A truly sensational entry of over 60 cars has been assembled for the opening round of the West Wales Rally Spares R.A.C. Rally Championship, the Rally Marketing Mid-Wales Stages (Sunday 3 March), with the field headed by Jimmy McRae, Nick Elliott, Marty McCormack and Geoff Jones.
The Roger Albert Clark Rally Motor Club has developed the championship, which focuses on historic rally cars complying with MSA historic regulations. But, significantly, it is also opening up the chance for the next generation of cars to join the historic fraternity.
The championship will run over seven one-day gravel rallies in England, Scotland and Wales. The championship caters for cars from MSA historic Categories One, Two and Three as well as cars prepared to FIA Appendix K. Additional classes accommodate cars built up to the end of 1986 as well as other pre ’87 cars that do not fully comply with historic regulations.
Colin Heppenstall, the man behind the Roger Albert Clark Rally, is the driving force for the new series but says that it is competitor demand that has been the catalyst for this new development.
“Competitors, many of them members of the Roger Albert Clark Rally Motor Club, came to us and asked us to put a championship together,” said Heppenstall. “We consulted with a range of interested parties and have had excellent support from the MSA. Cars in Categories One, Two and Three will run in full accordance with the current MSA historic regulations.”
More than 60 crews will line up in Newtown for the first of seven rallies and the quality of historic entry is being described as the best ever seen for a British championship event. The final count shows over 35 BDA/BDG engined Escorts in a field that also includes cars from Lancia, BMW, Vauxhall, Alfa Romeo, VW, Singer, Opel and Talbot.
Heading the field will be reigning BHRC Category 3 champions Nick Elliott and Dave Price in their Ford Escort Mk2. They have a fine record on this event and will be the championship benchmark. However, the vast experience of the legendary Jimmy McRae, partnered by Pauline Gullick in the JLT-backed Escort will be another major factor and the five-time British Rally Champion is a fabulous addition to the championship entry. However, the arrival of Marty McCormack and Phil Clarke on the entry list has added even more spice: they took a famous win on the Roger Albert Clark Rally last November and will fly on the glorious Welsh stages.
In a stunning field, quick Series 3 Escort Mk2s pack out the top 20 in the hands of drivers like Kevin Davies, Will Onions, Tim Pearcey, Thomas Davies, Ryan Barrett, Rob Smith, Andrew Haddon, Warren Philliskirk, Will Nicholls, Matthew Robinson, Phil Squires, Grant Shand and Alan Walker.
New to the historic arena for the event will be Jason Pritchard in a Viking Motorsport Escort Mk2, while Matt Edwards has worked tirelessly over the winter to get his Escort Mk2 ready after a first stage retirement on the Roger Albert Clark Rally. Variety in Series 3 is provided by the Sunbeam Lotus of Guy Anderson, while the presence of Welsh ace Geoff Jones in the ex-factory Vauxhall Chevette of Baz Jordan could give the Escort pack a real scare.
Guy Woodcock heads the Pinto-powered Escorts Mk2s in Series 3, with opposition from young Ben Mellors and Paul Fry. In the 1600 class is the Sunbeam Talbot of Lynden Jones. More Escort Mk2s will contest Series 4 for cars running to FIA Appendix K regulations, including the car of Neville Jones.
Among the Escort Mk1s at the head of Series 2 are the cars of Chris Browne, Craig Salter, Ian Rix and Roger Matthews, while the Pinto-powered cars include Dick Slaughter, Tim Jones, David Kirby and Nick Jarvis who will go up against the Opel Kadett of Peter Smith. The Series 4 Lancia Stratos of Steve Perez is another star car and will come to Newtown fresh from contesting the Boucles de Spa in Belgium two weeks ago. From the 1600cc ranks come the rapid Escort Mk1s of Matt Fowle and Robin Shuttleworth.
At the very front of the rally will be the pre ’67 cars in Series 1, with Pete Gunson’s Lotus Cortina going up against the Singer Chamois of husband and wife crew Chris and Jo Tooze and the lovely Alfa Romeo of John Everard.
A major feature of the new championship are the classes for other pre ’87 cars and Series 5 is set to grow in popularity as the season develops. Simon Wallis/Graham Wride (BMW 325) and Adrian Kermode/Maurice Beckett (VW Golf) lead the way in Series 5, while Series 7 caters for all pre ’87 cars regardless of specification and includes the Ford Escort of Mark Spencer, who is co-driven by Aberystwyth rallying guru Steve Pugh.
It is a fantastic entry for the opening round of a championship that is only going to grow in stature and popularity over the rest of 2013 and beyond.Classic Rallying