brown/Den Golding, Meirion Evans/Iwan Jones, Darren Moon/Elgan Davies, James Potter/Bob Duck, Tim Freeman/Paul Wakely, Jerry Bailey/Graham Lacey and championship sponsor Gareth Lloyd with Ryland James.

Alongside Murphy in Class D4 is another former BHRC champion James Stait in his Sunbeam Lotus and the glorious Triumph TR7 V8 of Peter Jones/Graham Joseph. Meanwhile, championship newcomers Shawn Rayner and Declan Dear head Class D3 in their Pinto-powered Escort Mk2 and have a gaggle of rivals including local ace Gareth Lewis, Ben Friend/Sean Kennedy, John Baker/Seyyan John and Paul Fry/Mike Steele.

The Holton Homes Category K for FIA specification cars starts with the Escort Mk2 of Tom Coughtrie/Calvin Cooledge, which should be joined by more FIA cars as the season develops.

Running within the concurrent modern event are the cars in Category O for open two-wheel drive cars and heading the R.A.C. pack is the spectacular Toyota Starlet of Leyton Waters and Kevin Bowcott. Their rivals include Escorts for Neal Dwyer/Danny Fenning and Barry Stevenson-Wheeler/John Pickavance and the Opel Manta of brothers Simon and Alistair Crook.

The rally will be based in Llandovery with Rally HQ at the Castle Hotel and the central service area at the adjoining Llandovery Mart. The first historic car will start at 8.30am on Sunday and return to the finish at 2pm.

The Red Kite Stages is organised by the Amman and District Motor Club. For more details about the event please visit http://www.redkitestages.co.uk.

More details about the WWRS R.A.C. Rally Championship can be found at http://www.racrallychamp.org Follow the championship on Facebook at
http://www.facebook.com/RACrallychamp and on Twitter: @RACRallyChamp.

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