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The Grooms Garage Mid Wales Stages returns to Newtown this weekend (4th March) as the Newtown and District Automobile Club organised event welcomes crews from across the country to the popular rally.

After a 12-month break, the gravel event will take around 60 crews across 44 competitive miles of forest action in the Hafren, Sweetlamb and Forest Experience Rally School complex. Based at The Hafren, Newtown, the rally has attracted a wide range of cars and crews from across the country and forms round two of the Pirelli MSA Welsh Stage Rally Championship.

The Restruct Ltd & http://www.jelfmotorsport.com Welsh Mixed Surface Championship, the Brian Dennis Motorsport Welsh Historic Rally Championship, the West Wales Rally Spares HRCR Stage Masters Challenge, the ANWCC Forest Rally Championship and the FMP Rally Challenge also head to the event this weekend.

Leading the crews away from Newtown on Sunday morning will be two-time event winner and British Rally Championship (BRC) contender Tom Cave with Dale Bowen returning to the co-driver’s seat in Cave’s own Subaru Impreza. After taking victory in 2011 and 2012, a podium position followed in 2016 when the event was a round of the BRC and the Aberdovey driver will be hard to beat on stages he knows well.

Welsh Rally Championship front-runner Dylan Davies and Llion Williams start the event as number two seed, hoping to improve on their fourth spot at the season opening Cambrian Rally a few weeks ago. Also hoping to improve on their Cambrian performance, Sacha Kakad and James Aldridge head away at three.

Not managing to make the start of the Cambrian after mechanical issues in their brand new Ford Fiesta R5, Kakad will be desperate for seat time as the BTRDA regular gets acclimatised to his new surroundings.

Martyn and Dawn England are at four with their similar Fiesta R5 and are looking for their first gravel win in the machine since the Red Dragon Rally in 2016. Andy Davies and Max Freeman bring their rapid GpN Subaru Impreza to Newtown and could be an outside bet to challenge for the top step and start the event at five.

British Historic Rally Championship runners-up Nick Elliott and Dave Price lead away the two-wheel drive contingent at car eight in their impressive Ford Escort MK2. They will be looking for extra seat time ahead of the opening round of the series in a few weeks’ time.

Llandrindod Wells driver Graham Middleton makes a rare appearance this weekend at the wheel of a unique Mitsubishi Mirage R5. Co-driven by Steve McPhee, Middleton has enjoyed multiple Mid Wales Stages wins over the years and could also be a dark horse for overall victory.

Looking further down the field, a very notable entry comes in the form of car 55, a Subaru Impreza driven by no other than pop star and chart topper John Newman. Famed for his 2013 number one single “Love me again”, Newman will make his debut in the sport thanks to support from The Forest Experience Rally School whose venue at Carno will be used as a stage on the event.

Spectators will be well catered for and can watch the action at two locations during the day. Crews will leave The Hafren in Newtown on Sunday morning at 09.00 before heading out to the first spectator stage of the day in Hafren forest. Used twice during the day, the first run takes place at around 09.47 and then for the fourth stage at 13:56.

Spectators can also head to the fan-friendly Sweet Lamb Rally Complex, again for two passes at 10.16 and 14.25. At both venues, the charge is £10 per person.

The service area offers a chance to get close to the cars and crews at The Hafren and will be busy most of the day, ahead of the event finish at around 15:20.

More details, spectator information and entry list are available at http://www.midwalesstages.co.uk

Images courtesy of Crayford Media & RalliPhotosWales

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