The FUCHS LUBRICANTS MSA British Historic Rally Championship resumes with round three on the ATL Carlisle Stages (Friday/Saturday 8th/9th June) as the championship contenders head back to the daunting challenge of the Kielder forest complex.
As well as being the third of eight BHRC rounds, the ATL Carlisle Stages is also the third round of the BHRC Forest Challenge, supported by Rally and Competition Equipment, and the new BHRC2, supported by Sherwood Engines. The ATL Carlisle Stages is organised by the Roger Albert Clark Rally Motor Club.
The Carlisle Stages will offer BHRC crews 45 stage miles across six stages. On Friday evening, the first crews leave Carlisle at 6pm for three stages in the Kershope region. The Category 1 and 1600cc historic crews will run first on the road in reverse order before the balance of the historic and Rally2 crews.
On Saturday morning, the crews will tackle three more stages alongside BTRDA contenders before finishing back in Carlisle from around 11am. This event will mark the first time in three years that historic crews have run at the head of the field, thanks to the recent MSA relaxation of running order rules. The Ford Lotus Cortina of Paul Mankin and Desmond Bell will be the first car through all six stages.
The battle at the head of the field is shaping up for a re-run of the fantastic contest that decided the Pirelli Rally in late April when championship leaders Paul Barrett and Dai Roberts took a narrow win over Matthew Robinson and Dave Robson. Robinson will have regular co-driver Sam Collis back this time around and will be determined to turn the tables on Barrett in what is sure to be a sporting fight.
More Ford Escort Mk2s will head the chase including Steve Bennett/Osian Owen, Rudi Lancaster/Guy Weaver and Simon Webster/Jez Rogers, while the Hillman Avenger BRM of Ieuan Rowlands/Emyr Hall showed excellent pace last time out as Rowlands got his first taste of Kielder.
Class D3, for the Pinto-engined Escort Mk2s in Category 3, is proving to be superbly competitive this season and it is Stuart Egglestone and Brian Hodgson who currently set the standard. However, chasing very hard will be the similar cars of Ben Friend/Cliffy Simmons and Josh Browne/Jane Edgington. Friend and Browne are two of the fast-rising young guns of historic rallying.
A strong Category 2 entry is topped by BDA-powered Escort Mk1s of Mark Holmes/Craig Simkiss, Chris Skill/Peter Scott and similar cars for Chris Browne/Ali Cornwell-Browne and Andrew Stokes/Adrian McNally.
Finally, class C3 promises another fierce class contest between the quick Escort Mk1s of Josh Carr/Ben Hall and Mike Simpson/Dale Gibbons. Carr has had a character-building season to date with an engine failure in Wales and gearbox failure on the Pirelli. He is hoping this will be a case of third time lucky.
BHRC2 supported by Sherwood Engines
The new BHRC2, supported by Sherwood Engines, has been created to turn the spotlight on the Category 1 (pre-1968) and up to 1600cc cars in the championship.
A great field of cars, now running first on the road, will line-up for the third round of BHRC2 and it is the class C2 Escort Mk1s that should set the pace in the hands of Robin Shuttleworth/Ronnie Roughead, husband and wife crew Stuart and Linda Cariss and David Gathercole/Ken Bills. Lining up against the Escorts will be the flying Hillman Avenger of Ken Graham and Rory McCann.
Topping the Category 1 field is the Porsche 911 of Pirelli winners Rikki Proffitt/Graham Wild and the Lotus Cortina of 80-year-old legend Bob Bean and co-driver Miles Cartwright who topped the category on round one. Paul Mankin and Desmond Bell will head the chase of Bean in their Lotus Cortina, while from class B3 is the astonishingly rapid Ford Anglia of Malcolm Rich/Arwel Blainey.