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BHRC15 pre-Red Kite15The 2015 Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship will get off to a flying start on the Red Kite Stages (Sunday 1 February) with an entry that is big on both quality and quantity.

Nearly 60 BHRC-registered crews will gather in Llandovery to tackle some classic Welsh gravel stages as Britain’s leading championship for historic cars starts a new five-year term under the management of the Roger Albert Clark Rally Motor Club.

Leading the main historic field away will be 2014 Red Kite Historic winner Richard Hill in his Ford Escort Mk2. Hill will be co-driven by Iwan Jones after a little co-driver shuffling over the winter and they are among the crews from the RSR Historic Engineering Category 3 who should stand out at the head of overall action. After winning the 2014 R.A.C. Championship title, Nick Elliott and Dave Price are another of the absolute pace-setting crews, and they were leading the 2014 Red Kite until a last stage accident.

Roger Albert Clark Rally winners Matthew Robinson and Sam Collis have the BHRC as their 2014 target, while Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke also showed winning pace last season. Pritchard will run his Escort Mk2 in the Holton Homes Category K for cars running to Appendix K specification.

A gaggle of rapid Escorts will be giving chase to the top four seeds. Notable names to watch include young duo Ben Llewellin/Ross Whittock, the spectacular Meirion Evans/Steffan Evans, Terry Brown/Den Golding, Tomas Davies/Eurig Davies and historic newcomers Joe Price/Chris Brooks. Price could be a real darkhorse as he makes his debut in the BHRC.

Lining up against the Escort pack will be the stunning Fiat 131 of Julian Reynolds/Ieuan Thomas on an event were Reynolds has enjoyed a great deal of success. The gorgeous Toyota Celica of Ben Mellors/Alex Lee is another rival to the Escort runners, along with the crowd-pleasing Lancia Stratos of Steve Perez/Paul Spooner.

Among the Pinto-powered Ford Escort Mk2s in class D3 it is Irishman Paul Barrett and Welsh co-driver Paul Wakely who should set the mark, but young charger Ben Friend and Sean Kennedy will be chasing hard along with Neal James/Kevin Jones. Ranged against the Escorts is the Saab 96 of Colin Hope and Nick Patrick. Meanwhile, the boom in support for 1600cc cars continues and the D2 class is topped by the Escorts of Chris Skill/Garry Middleton and Grahame Standen/Jane Edgington.

The pacesetter in the Capital Construction Category 2 will be the Ford Escort Mk1 of David Stokes and Guy Weaver, but the Gloucestershire driver has plenty of rivals including father and son crew Ernie and Will Graham, rallying returnee Rupert Lomax with co-driver Rich Jones, Chris Browne/Ali Cornwell-Browne, Roger Matthews/Jack Walby, Warren Philliskirk/Nigel Hutchinson and dark-horse John Perrott with Keaton Williams. It is one of the strongest class C5 entries for some time.

Down among the Category 2 classes, the competition will be just as fierce. The Escort Mk1s of Nick Danks/Martin Corbett and Simon Pickering/Colin Jenkins and the Opel Ascona of Peter Smith/Patrick Walsh will battle for class C3. The class C2 1600cc crews run at the head of the rally with Robin Shuttleworth/Ronnie Roughead and Dave Watkins/Tom Jordan to the fore in Escort Mk1s.

In the Walker Diecastings Category 1, Porsche stalwarts Rikki Proffitt/James Whitaker and Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride should lead the way against the Lotus Cortina of Paul Mankin/Desmond Bell and the very rapid, and usually sideways, Ford Cortina GT of Bob and Dale Gibbons.

Variety for Category 1 comes from rallying returnee Malcolm Rich with co-driver Jonathan Hawkins (Ford Anglia) while Bill Douglas and Dave Tearl field a rare BMW 1800. Finally, on his first gravel rally for over 20 years will be Mini Cooper pilot Philip Harris who has regular Escort Mk2 driver Alan Walker alongside.

Flying the flag for Toyota in the Jondel Engines Category 4 is the 1600cc Corolla of Will Midgley and Geoff Maybank.

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 just after 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 Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship can be found at http://www.historicrallying.org
Follow the championship on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/MSABHRC and on Twitter: @MSABHRC2015

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