1990 British Rallycross Grand Prix Contenders

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Martin Schanche Martin SchancheThere is little now that has not been said about Schanche, now in his 45th year, Mr Rallycross is still as brilliant, impulsive and flamboyant as ever. This year has again seen the Norwegian's RS200E chasing Matti Alamaki in the European Championship but Martin took four victories and also managed to take a victory over the Finn in a round of the Finnish Championship in the summer. Winner of the 1984 Grand Prix and runner-up since, Martin will certainly be chasing a second victory this weekend and, if he keeps his cool, should be in the running for a top place finish. Terje Schie Terje SchieAs Schanche continues to hog the limelight, the likes of Schie remain the underdogs in Norway but there is little doubt the Peugeot driver is second in line to Schanche's throne. This has been the most successful year to date for Schie, his 3rd with the Peugeot bringing a 4th place finish in the European Championship as well as another Norwegian title and a highly profitable victory in the "Swedish Maters" event. Schie visited Brands in March this year and on that occasion managed to establish a new track record of 2m 25.1s. Pekka Rantanen Pekka RantanenRantanen earned his reputation through a string of spectacular crashes and incidents during his first year In the RS200. Since then the Finn has improved dramatically and in the last half of this year became a regular 'A' Finalist. Now relying upon an ex-Schanche 2.3 litre BDT 'E' engine, Rantanen's RS200E is more than capable of making the leading pace and it would not be a surprise if Pekka did not make the Grand Prix Final this weekend. Pauli Silvennoinen A vastly experienced driver, Silvennoinen switched from a Porsche to his Metro about 18 months ago and has been one of the quickest drivers of a 3-litre car since then. In common with other drivers who do not have either the 3.8 or BiTurbo engines, Silvennoinen is struggling where sheer brake horsepower counts and Brands Hatch long starting straight is one of those places. 10th in the European Championship, Silvennoinen never gives up trying and despite the power handicap is likely to be amongst the quickest men. Dermot Carnegie Carnegie is one of the tidiest drivers you are likely to find in rallycross, the Dubliner never looking very spectacular but always going very quickly with his 6R4. Currently the Kirkistown Champion and the winner of both events at Nutts Corner this winter, Carnegie leads the All-Ireland Championship as this is written and could well be the first holder of the title by the time he arrives for the GP. More reserved than his compatriot Moloney, Carnegie could just have the durability necessary to last the whole event. John Maloney John MoloneyCurrently the Mondello Park Champion, Moloney is a real charger and always drives his Metro to the limits. Unique among Irish drivers, Moloney has contested overseas rounds of the ERC this year and took his 3.8 litre 6R3 to both Belgium and Holland for European Championship events, as well as driving in the "Night of Champions" at Maasmechelen. The Metro has been on its top a couple of times on John's visit abroad but with a better knowledge of Brands Hatch, the Irish man should be able to show his true colours. Sven Lestander Sven LestanderOn his last appearance here, Lestander drove an Audi Sport Quattro S1 but has now switched to the ex-Gunar Kittlesen/Terje Schie Escort. One of the ubiquitous "Xtrac Escorts", the car has given Sven a hard time this year, a broken gearbox and an engine failure keeping the Swede out of action for much of the season. The car is now running a Jonim-built engine and should present the logbroker with few problems at Brands Hatch. Lestander has come further than almost anyone else to be at Brands, his home being just outside the Arctic Circle in the far north of Sweden. Bertil Persson This year has seen Persson gain the honour of winning the first ever International rallycross in Portugal and the Swede has rarely been seen in the ERC, preferring instead to concentrate his efforts on the German Championship and non-championship internationals. Having driven the ex-Anders Carlsson S1 for some years, Persson has recently purchased Herbert Breitender's far more potent version and, if he drives the latter car at Brands, his chances of a top placing will be very much improved. Thor Holm Thor HolmOne of the happiest people you are ever likely to find in motorsport, the fun-loving Norwegian has really hit top form in the last few events and will certainly be aiming to upset the applecart this weekend. Now running his RS200E in identical trim to Schanche's, Holm managed two 2nd places finishes in the last three European rounds and was a key member of Norway's victorious Inter-Nations team. Holm's passion for racing does not stop at rallycross and in February the big man will be teaming up with Schanche as the duo tackle the Chamonix ice races in one of Holm's RS200Es. Jos Sterkens Jos SterkensSterkens have his neat Fiesta 4x4 its debut here at Brands Hatch in March, but that turned out to be a fraught affair with engine problems eventually ending his day early. Since then things have improved greatly and Jos has even managed to win International events in Holland and Czechoslovakia as well as making a very strong showing in his home European Championship round. With cars like Sterken's Fiesta being the shape of things to come in rallycross it will be interesting to keep an eye on his performance against the better developed Group B cars this weekend. Steve Palmer Steve PalmerThe 1990 British Champion, Palmer had a rocky road to his title success, but drove faultlessly throughout the year and was eventually rewarded with the British title after just three years in the sport. Palmer also started the European Rallycross Championship this year but had to cut back on his ambitious programme due to financial difficulties and finally appeared in just five European events. Those few races though were enough to earn him 11th place and his 2nd place in Austria demonstrated just how capable a driver he is. Now running Goodman's development 3.8-litre V64V engine, Palmer will be quick at Brands and, should it rain, could be a runaway winner. Will Gollop Will GollopAfter the 'sprint through the fog' last year that captured a 2nd GP title for Gollop, the local driver will be trying harder than ever to prove that he can bear all comers. The year has been a tough one too for Gollop, the development of his BiTurbo engine taking longer than expected and being set back with an engine failure in Finland. However, the second half of the ERC year saw a much improved combination make it through to the 'A' Final in every event, eventually overhauling Terje Schie to take 3rd in the Championship. This is the first time Gollop has driven his Turbo car at Brands and he is looking forward to using the car's power in the vital run to the first corner. John Welch John WelchRunner-up to Steve Palmer last year in the British Championship, this has been a much quieter year than normal for John. Not once did he venture away from home, but the break does not seem to have done him any harm as in both the British ERC event and the Inter-Nations team event, the Vauxhall Xtrac driver produced some of his very best form. Welch has always gone well at Brands - he won the GP in 1985 and has, in recent years, excelled in wet weather events, which could all bode well for a successful weekend. Trevor Hopkins Trevor HopkinsMultiple British Champion and man responsible for constructing the rallycross circuit at Brands, Hopkins has been out of action for most of this year following a back injury. However, the Ford RS200 driver made a successful return at Lydden three weeks ago and was setting some of the quickest times in the event. For this weekend there is a brand new Geoff Page-built 2.3-litre engine with which Trevor is greatly looking forward to getting to grips. The new unit should push the power output of his RS200E up to the 650-700bhp region! Rob Gibson Rob GibsonLove him or hate him, you cannot deny that Gibson is one of our fastest and most experienced drivers. One dubbed the 'Mick McMannus of Rallycross'. it has to be said that Gibson is inclined to be one of the more 'physical' drivers! This year has seen the Cheshireman running almost a full ERC campaign, only France was missed from the schedule, but he also drove in the 'Night of Champions' and 'Swedish Masters' events. This is likely to be the last event for Gibson's ex-Malcolm Wilson Metro, a new 6R4 being prepared for the 1991 season as the current version is sought by collectors. Denis Biggerstaff Denis BiggerstaffThe Nutts Corner Champion, Ulsterman Biggerstaff has been a regular competitor in the British Championship this year and, as such, has probably covered more miles that any other British series competitor. Running his 6R4 on a fairly tight budget Biggerstaff manages to find time to use the car in hill climbs and sprints as well as rallycross, and has taken class records at every hill climb he has contested this year. Running a Kenny McKinstrey-built engine, Biggerstaff is well down on power compared to the likes of Palmer and Gollop but tries hard and is a very capable driver. Barry Squibb Barry SquibbMoving into the ex-John Smith/Martin Schanche Xtrac Escort at the end of last year, 'Squibby' was instantly earmarked as a front-runner in the British Championship. Whilst that has not been too wide of the mark, Barry would have hoped for a batter year as mechanical problems hampered his scoring rate and effectively removed any chance he had of a top placing. Much work has been carried out on the car in recent months and now, tended by Bill Stewart, Squibb is hoping for better things today and into next year. Guy Williams Guy WilliamsOne of a handful of drivers to enter rallycross from motocross, Williams drive for a number of years in Formula C before making the jump to Formula A. Since the autumn, a 3.8-litre engine has been used and Guy has once again been showing class leading form. Highly competitive outings in the British and European Championship final have underlined Williams' ability and the young driver should be able to earn a top placing here. As with Palmer, Williams will benefit from any rain enormously and it is not beyond the realms of possibility for him to achieve a victory in such conditions. Mark Flaherty Mark FlahertyA driver who works hard at his rallycross, Flaherty has now been driving his G-Tech built 6R4 for just over a year and has won three events including a British Championship round, within that time. Having progresses from Formula B, Flaherty, who has additional support from Motaquip this weekend, has become one of the top British drivers and must be a leading runner in the 1991 British Championship. Already looking to the future, the Mitsubishi dealer is hoping to run a Group N Galant VR4 in 1992 and has his sights set very firmly on European Rallycross for the future. Richard Hutton Richard HuttonAt twenty years of age, Hutton is the youngest driver in a front-running car, but already has a wealth of experience to call upon. Now with almost three years in his 6R4, Hutton has become one of the fastest of the British drivers and his determined style is appreciated by fans both at home and abroad. A handful of European events were undertaken this year, all bar one producing a run in the finals. Another driver who sees his future in the European Championship, Hutton is also considering a change of car, although the Essex-based youngster wishes to remain in Division Two and is likely to build a new 'supercar'.Tags:, , , ,