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Bulldog International Rally North Wales - 27 Mar 10

Posted: April 2, 2010 2:02 PM - 17330 Hits

Round 1 - 2010 British Rally Championship
Round 1 - 2010 MSA British Historic Rally Championship
Round 1 - 2010 UK Evolution Challenge
Round 2 - 2010 Fiesta SportTrophy UK
Round 2 - 2010 Welsh Rally Championship

  • Cronin/McNulty win!

Photo: rallybrc.co.uk

Video Clip - BRC Review

Posted: April 2, 2010 2:02 PM

More Photos:

Posted: April 1, 2010 3:42 PM

Donnelly & Robinson blitz Citroën opposition

Posted: April 1, 2010 2:42 PM

Mark Donnelly and Paddy Robinson blitzed the opposition on their Citroën Racing Trophy debut on the opening round of the 2010 Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship, Bulldog International Rally North Wales this weekend.

A perfect Irish cross border partnership, Donnelly coming from County Tyrone and Robinson from County Donegal, the pair set fastest times on all eight stages of the 100 mile gravel event in their recently acquired Citroën C2R2 Max.

He commented at the finish,
“We had a good clean run all day with no troubles at all. The wee car has been great; it’s awesome and there is lot of good competition. It has been a good battle.”

The youngster’s pace in the R2 class overall also means that he takes maximum Citroën Racing Trophy prize money of €5,000. His nearest rival Robert Barrable, co-driven by Damien Connolly, takes just reward for his persistence in second place to the tune of €3,000.

Amiable Dubliner Barrable was ousted from second place on the stages just twice, Australian Molly Taylor and reigning champion Citroën co-driver Phil Clarke improving throughout the day to post a second fastest time on the penultimate stage and finish third in the one-make series.

The only other driver to get close to Donnelly was the luckless Midlander Richard Sykes. He and co-driver Simon Taylor had moved up to the Citroëns to try and overcome a couple of seasons’ reliability issues, but ended the day with engine failure on stage six while lying third with a second fastest time to his credit.

The fourth placed pairing of Joe McGonigle and Niall Burns also had some bad luck, but theirs came before the event, failing to complete more than one stage of the recce. Their second recce car broke down while driving off the ferry from Ireland, then lack of a spare wheel after a puncture in a hire car left them stranded. Consequently they completed the event without prior sight of the stages.

2009 Swift Sport Cup Champions Luke Pinder and Peter Scott had a slow start to the season having lost communication on the very first stage. This was coupled with an unfamiliar driving position, the Yorkshireman unusually struggling to get used to a right hand drive car after several seasons in left hand drive.

The first round over and €14,000 prize money split between the finishers, all the drivers will be keen to get to the Pirelli International Rally at the end of April to get their hands on the remaining prize fund of nearly €120.000.

For more information on the Citroën Racing Trophy visit

2010 Citroën Racing Trophy
Bulldog International Rally North Wales results
Pos Driver/Co-driver Time Points Prize
1 Mark Donnelly/Paddy Robinson 1:51:48.4 20 €5,000
2 Robert Barrable/Damien Connolly 1:54:04.6 18 €3,000
3 Molly Taylor/Phil Clarke 1:56:56.7 16 €2,500
4 Joe McGonigle/Niall Burns 1:56:57.4 15 €2,000
5 Luke Pinder/Peter Scott 1:58:14.5 14 €1,500

Fiesta SportChallenge (FSC) - Cunningham does the Double

Posted: April 1, 2010 2:40 PM

The 2010 Kick Energy Fiesta SportChallenge (FSC) competitors were in Welshpool on Saturday 24 March 2010 for Round 2 of the 2010 championship the Bulldog Challenge Rally and Round 1 of the 2010 BRC Challenge (BRCC). The FSC supports the BRCC on five of the six rounds and competitors must nominate either the Manx or Ulster to score championship points.

26-year-old Ulsterman Jonny Cunningham was once again the man to beat in his Fiesta ST. Richard Parry-Jones and John Pritchard finished 2nd and 3rd both of whom were in only their second events since returning to competition.

The shorter challenge ran over the final five stages of the full International event and started with the 17-mile Sweet Lamb stage. Cunningham and co-driver Richard Millener took the early lead with a time of 21minutes six seconds. The result was all the more impressive it was the first time Cunningham had driven the legendary North Wales stages. Richard Parry-Jones and Sara Price, from Abermaw, were next up, 28 seconds behind Cunningham. Local driver John Pritchard was third in stage one a further 30 seconds behind Parry-Jones. 20-year-old Alex Laffey from Market Harborough and co-driver Daniel Swainbank clocked the fourth fastest time and were continuing to make improvements in their first full season of competition. Just seven tenths of a second behind Laffey was 18-year-old Jamie Brown, the Norwich based driver relishing the chance to compete on one of the most famous stages in the world. Dan O'Brien, 17 from St Albans, and co-driver Will Rogers were sixth on only their third event together. Round 1 runners up, Damien Smith, 28 from Silsden, and Frazer Hutchinson suffered a torrid time in stage one, going off the road and were unable to continue. The pairing will hope to get their championship challenge back on track at Round 3, the Pirelli Challenge Rally.

The crews returned to service for the only stop of the day having enjoyed their run through Sweet Lamb, but many noting that there was much more time to be made up had they the chance to repeat the stage in the afternoon. That was not the case however and the crews left service for the remaining four stages of Big Ray, Dyfi Main, Pantperthog and Gartheiniog.

Cunningham was fastest through Stage 2 but Parry-Jones was a close second, only six seconds behind the Workington based driver. John Pritchard had a diagnostics check on his car at service as he felt it was down on power and with the car given a clean bill of health he was just half a second behind Parry-Jones. Brown and Laffey switched positions with Brown posting a time six and a half seconds quicker than Laffey to leap frog him in the overall classification. Dan O'Brien was once again sixth; the 17-year-old still finding his feet on the special stages having switched codes from Rallycross over the winter.

For the third successive stage Cunningham posted the fastest FSC time ahead of Parry-Jones and Pritchard. Cunningham's advantage over Parry-Jones was 28 seconds increasing his overall lead to just over one minute. Dan O'Brien made the most of mistakes from both Laffey and Brown in Stage 3 to jump from sixth to fourth. A missed pace note meant Laffey slid off the road in fifth gear on Dyfi Main and incurred a stage maximum. He and co-driver Swainbank managed to un-stick the car and continue albeit minus the front bumper. Brown also slid off the road in Dyfi Main incurring a stage maximum but with considerably less damage than his fellow ST driver.

Cunningham and Millener were having no dramas on their second FSC event despite still getting used to their Group N Fiesta ST. The pairing once again won Stage 4, Pantperthog, by a comfortable 20 seconds ahead of Richard Parry-Jones and Sara Price in the Gwyndaf Evans Motors prepared ST. Dan O'Brien was steadily improving his pace, as he had done on Round 1, to finish the stage fourth, just ten seconds behind the experienced John Pritchard and Chris Williams who were third. Jamie Brown recovered from his earlier excursion to finish the penultimate stage under three seconds behind O'Brien. Laffey also continued and posted a time only six seconds slower than Brown, as he aimed to regain his confidence on the challenging Welsh stages.

As the crews headed for the final test of the day, Gartheiniog, Cunningham held a comfortable one minute 20 second lead over Parry-Jones who was himself had a 35 second lead to John Pritchard in third. O'Brien was still in fourth and with a six minute advantage to Brown could afford to back off and drive to the finish of the event without any pressure.

Despite his advantage Cunningham once again set the fastest FSC time through Stage 5 to increase his winning margin to one minute 50 seconds. He and co-driver Richard Millener had been the class of the FSC field winning all five of the competitive tests and brought the car home third overall in the BRCC. Parry-Jones took a steady approach in the final stage to bring the car home in second in only his second event after choosing to return to competition. John Pritchard took the final spot on the podium just 30 seconds behind Parry-Jones move into second in the overall standings behind Cunningham. O'Brien drove sensibly through the final stage to claim fourth in the FSC with the recovering Jamie Brown taking fifth. Alex Laffey was the final FSC finisher after struggling with the damage he sustained in his earlier off.

The 2010 Kick Energy Fiesta SportChallenge heads to Carlisle for Round 3, the Pirelli Challenge Rally on Saturday 24 April. Cunningham and Millener will be out to maintain their championship lead.. Both Pritchard and Parry-Jones however will be out to close the gap to the championship leader and Damien Smith will be looking to kick start his championship after his promising showing around the Cumbrian stages on Round 1.

Fiesta SportChallenge Winner - Jonathan Cunningham said:
Coming into the event I never expected to be leaving as Fiesta SportChallenge winner again! I am extremely happy with how it all turned out. It was a shame that Damien [Smith] retired early on but the pace of Julian [Wilkes] and Callum [Black] kept me honest and I really hope to be able to take the fight to them on the next round. My thoughts now turn to preparation for the Circuit of Kerry where I will begin my Irish Junior Championship campaign. I can' wait to get back out competing!"

Victory denied for JRM

Posted: April 1, 2010 2:38 PM

JRM went to this weekend’s Welshpool-based Bulldog International Rally of North Wales looking to score their first British Rally Championship win, but once again the team were denied their chance of victory when bad luck intervened in the early stages of the event, Gwyndaf Evans and co-driver Chris Patterson retiring when a gearbox problem stopped them going any further than stage two.

Following a resounding victory in February, when the team took its Group N Mitsubishi Evolution X to Scandinavia for the second round of the Finnish Rally Championship, JRM wanted to showcase its cars in the UK and therefore entered the opening round of this year’s Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship. Add to this result a series of highly successful tests in the UK and the highly experienced pairing of Gwyndaf Evans – who is a resident of North Wales – and co-driver Chris Patterson, all of the key elements were in place for an excellent showing this weekend.

With the team painstakingly developing and increasing the performance of the car over the past few months, it came as a big surprise to Evans that, not far into the first stage – a 16-mile run through Myherin – there was the smell of gearbox oil coming from underneath the car. As he continued through the stage he gradually felt the gear-changes become tighter, until he was only able to select 2nd, 3rd and 4th.

Even so, he and Patterson were still able to set third-fastest time and therefore decided to continue into stage two and then try to get to the first service halt of the day back in Welshpool. Even with the transmission issues not getting any better, they made it to the end of the 17-mile Sweet Lamb stage, setting the sixth fastest time and still holding a position of fourth overall.

However, at the next control the damage to the gearbox and clutch meant that the car was going no further and their rally came to a premature conclusion. A great shame, as even with the problems, it was quite clear that the JRM Evo was on the pace of the BRC front-runners.

On inspection back at the team’s workshops in Chesterfield, it has been reported that the cause of the transmission issue may well be associated with the increased torque from the engine. This follows the fitting of the larger 33mm air restrictor in accordance with this year’s Group N regulations, coupled to the extensive development that has been carried out by the team recently that has potentially placed additional stress on the gearbox.

In contrast, JRM team-mate and former Icelandic Rally Champion Daniel Sigurdarson with his sister Asta Sigurdardottir co-driving, had a trouble-free rally in their Evo X. Having set a constant pace on each of he event’s eight stages, they ended the event in eighth place overall and finished an excellent second in the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge, the highly competitive one-make series for Group N Lancers which is sponsored this year by JRM.

Team Quotes

Gwyndaf Evans
“I can’t believe what happened today. I spent a great deal of time testing the car recently and must have covered 100s of miles without any problems at all. This outcome is so frustrating as I know how hard the team has worked over the past few months and they don't deserve this result. The JRM Evo X is the best Group N car I have ever driven, so there is no doubt that it is more than capable of winning a round of the British Championship. I just hope we get another chance to prove it.”

John Barnes - JRM Operations Manager
“After the performance of the car in Finland and its reliability in the tests we carried out before this event, we were really not expecting today’s turn of events. I have to admit that anything other than a win this weekend would have been a disappointment. However, we know our car can win and we are still confident that it's the most competitive Evo X out there. We’re therefore looking forward to the next event and a chance to put the records straight.”

Transmission failure ends Alastair’s Brilliant Bulldog Start

Posted: April 1, 2010 1:45 PM

The Bulldog International Rally, round one of the British Rally Championship presented 100 miles of superb Welsh forest stages for the crews on Saturday. For Co. Tyrone’s Alastair Fisher, who finished third in the British and Irish Rally Championship’s last season, it presented the first chance in 2010 to measure his performance once more against the best in Britain, and Alastair once again proved he had great pace. On stage 6 however the Group N Mitsubishi Evo 9 succumbed to a rare mechanical failure in the rear differential, and for Alastair and Letterkenny co-driver Rory Kennedy it was the end of their Bulldog efforts.

However it was quite some effort early on for Alastair and Rory.
“Keith Cronin had a superb time on the first 17 mile stage, but we were happy enough with our pace in comparison with the other crews.”
Indeed after two stages Alastair was lying in third place overall behind leader Cronin and second placed Craig Breen in his Super 2000 Fiesta, but Craig’s rally ended on the road section after stage 2 with fuel pressure problems.

Stage 3 was a re-run of the opening Myherin test and Alastair blasted to his first fastest time, a full 6 seconds ahead of Dave Weston Jnr in his Subaru.
“We had fastest times on stages 3 and 4, we settled into a good rhythm and the braking zones were much cleaner. It seems to be at times the smoother you are with these Group N cars the better your time on the clock . We had also made a few minor tweaks to our pace-notes on the first run over the tests, and that helped us carry a wee bit more speed. Gerry McGarrity as ever had done a great job with the car, and it was handling very well, the balance felt good.”
It was an impressive pair of stages for the Team UK MSA Elite driver, and it put Alastair a firm second just 30 seconds behind leader Cronin, and 30 seconds ahead of third placed Weston Jnr.

Fortunes were to change however by the end of the very next stage.
“After stage 5 on the road section I heard a knocking noise from the rear, and when I inspected the rear differential there was oil leaking. We had no option but to drive on into the next test, the car limped through in front wheel drive only, but when we stopped after the stage finish, we had lost all drive so that was it.

It is disappointing on the first round not to finish as we were leading the UK Evo Challenge also, but I was happy with the car, I feel the car now has a lot more traction since upgrading to DMS suspension, coupled with the excellent grip from the Pirelli K6 tyres we are a good half a second a mile faster than last year.”

With only four days to get the car re-prepped and into tarmac specification prior to this weekend’s Circuit of Ireland, its going to be all systems go back at McGarrity Motorsport workshop in Fermanagh in readiness for round two of the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship in which Alastair lies in equal third place overall.

Marshall Clarke will be stepping into the co-driver’s seat this weekend, as Rory Kennedy is on holiday. Marshal has co-driven for World Production Champion Niall McShea in the past, and Alastair is very much looking forward to this Easter classic.

“I know Marshall quite well and I am looking forward to having him on board for the first time for which is also my first attempt at the full Circuit. There is an 18 mile night stage on the Saturday evening so that should be quite challenging. Galway was a good start to the Irish Tarmac Championship for us, so let’s hope we can keep that going.”

18 YEAR OLD MARK DONNELLY DOMINATES CITROEN RACING TROPHY UK ROUND ONE

Posted: March 29, 2010 10:05 PM

18 year old Omagh student Mark Donnelly took the honours at the weekend on the opening round of the Citroen Racing Trophy UK. The young driver with Letterkenny co-driver Paddy Robinson finished an impressive eleventh overall driving their 195 horse power Citroen C2 R2 Max on the Bulldog International Rally in Wales, round one of the 2010 British Rally Championship. On this 100 mile event over famous Welsh gravel stages such as Sweet Lamb and Myherin, Mark brought his C2 home over two minutes ahead of his nearest C2 challenger to claim a fantastic prize of €5000, thanks to the support of Citroen Racing.

“It worked out really well for us and I am delighted to start the British series this way. We had a good push on the opening 17 mile stage, and it was a good start for us” commented Mark. Stage 2 wasn’t quite so easy with a broken clutch cable and a slight hesitation with the car after a water splash, but Robbie McGurk and the Omagh based MSS team quickly repaired the C2 in service for the next two long stages. “We headed out with a forty second lead over Dubliner Robert Barrable but we needed to push on through stages 3 and 4, as that isn’t that much of a gap. However again everything worked well for us and we opened up more of a gap. We had contested the Carrick on Suir forestry event at home a few weeks ago, and we got a decent result 8th overall and 2nd two wheel drive, and that proved to be good practice. The set up on the car from that event seemed to work very well on the Bulldog, it was really turning in well to the corners and the new Pirelli tyres we were using also gave good grip. It was an enjoyable rally, but a tough one also with so many miles in one day. It was almost like driving three of my local Bushwhacker rallies in one day!”

Over stages 5 and 6 Mark further stretched his advantage, leaving him able to ease off slightly to preserve the car on the final loop, taking his maiden C2 victory.
“It is a great feeling to win it, and it gives me more confidence before the Circuit of Ireland this weekend.” The prestigious Circuit of Ireland event is the second round of the Citroen Racing Trophy Ireland series. On the first round in Galway Mark suffered a broken gearbox on the first stage, then when he re-joined the rally he had a high speed off road excursion after the C2 got out of phase on some fast bumps. However since Galway he contested the Mayo Stages Rally finishing an impressive 19th overall and first in class.
“Galway was a disappointing start for sure, but I actually feel better approaching the Circuit of Ireland than I did heading over to the Welsh forests. We were pleased with the set up we ended up with on the car after Mayo, and I am really looking forward to the Circuit of Ireland. It’s such a famous event, and two days around the closed roads, with an 18 mile night test will be challenging!”

For being just 18 years old Mark has been very successful in motorsport already, having started when he was 14 winning the Alltrak series in a 1200cc Vauxhall Nova. From the Nova he progressed to a Peugeot 106 Cup Car in which he won Alltrak events and Harrington’s Quarry outright, before using an ST Fiesta last season. Indeed in 2009 he finished runner up in the International Fiesta Shoot-out competition after many fast drives during the season.

The young Management student will be one to watch in 2010, as he graduates up the rallying ladder, with the Citroen Racing Trophies following the prestigious British Rally Championship and Irish Tarmac Rally Championship.

BHRC report, round one: Bulldog Historic Rally

Posted: March 29, 2010 9:54 PM

Just as they had done a year earlier, Nick Elliott and Dave Price stamped their authority on the opening round of the 2010 Dunlop/WONAGO.com MSA British Historic Rally Championship, the Bulldog Historic Rally (Saturday 27 March).
While Elliott/Price (Ford Escort Mk2) dominated an incredibly strong category three, other key winners were Jonathan Gale/James Whitaker (Sunbeam Tiger) and Jeremy Easson/Alun Cook (Ford Escort Mk1). For the 80-car field, which was packed with quality, the Bulldog delivered a fabulous rally over some of the finest gravel stages in Britain.  

Category 1
Gale and the Tiger started favourites to repeat their 2009 Bulldog win in category one, but it was still a challenge as a late change of co-driver left Gale and Whitaker to get used to each other over the opening stages. Meanwhile, Dessie Nutt and Geraldine McBride set off at a cracking pace in their Porsche 911 and edged ahead before the Mimecast-backed Tiger got into its stride.
"We put softer tyres on for the second loop and it was much better," said Gale of the big push through the long Gartheiniog stage that took the Tiger into the lead. Even a spin on the final stage failed to hinder the Tiger's progress as it finished 37s up on Nutt's Porsche. "The stages were very, very good," said Nutt of a trouble free rally.
A strong class B4 was won by the flying Volvo Amazon of Graham Waite/Gill Cotton after another spectacular performance. "We were matching times with Dessie later," said Waite of his day's work. Leading the chase of the Volvo was the Lotus Cortina of Paul Mankin/Desmond Bell, with a gap of just over half a minute at the finish. The sportsmanship of Mankin and Bell allowed a timing query over the class result to be quickly resolved.
In class B1, Geoff Taylor and Steve Greenhill stormed through in their Sunbeam Imp Sport despite a misfire and a puncture late in the last stage. Some way back, but happy to finish his debut BHRC event, was Simon Whitehead, teamed with Gary Wood in his Hillman Imp.  

Category 2
Everyone was hoping for a fine battle in category two between old rivals Jeremy Easson and David Stokes in their Escort Mk1s. Unfortunately Stokes and Guy Weaver were out very early with a blown core plug and so Easson and Alun Cook swept to victory, 36s up on the non-BHRC registered Andrew Haddon/Mark Crisp.
"It's been absolutely fantastic," said Easson of a great day on some epic stages. It was his third category win in three events in his latest car. Chasing the Mk1 Escorts and bagging class C4 was the Porsche 911 of Tim Mason and Graham Wild after a problem free day. "The main target was a finish and that's probably the steadiest rally I've ever driven," said Mason.
Tim Jones and Don James were the top of class C3 with a great run over their local stages in their Escort Mk1, finishing the rally a minute up on the similar car of Andrew Siddall/Captain Thompson. Out very early with an engine fire went Drew Wylie/Howard Pridmore.
Class C2 delivered an interesting day, with victory finally going to the non-registered but spectacular Hillman Avenger of Stephen Whitford/Simon Morrow. However, until the final stage, the class lead was with Vince Bristow/Tim Sayer after a mighty run in their Escort. Unfortunately, an off in Dyfnant cost them a couple of minutes and dropped them to second, albeit still with maximum class championship points.
Third in C2 went to the Hillman Avenger of Gary and Jane Edgington, as the driver celebrated his 48th birthday. "I paid the entry fee; he's not getting anything else," said Jane of her husband's birthday.  

Category 3
Probably the best ever entry for category three promised a great day for the fans in the forests and they were not disappointed. But from the off, no-one could match the pace of Elliott/Price who swept ahead on the opening Big Ray stage and led all the way back to Welshpool with a stunning display of pace and commitment. "I didn't think we were going that quickly," said Elliott after a masterful performance.
Leading the chase was the similar Escort Mk2 of Julian Reynolds/Ian Oakey, but Reynolds accepted that the day belonged to Elliott. "We went too slow this morning and Nick gave us a good hiding," he admitted, although the gap at the finish was just 25s.
Third in category three was a fine result for the non-registered Phil Collins/Derek Brannigan, while Richard Hill/Patrick Cooper took fourth in their Escort Mk2. "Cracking stages," said Hill of their rally. "The car was spot on, but the driver was just steady," he added.
Packing out the leading places in Escorts came great performances from Will Onions/Dave Williams and Conor Corkill/Rob Fagg, while Seamus O'Connell/Nigel Gardner deserved better than seventh. However, losing second and third gear through the final two stages cost them a lot of time. In D4, Rob Smith/Shaun O'Gorman took top slot in their Vauxhall Chevette, with a result that put them among the top 10 Escorts.
There was a great battle among a strong D3 entry, as Richard Lane/Frank Richer took the class by just seven seconds from Stuart Clarke/Andy Ballantine in the contest of the Mk2 Escort-Pintos. Into the final Dyfnant stage, Clark was ahead by a second but Lane mounted a big attack and emerged eight seconds faster to grab the class. "It all came together well," said Lane. "Brilliant stages," he added, summing up the feelings of just about every crew on the rally.

Weston Junior takes second place points on BRC opener

Posted: March 29, 2010 9:51 PM

Dave Weston Junior has taken second place points on the opening round of the British Rally Championship, the Bulldog Rally.

The only problem Junior and his co-driver Ieuan Thomas reported throughout the entire 100 mile event was a puncture during the second run through Myherin. However, despite the puncture they were still second fastest through the stage.

"This is a great result for us and Ramsport, and a great follow up to the win we took on the Border Counties a week earlier," said Junior. "The car went like a dream and we were second fastest on three stages. This was only our third competitive outing in the car as well, so to finish second behind Keith Cronin who is the reigning British champion is a fantastic start to our BRC year.

"It was a shame the Super 2000 car did not finish as it would have been interesting to see how their times compared to everyone elses and it would have been good to have had Gwyndaf Evans there until the end to see his times too, but having seen what everyone is capable of on the Bulldog I think this will definitely be a very exciting year in the championship."

Junior and Ieuan were joined on the podium by event winners Keith Cronin and Barry McNulty, and third placed Adam Gould and Craig Drew, who finished 26 seconds behind. And it was only after the finish ramp celebrations and media interviews that Junior revealed he had been feeling extremely ill throughout the event.

"That made finishing second even better," said Junior. "I'd felt ill all day, but didn't want to say anything as I didn't want anyone to worry, and I knew I was okay to keep driving. Now we're already thinking about the next round, but I may do another event before that as a warm up as my local rally, the Granite City, is just before the Pirelli International. It would be nice to support the local event, but the BRC is my priority for the year, so we'll make a decision on whether we can do both events nearer the time."

Junior's team mates Darren Gass and Neil Shanks brought their Subaru home sixth in the points, leaving Team Ramsport second overall in the teams' championship, just three points behind leaders Teg Sport with five rounds to go.

The next round of the BRC takes the team on to Carlisle as they line up to contest the Pirelli International Rally on 23/24 April.

Jonny Greer records maiden Evolution Challenge victory.

Posted: March 29, 2010 9:50 PM

This weekend’s Bulldog International Rally of North Wales saw Jonny Greer and co-drier Dai Roberts record their first ever Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge victory, when they won round one of the 2010 British series by a convincing margin ahead of Icelandic crew Daniel Sigurdarson and Asta Sigurdardottir.

The tenth consecutive season for the Evolution Challenge in the UK shared its opening round with that of the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship, the strong Class N4 (production category) entry seeing six Mitsubishi crews registered for the series.

Based in Welshpool, the rally kicked off with two stages in mid-Wales and the forests of Myherin and Sweet Lamb. Stamping their authority on the Evo Challenge proceedings right from the start were Alastair Fisher/Rory Kennedy, who pulled out a healthy margin of 20 seconds ahead of Greer/Roberts by the time cars returned for the first service halt.

Uncharacteristically a minute behind in third was returning 2008 Evo Challenge Champion David Bogie with co-driver Kevin Rae, who reported he was driving hard and surprised not to be on the pace, although a lack of engine power was suspected to be the cause.

Most unlucky crew of the day were Irish pairing Owen Murphy/James O’Brien, who retired just a few miles into in the first stage when a problem with their car’s gear selector mechanism meant that they found themselves stuck in fifth. Although they tried to get the stage the clutch eventually burnt out and, with no drive, they were forced to stop - a frustrating conclusion for the whole team, having worked hard over the winter to get the car prepared before the start of the season.

The next two stages were a re-run of the first two and Fisher/Kennedy were flying. Having adapted their pace notes for the second pass they not only set the fastest Evo Challenge times – but the fastest times overall - on both SS3 and SS4. Their Mitsubishi series’ lead was made even greater when Greer/Roberts picked up a rear puncture in SS3, the deflated tyre damaging a wheel sensor - which in turn affected the actuation of the active differential system for the remainder of the stage and the one that followed.

Now gathering pace were Icelandic brother and sister Sigurdarson/Sigurdardottir and they were now closing the gap on Bogie/Rae who were still struggling to see why their committed driving was not being rewarded with better times.

Making their debut in the UK were East African crew Peter Horsey and Moses Matovu and, at the second service halt admitted they were taking no risks and were getting to know their brand new Evo X and the British forests, which provided totally different terrain from that of their more local rallies.

There then followed a further four classic Welsh stages before the finish: Big Ray, Dyfi Main, Pantperthog and Gartheniog. Heading off to start the first of these Fisher/Kennedy found they had a 1 minute 40 second lead, with their performance good enough to also see them hold second place overall.

After yet another good run through SS5, Fisher suddenly noticed something was wrong in the road section before SS6. It turned out to be the car’s rear differential, which meant that the 19-year old drove the whole 8.5-mile stage in front-wheel-drive only. Although getting to the finish the car would not pull away from the stop line, which brought his and Kennedy’s event to an undeserving conclusion.

This left Greer/Roberts in charge of the Mitsubishi field and, without putting a foot wrong through the final two stages they returned to Welshpool to score their very first Evolution Challenge victory.

“Besides the puncture everything has gone really well today”, said Greer. “We found we couldn’t match Alastair’s pace this morning, but our plan was to make sure we got to the finish. I’m therefore pleased we achieved that and, in doing so, score our first win in the Evo Challenge, which makes this a really good start to the year.”

For Bogie/Rae, their event was getting even more surreal. After driving hard all day and unable to post front-running times due to an undetected loss of power, they then found they had collected a seven-minute penalty for changing a wheel at an arrival control. This addition of time meant they dropped to third behind Sigurdarson/Sigurdardottir, who were more than satisfied with their day’s rallying – even after clipping a rock in the penultimate stage and bending their Evo X’s steering.

Horsey/Matovu were also pleased with their event and returned to the finish without a mark on their new car, having enjoyed their first experience of rallying in the UK – even though temperatures were around 30 degrees centigrade less than they were used to. Their efforts were rewarded with the Sunoco Spirit Award.

The second round of the Mitsubishi series takes place on Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th April, when crews head to the Carlisle-based Pirelli Rally and the demanding stages of Kielder Forest.

The 2010 Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge UK is supported by:
Mitsubishi Motors UK, Pirelli tyres, Sunoco fuels, JRM, Cyprus Automobile Association, Fairways Mitsubishi, Speedline Corse wheels, Murray Motorsport, CL brake pads, Sparco racewear and PIAA lights - who sponsor the junior award for under 25-year old drivers.

For the first time this season the winner of the Evolution Challenge in the UK, Ireland and Sweden, will win the same prize:
A supported drive in the FxPro Rally Cyprus, the final round of the IRC (Intercontinental Rally Challenge). Then, whichever of the three teams are first home on this event will be crowned European Evolution Challenge Champions. Added to this, the winning driver in the UK will be a guaranteed nomination for the Pirelli Star Driver shoot-out.

Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge UK - Round 1 results
1 Jonny Greer (Carryduff)/Dai Roberts (Carmarthen) 1:43:04.5
2 Daniel Sigurdarson (Iceland)/Asta Sigurdardottir (Iceland) 1:46:00.4
3 David Bogie (Dumfries)/Kevin Rae (Hawick) 1:52:29.2
4 Peter Horsey (Mombasa)/Moses Matovu (Kampala) 1:54:31.1

Retirements
SS1 Owen Murphy (Cork)/James O’Brien (Cork) Clutch
SS6 Alastair Fisher (Trillick)/Rory Kennedy (Letterkenny) Transmission

Fiesta SportTrophy (FST) - Evans gives a Star Performance

Posted: March 29, 2010 9:47 PM

Kick Energy Fiesta SportTrophy (FST) Championship leader Elfyn Evans took a dominant victory on Round 2, the Bulldog International Rally of North Wales.  The 21year old Welshman won by almost nine minutes from John Boyd with series debutant John MacCrone in third.  The event was also the opening round of the 2010 Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship (BRC), which the FST will be supporting for the remainder of the 2010 season.   

The rally began with a visit to the legendary Myherin and Sweet Lamb stages.  Evans and co-driver Andrew Edwards was the only FST crew to cover the 16miles of stage one in under 18minutes with a time of 17minutes 41seconds.  Next up was 20-year-old John MacCrone who was making his FST debut in the Rally Team Scotland prepared Fiesta R2.  MacCrone was 25 seconds behind Evans in his first competitive outing in a left hand drive car.  In third place, a further 54 seconds behind was John Boyd in his Fiesta ST.  The 22 year old's car had undergone a full rebuild since his roll on Round 1 of the championship and had only just been completed in the week leading up to the event.  Just three seconds behind Boyd on stage one was 18-year-old Fiesta R2 driver Peter Taylor.  Taylor and co-driver Andy Richardson had taken part in the Border Counties Rally in the previous week as a shakedown for the Welshpool based event and were pleased with their early showing.  Tom Watson and Paul Morris were fifth on stage one; their ST sporting a new livery for the Bulldog featuring backing from Nicky Grist Motorsport.   

Sweet Lamb claimed the first FST casualty of the day, Peter Taylor suffered a broken drive shaft at the famous water splash in the spectator area and was unable to continue.  MacCrone also hit trouble in stage two, hitting a rock and puncturing the left front tyre, the Isle of Mull based driver had further drama when the car fell off the jack when he and co-driver Stuart Louden were changing the wheel, the whole incident costing them over twelve minutes and with it any chance of victory on their debut. , Evans managed to steer clear of trouble and was in a class of his own through Sweet Lamb.  The flying Welshman was one minute 26seconds in front of Boyd to lead the Scotsman by over two minutes as the crews returned to service for the first time.  Watson was improving on his earlier pace and posted a time just twelve seconds behind Boyd and was promoted to third at first service thanks to the troubles of Taylor and MacCrone.  

As the crews returned to service for the first time they all had been impressed by the legendary stages and couldn't wait to get a second run through.  With an exceptional lead it was going to be hard work for Boyd or Watson to catch Evans but with only one third of the mileage completed all was not lost.  MacCrone had even more work to do, but was pleased with his pace prior to the puncture and was keen to show what he could do over the remaining stages.  

Despite a healthy lead Evans chose to push on his second run through Myherin, improving by 38 seconds on his earlier time and once again posting the fastest time of the FST runners.  MacCrone also improved taking 26 seconds off his stage one time as he got more closely acquainted with his new machine.  Boyd was up next and with his confidence growing having already been through the stage once shaved over 35 seconds from his first earlier effort.  Welshman Tom Watson was the person with the biggest improvement through Myherin - taking a full 1minute, 10s off his earlier time and making amendments to his pacenotes at every opportunity.  

Sweet Lamb once again proved to be a nemesis of the FST crews.  After his big push on SS3, it was 19-year-old Welshman Tom Watson who hit trouble, loosing a wheel from his ST and was unable to continue.  .  Evans made it four stage wins in four stages on the final run through Sweet Lamb and was the only FST driver to get under the 20 minute mark in his Gwyndaf Evans Motors prepared Fiesta ST.  John MacCrone and Stuart Louden had a much better run through Sweet Lamb this time round and posted a time 30 seconds behind Evans with fellow Scotsman John Boyd a further 50 seconds behind the 2009 Scottish Junior Champion.  Boyd was the third Fiesta driver to experience problems in Sweet Lamb and had to perform a minor roadside repair to a rear hub at the end of the stage.  

Someone seemed not to have mentioned to Elfyn Evans that he had a 5-minute lead as he continued to extend his lead through stages five and six.  MacCrone was once again Evans' closest challenger and was only five seconds behind in the Pallet Force Distribution backed car though SS5, Big Ray.  MacCrone was also a close second to Evans on stage six, Dyfi Main, leaving the Isle or Mull based youngster to ponder what might have been had his progress not be hampered by the puncture on stage two.   With his service crew giving the car a clean bill of health in final service John Boyd was able to continue into the final loop of stages and maintain his comfortable second place.   

Despite their sizeable advantage Evans and Edwards continued to push in the final two stages Pantperthog and Gartheiniog not only increasing his lead in the FST to eight minutes 23 seconds but also climbing to an impressive 9th overall in the International rally standings.  John Boyd and Craig Wallace brought their Border Toyota backed Fiesta ST home in a comfortable 2nd six minutes ten seconds ahead of the fast finishing pair of John MacCrone and Stuart Louden who had an excellent debut in the Fiesta R2 despite the problems on stage two.   

It was Evans who was the first to cross the finish ramp at the Welshpool Livestock Market Rally HQ and increase his championship lead to seven points over new second placeman Boyd.  MacCrone was pleased with his debut in the R2 and was happy to get some more miles under his belt in a still unfamiliar car.  

As well as his convincing win in the Fiesta SportTrophy Evans also claimed first front wheel drive car in the Bulldog International Rally of North Wales, he was the Castrol Hard Charger for gaining fastest stage times on each and every stage and as the final accolade gained the coveted Pirelli Star Driver nomination for the event.  

The 2010 Kick Energy Fiesta SportTrophy Championship heads North next to Carlisle for Round 3, the Pirelli International Rally on Saturday 24 April 2010.  Elfyn Evans will looking to take his hat trick of Fiesta SportTrophy 2010 victories but his rivals will be out to make sure he doesn't have things all his own way.  

Event Winner Elfyn Evans said:
  "It's always special to win your home event but being nominated for the Pirelli Star Driver award has made it even more so.  I hope to continue to improve over the year and work towards the Pirelli Star Driver shootout."  

Double Delight for Cunningham and Millener!

Posted: March 29, 2010 9:45 PM

The all new pairing for 2010 Jonathan Cunningham (26) [Galway, Ireland] and Richard Millener (25) [Workington, UK] have continued their excellent start to the season by taking another outright victory on the second round of the Fiesta SportChallenge at the Bulldog Rally. Cunningham and Millener took the top podium place over one minute ahead of second placed FSC finishers Richard Parry Jones and Sara Price. The win sees the duo increase their strong points hold at the top of the series standings. As well as taking victory in the fiercely competitive one make series they also made a great start to their BRC Challenge series campaign by taking third overall and a second podium position all in one day!

The Bulldog Challenge rally based at the new Welshpool livestock market compromised of five stages using some of the most famous tests in UK rallying. The first test of the day was the 17 miles of Sweet Lamb. With neither Cunningham or Millener having sat in a rally car since the opening round of the Malcolm Wilson rally two weeks ago they always knew that the first long test would be tough to drive at the frontrunners pace, but knowing how crucial it was to be fast out of the box they did what they could and ended the test fastest Fiesta by 28 seconds – a time they were very happy with. At the stage finish they were to hear the news of the unfortunate retirement of one of their strongest rivals, Damien Smith who had slid wide and was unable to continue. Despite a strong drive against the Fiesta competitors, the BRC challenge crew of Julian Wilkes and Will Rutherford had opened up a 53 second lead over Cunningham and Millener, an incredible time which would help Wilkes take the BRC Challenge victory.

After a visit to service, and advice from the I-Cars motorsport team who had generously offered to help service for the crew, Cunningham opted to make some setup changes as well as fitting some brand new Pirelli’s in the hope of being able to increase his speed during the afternoon tests.

The afternoon loop consisted of four tough stages with no service or assistance and it would therefore be a case of careful but fast driving to ensure that they would be able to make it back to the Welshpool finish. Cunningham and Millener would go on to set top three stage times for the remainder of the tests and be the fastest Fiesta SportChallenge crew on every stage during the event.

The afternoon tests took in some of the fastest gravel roads the pairing had ever driven on, at times the Fiesta ST was on the limiter and just would not go any quicker. With speed there are always some “moments” and the pairing had a couple of near calls but some excellent driving from Cunningham kept the pair on the stages whilst allowing them to continually learn the limits of the car.

Despite the increased pace in the afternoon the duo could not match Wilkes but did take a second fastest time on the sixth stage of the event and are happy that they will be able to take the fight to the top BRC challenge crews on the next round of the series, the Pirelli Challenge Rally.

With no other dramas to report the pairing returned to Welshpool to spray the champagne and reflect on what has been another incredibly successful weekend.

Driver Jonathan Cunningham said:
“Coming into the event I never expected to be leaving as Fiesta SportChallenge winner again! I am extremely happy with how it all turned out. It was a shame that Damien [Smith] retired early on but the pace of Julian [Wilkes] and Callum [Black] kept me honest and I really hope to be able to take the fight to them on the next round. My thoughts now turn to preparation for the Circuit of Kerry where I will begin my Irish Junior Championship campaign. I can’ wait to get back out competing!”

Navigator Richard Millener said:
“Before the event me and Jonathan were able to discuss our plans for the year with our boss, Malcolm Wilson, he gave us some great advice and taking on board his words we decided that our main goal for the event would be to win the Fiesta part of the rally. To complete our aim was a great feeling and as a result we now have a strong lead in the series. We both hope we can increase our pace further now and try and take our first BRC Challenge victory at the Pirelli Rally in a month’s time!”

Fuel Pressure Problems puts pay to Breen's BRC Opener (Event Report)

Posted: March 29, 2010 9:27 PM

Craig and Co Driver Gareth Roberts in their new “Kick Energy” Ford Fiesta S2000 suffered hard luck as a fuel line ruptured after only two stages bringing a premature end to their Bulldog International Rally the opening round of the MSA British Rally Championship. As Craig returned to the Welshpool livestock Market Rally Service Area the disappointment was clearly visible. “This was the first time the car has given us any type of mechanical problem and to have to retire because of something as simple as a fuel line makes it very hard, but that’s rallying. We must now pick ourselves up and focus on the Circuit of Ireland next weekend. In some ways it’s good to have our next event as close as we will be back on the stages within a week. As far as the BRC is concerned we must now look ahead to the Pirelli International in a few weeks time”.

The opening round of the new season got under way in the border town of Welshpool, Powys as the MSA British Rally Championship welcomed new championship sponsors “Dulux Trade” to the Bulldog International Rally. Eight stages laid ahead of the thirty eight strong international field as they set out on a new season in the United Kingdoms premier rallying series. Special stage names like Myherin (25.6 Kms) and Sweet Lamb (27.2 Kms) bring shivers to the spine of any rally driver and these set the scene for the opening loop as the competitors began a new year. After returning to the Welshpool livestock Market for a thirty minute service the crews would repeat these monster stages completing the morning’s tests. In the afternoon the competitors moved to stage five “Big Ray” (8kms) then to “Dyfi Main” (14.4 Kms) for stage six. The penultimate stage would see the cars enter the 11.2 Kms of Pantperthog. The final test, the 20.8 Kms of Gartheiniog would bring the curtain down on the 2010 Bulldog.

Craig and Gareth were seeded at number five and completed a successful shakedown on Thursday, with Craig stating the stage was a little rougher than the actual event stages but was very happy with his setup. Friday was designated to recce and documentation. This left the action to start on Saturday morning with the first car entering Myherin 1 just after 8 am. Reigning BRC championship Keith Cronin set the benchmark stopping the clocks with a time of 15:15.8 in the Subaru Impreza N15. Craig followed Keith in second place with a time of 15:48.00; Gwyndaf Evans completed the top three with 15:54.4 but complained of gearbox problems even at this early stage. On to stage two with the first run over Sweet Lamb and again Cronin was quickest setting 17:48.7 for the 27.2 Kms. Craig picked up his pace and was just twelve seconds down. Alastair Fisher partnered by Rory Kennedy moved into third place by virtue of Gwyndaf’s gearbox problems leaving him with only 2nd and 4th gears by the end of the stage. This also elevated Dave Weston Jnr to fourth overall with Evans now in fifth. The Kick Energy service crew were getting prepared for the first service of the day when a phone call came through from Craig stating he had a fuel problem with the car. He was pulled in to a lay-by and could get a strong smell of fuel but the car had cut out. He spent the following 20 minutes trying everything he could to restart the Fiesta with on result. Evans also suffered an early exit as his ailing gearbox cried enough as he left the time control at the end of the second stage. Back in Welshpool at service Cronin reported a great run on the opening stages. “I kept it clean and tidy and tried not to let the car run wide on to the loose. On the 2nd stage I lost a few seconds as I feel I’m braking a little early, but I’m very happy with my start”. On the rerun over Myherin Alastair Fisher claimed his first fastest time of the championship by setting 15:36.3, he was followed by Dave Weston with Cronin in third. At this point Cronin had a comfortable lead of 41 seconds on Fisher. Fisher was again fastest on Sweet Lamb 2 and Cronin’s lead was cut to 29.6 seconds. In second service Cronin said he backed off over stages three and four. Fisher on the other hand said “I was very committed; we made a few amendments to the notes on the first run through as the roads had dried out quite well and this paid off”.

Cronin in the TEG Sport Impreza raised the bar again on stages five and six to pull away from the field. The Cork man was 5.7 seconds faster than Dave Weston on five and stage six (Dyfi Main) Cronin was nine ahead of Jonny Greer with Adam Gould in second. It was on this stage that Alastair Fisher’s day came to an end with a damaged transmission. With only two remaining stages Cronin now had a lead of 1minute and 19 seconds over Dave Weston Jnr with Adam Gould a further 26.4 back in third. Cronin consolidated the rally win by setting two fastest times over the final stages to land his first victory of the new season by more than two minutes.

The event that promised so much for Craig and the team ended with retirement but mechanical problems can hit at any time. The team now looks forward to the next event in the championship, the Pirelli International Rally on the 23rd and 24th of April. Before that however there’s the small matter of the Circuit of Ireland next weekend as the Citroën Irish Tarmac Rally Championship roars back into action.

Cronin repeats Bulldog win

Posted: March 29, 2010 9:25 PM

Keith Cronin and Barry McNulty took a fine win on the opening round of the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship, the Bulldog International Rally North Wales this weekend.

The reigning British Rally Champion has a 100% record of victory on the event having won in Wales last year and becomes the first of the Pirelli Star Driver winners to take outright event honours.

“We were a bit nervous coming into the event as there was a great deal expected of us,” said Cronin, “But we stuck to our plan and I’m obviously delighted to make such a good start to the championship season.”

Their victory in the Impreza coupled with a great fourth place from Pirelli TEG Sport team mates Euan Thorburn and Paul Beaton, means that the Lancashire based outfit also start the season in an excellent position to defend their British Teams Rally Championship title.

The expected charge from last year’s Fiesta Sport Trophy Champions Craig Breen and Gareth Roberts was put to an end after the youngster’s Fiesta S2000 stopped after two stages. Gwyndaf Evans and Chris Patterson also failed to make it back to the first service with transmission problems, leaving Alastair Fisher and Rory Kennedy to take over second spot.

But the County Tyrone driver’s excellent drive was also cut short near the end of the day when differential failure led to a blown clutch and retirement too.

After a perfect build up to the season, winning the Border Counties Rally, Dave Weston Junior and Ieuan Thomas held their nerve to eventually take the runners-up spot, their Ramsport Impreza running faultlessly throughout the 100 mile event.

Third place went to Adam Gould and Craig Drew in an ex-Higgins Impreza, but they nearly didn’t make it to the start after punching a strut through the top mount on the shakedown. Running with practically no spares, the outgoing Pirelli Star Driver

In the Mitsubishi Evolution Ralliart Challenge, Jonny Greer and Dai Roberts took top spot in their Evo 9, missing fourth place on the event by just over seventeen seconds. The pair had an up and down event, a puncture costing time in he second loop but finishing strongly with a string of top three times.

Elfyn Evans and Andrew Edwards set some stunning times in their Fiesta ST to not only win the Fiesta SportTrophy section of the event and the Rally 3 class, but take the all-important Pirelli Star Driver yellow jersey on home turf.

Taking victory in the Citroën Racing Trophy and outright Rally 2 honours were Mark Donnelly and Paddy Robinson after a great day for the pair in their new steed.

Also taking a class win, that of Rally 1, as well as a deserved and crushing victory in the Swift Sport Cup, were Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship newcomers Mikko Pajunen and Janne Perala. The Finnish duo not only finished their first Rally North Wales, but posted some excellent times and ended the day 17th overall in the little Swift.

Action from the top runners on Bulldog Rally North Wales can be seen on Sky Sports this Monday night, but before that on Sunday is a chance to see the season preview programme again.

PIRELLI TEG SPORT TRIUMPHANT ON BULLDOG

Posted: March 29, 2010 9:23 PM

The Pirelli TEG Sport Rally Team scored a dominant victory on the opening round of the 2010 Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship when reigning champion Keith Cronin won the Bulldog International Rally of North Wales convincingly and a total of three TEG Sport cars finished the gruelling rally inside the top four overall, with Adam Gould third and Euan Thorburn fourth for the defending MSA British Rally Teams Champions.

The 23-year-old 2009 British Rally Champion and winner of the Pirelli Star Driver shoot-out last year, Cronin, along with new co driver Barry McNulty, were making their competitive debut for the Carnforth-based team at the opening round of the 2010 series and the pair stamped their authority from the word go with a blistering time on the opening 16 miles of Myherin. Going 22 seconds faster than anyone else gave the County Cork driver a lead he would maintain until the end, taking six fastest stages times out of the eight stages during the day to return to Welshpool victorious for the second year in a row.

23-year-old Scottish Group N Champion Euan Thorburn from Duns along with co driver Paul Beaton enjoyed a very strong run, narrowly missing out on the final podium position after recovering from a broken driveshaft early in the event. Apart from the second test, where he was nursing the damaged component, Thorburn consistently ran inside the top five all day long and returned to the finish a mere 15 seconds off the podium.

TEG Sport associate drivers had mixed fortunes on the event as Adam Gould also battled well to claim the final podium placing whilst Alan Cookson retired with a broken driveshaft at half distance.

The victory heralded the first International win for the latest shape Subaru Impreza S15 rally car on British soil proving that the Subaru is more than adequate as a title contender.

The fantastic result is also a historic moment for TEG Sport as it also signals the very first International rally victory on gravel for the team.

Keith Cronin:
"I am very pleased with how today has gone. We aimed for a good clean run in the morning and ended up leading! We made a few small set up changes during the day but nothing major, the car has been fantastic and full credit to the team for giving me the tools to defend my 2009 title."

Euan Thorburn:
"Today was very much about confidence building. I was pretty rusty this morning and this was only my third time writing my own pacenotes so there is a bit of refining still to do. The car was great, we adjusted a few things as the day progressed and are very pleased with our performance."

Lynn Newby - TEG Sport:
"To have three of our cars in the top four is incredible! Keith drove an amazing rally, finding the perfect balance between pace and mechanical sympathy. Euan drove a nice and controlled event and if it wasn't for the damaged driveshaft in the morning he would most certainly have been on the podium. Adam, bless him, has worked especially hard in the run up to this event and so to finish third after all of his effort is a fine reward and hard luck to Alan today, he's not had much luck lately."

The next round of the Dulux Trade British Rally Championship takes place on 23/24th April with the Pirelli International Rally based in Carlisle.

COOKSON UPBEAT DESPITE BULLDOG RETIREMENT

Posted: March 29, 2010 9:14 PM

Despite retiring from the opening round of the 2010 Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship, Devon-based Alan Cookson and co-driver Julian Wilkinson remained upbeat about their performance on the Bulldog International Rally of North Wales today prior to retiring on SS4 of the eight stage event with transmission problems.

Tackling the British Rally Championship for the first time, the pair took time to adjust to a left hand drive TEG Sport-built Subaru Impreza N15 and with this being their first competitive gravel rally where they had the opportunity to recce the stages beforehand, both Cookson from Saltash and Wilkinson from Tunbridge Wells were brimming with confidence.

Despite the opening stage being greasy, Alan was happy with his run and on the second test, he was pleased to take time out of the more seasoned campaigners. However a driveshaft problem during the third stage soon saw the pair destined for retirement one stage later on the Welshpool-based event.

Alan said:
"Although we retired from the rally, I must say I am very pleased with how the day went! I have never felt so confident with a car before. This is a proper piece of kit, it does exactly what I want it to and we loved every moment of those first few stages! I cannot wait for the Pirelli International Rally now."

Julian added:
"Smiles per miles must sum up today! Both Alan and I really enjoyed the few stages that we did. The car was great, we had so much confidence in our notes and it seemed to reflect in our performance. I am disappointed not to finish for our sponsors but at least we've seen that we are not that far off the pace."

The crew's famous 'cow liveried' car enjoys backing from Wiseman Dairies, Kick Energy, SPAR, Cuisine de France, Olverelectrical.com, Uno Retail Solutions, Speedline Wheels, Schroth and Cobra Seats.

The next round of the Dulux Trade British Rally Championship takes place on 23/24th April with the Pirelli International Rally based in Carlisle.

CRONIN CRUISES TO BULLDOG VICTORY

Posted: March 29, 2010 8:42 PM

Ireland's Keith Cronin and co-driver Barry McNulty stormed to victory on today's Bulldog International Rally of North Wales which comprised the opening round of the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship.

The reigning Champion was quickest through five of the eight special stages to claim an emphatic win by over two minutes and beamed at the finish at the new Welshpool Livestock Market: "This has been one of the hardest rallies I have ever won. Trying to pick a pace was very difficult as it is easier when you are fighting for the lead. The car was faultless all day and I am delighted."

Scotsman Dave Weston Jnr with Ieuan Thomas on the notes claimed an impressive second place overall despite a puncture at the end of SS3. The youngster finished with a 26 second advantage over his nearest rival, Adam Gould.

Gould, co-driven by Craig Drew, had a frantic week in the build up to the rally to raise the budget and ensure his Subaru Impreza was ready to start the event. The Bristol driver admitted to being unprepared in the build up to the weekend but drove a faultless rally to claim third place, 15 seconds ahead of Euan Thorburn.

Thorburn and co-driver Paul Beaton brought their Subaru Impreza to the finish, 17 seconds ahead of Ulsterman Jonny Greer and co-driver Dai Roberts. Greer struggled to get into a rhythm in the earlier stages of the rally, and then a puncture through SS3 which in turn resulted in a broken wire affecting the differential on the Mitsubishi Lancer dropped him down the order early on.

Notable retirements were Gwyndaf Evans whose Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10 stopped after SS2 with gearbox problems and Craig Breen's Fiesta S2000 came to a halt on the road section on the way into first service. Alastair Fisher retired after SS6 with transmission failure on his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.

The event also made up round one of the Dunlop WONAGO.com MSA British Historic Rally Championship.

Category 1 was claimed by Jonathan Gale and co-driver James Whittaker in their Sunbeam Tiger. They finished 37 seconds ahead of the Porsche 911 of Dessie Nutt and Geraldine McBride. Category 2 was won by Jeremy Easson and Alun Cook who crossed the finish ramp 36 seconds ahead of Andrew Haddon and Mark Crisp. Nick Elliott and Dave Price claimed victory in Category 3, bringing their Ford Escort home 25 seconds ahead of Julian Reynolds and Ian Oakley.

The BRC Challenge was won by Julian Wilkes and Will Rutherford who finished the event 21 seconds ahead of Callum Black and Paul Wakley. Jonathan Cunningham and co-driver Richard Millener brought their Ford Fiesta ST back to the finish in third place, finishing a further 41 seconds adrift.

The Bulldog National Rally was won by Alex Allingham and Mark Glennerster who finished a mere five seconds ahead of Paul Davy and Roger Allan. Paul Walker and Mark Lewis claimed the final podium place, finishing a further 45 behind Davy.

Mike Tomkinson and Shaun Whitehurst won the Bulldog Clubman section of the event, bringing their Subaru Impreza home 17 seconds ahead of Paul Lomas and Matthew Nicholas. Neville Jones and Ian Capwell crossed the finish ramp a further 32 seconds adrift.

Photos

Posted: March 29, 2010 8:19 PM



Mark Donnelly/Paddy Robinson win R2 Class
Photo: Podge Newe

Full Results & Times

Posted: March 29, 2010 8:18 PM

1 Keith Cronin/Barry McNulty (Subaru Impreza N15) 1:40:03.0 2 Dave Weston Jnr/Ieuan Thomas (Subaru Impreza N16) 1:42:04.7 3 Adam Gould/Craig Drew (Subaru Impreza N11) 1:42:31.6 4 Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton (Subaru Impreza N15) 1:42:47.1 5 Jonathan Greer/Dai Roberts (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) 1:43:04.5 6 Darren Gass/Neil Shanks (Subaru Impreza N16) 1:44:59.5 7 Jason Pritchard/Robbie Durant (Subaru Impreza N15) 1:45:28.8 8 Daniel Sigurdarson/Asta Sigurdardottir (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10) 1:46:00.4 9 Elfyn Evans/Andrew Edwards (Ford Fiesta ST) 1:50:30.5 10 Robert Swann/Darren Garrod (Subaru Impreza N14) 1:50:47.8

Leaders After: SS1-8 Keith Cronin/Barry McNulty (Subaru Impreza N15)

Stage Winners:
SS1 Keith Cronin/Barry McNulty (Subaru Impreza N15)
SS2 Keith Cronin/Barry McNulty (Subaru Impreza N15)
SS3 Alastair Fisher/Rory Kennedy (Mitsubishi Lancer Lancer Evo 9)
SS4 Alastair Fisher/Rory Kennedy (Mitsubishi Lancer Lancer Evo 9)
SS5 Keith Cronin/Barry McNulty (Subaru Impreza N15)
SS6 Keith Cronin/Barry McNulty (Subaru Impreza N15)
SS7 Keith Cronin/Barry McNulty (Subaru Impreza N15)
SS8 Keith Cronin/Barry McNulty (Subaru Impreza N15)

Fiesta SportTrophy competitors out to tame the Bulldog

Posted: March 26, 2010 5:05 PM

Saturday 27 March will see the 2010 Kick Energy Fiesta SportTrophy (FST) UK and Fiesta SportChallenge (FSC) championships head to North Wales for Round 2 of the championship.  FST competitors will tackle the first round of the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship (BRC), the Bulldog International Rally of North Wales.  The event marks the start of the link up between the Fiesta SportTrophy and the BRC, which will see FST competitors support the full British Rally Championship.  The first round of the BRC Challenge (BRCC), the Bulldog Challenge Rally, plays host to FSC competitors and marks the start of the FSC link up with the BRCC.  The FSC championship will be decided over the first five rounds of the BRCC with competitors opting to compete on either the Manx or the Ulster Rally.  

The Bulldog Rally has provided crews with the chance to compete on some of the best stages in the UK over its 50-year history and 2010 is no exception.  With 100 stage miles, including two runs through the legendary Myherin and Sweet Lamb stages¸ both of which have featured in Wales Rally GB in the recent past, FST competitors will experience the best stages that North Wales has to offer.  FSC competitors won't be left out either, with 50 stage miles through North Wales' finest stages..  

13 Fiestas will cross the start ramp in Welshpool with six drivers competing in the FST and seven in the FSC.  Elfyn Evans made a winning return to the Fiesta SportTrophy on the opening event, the Malcolm Wilson Rally.  Evans and co-driver Andrew Edwards will be hoping to maintain their championship lead and put their local knowledge to good use on their home event.  Irishman Matthew Cathcart finished a close second on his FST debut on the Malcolm Wilson Rally, with the 18-year-old pushing Evans hard throughout the rally despite limited testing in the Fiesta R2 prior to the event.   

19-year-old Welshman Tom Watson and co-driver Paul Morris made a steady start on the Malcolm Wilson Rally to finish in third position.  Watson will be out to build on this performance on the Bulldog and, having competed on the event in 2009, will know what to expect when the crews head for the first stage in Myherin.  John Boyd and new co-driver Craig Wallace had a torrid time on Round 1 but still managed to make it to the finish in fourth position despite rolling the car on SS2 and suffering from an intermittent engine problem.  Boyd will be looking to kick start his championship charge on Round 2 and put the problems from the Malcolm Wilson Rally behind him.   

Jedburgh based 18 year-old Peter Taylor was another driver who endured a tough start to the championship on the Malcolm Wilson Rally.  Taylor struggled with an electrical misfire throughout the event.  Taylor and co-driver Andy Richardson will be hoping for some better luck on the Bulldog Rally.  

2009 Scottish Junior Rally Champion John MacCrone makes his debut in the FST championship on the Bulldog Rally, driving the Rally Team Scotland prepared Fiesta R2.  The 20-year-old apprentice joiner from the Isle of Mull won three championships in 2009 and will be looking to repeat that success when he gets his 2010 campaign underway next weekend.  

Workington-based crew Jonny Cunningham and Richard Millener only put together a deal to compete on opening round of the Fiesta SportChallenge a week before the event.  This didn't stop them from taking a comfortable victory on their home event, a result they will be hoping to repeat in North Wales.  Damien Smith, 28 from Silsden, and co-driver Frazer Hutchinson made an impressive start to their debut season in the Fiesta ST with second on the Malcolm Wilson Rally.  The pairing will be out to go one better on the Bulldog Rally having posted two fastest stage times on the Cumbrian event.   

From the seven crews competing in the FSC, two count the Bulldog Rally as their home event.  John Pritchard and co-driver Chris Williams made a steady start on Round 1 finishing third with only a single day's testing prior to the event.  They will be hoping to emulate the success that Matt Edwards had driving the same car on the Bulldog Rally in 2009 where he won the FST and BRC Challenge event.  After sitting out the 2009 season, Richard Parry-Jones and co-driver Sara Price made a welcome return to competition in their Gwyndaf Evans Motors prepared Fiesta ST.  After initially struggling to get into a rhythm on the snow-covered stages, Parry-Jones recovered to eventually finished fourth on Round 1.  

After competing on several national events in 2009, 20-year-old Alex Laffey from Market Harborough, made his FSC debut on the Malcolm Wilson Rally.  Laffey and co-driver Daniel Swainbank put in a measured performance to claim fifth and their stage times were consistently improving over the duration of the rally.  Dan O'Brien (17) from St Albans and Will Rogers also made a strong debut in the championship on Round 1 and also showed consistent improvement over the course of the event.  Dan will be looking to continue this trend on the Bulldog, on what will be only his third event since graduating from Junior Rallycross.  Jamie Brown (18) from Norwich was pleased to make it to the finish on the opening round of the championship having suffered so much bad luck during the 2009 season.  Brown and co-driver Craig Burgess will be looking to build on this at round two and start to challenge further up the order.  

The Bulldog Rally also marks the start of the 2010 FST Dealer Cup.  The competition allows drivers to represent their local Ford dealer ship and is open to drivers in both the Fiesta SportTrophy and Fiesta SportChallenge.  The results for the Dealer Cup will be taken at the end of the Challenge event.  The winning Ford dealer will win a guided tour around M-Sport's Dovenby headquarters, home of the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team.   

The 2010 Fiesta SportTrophy UK championship has a £1,850 prize fund at each round and is guaranteed down to the fifth place finisher.  The Fiesta SportChallenge also has a guaranteed prize fund for the top three finishers who share £850.   

Championship partners Pirelli will once again be supporting the championship and with drivers from the Fiesta SportTrophy section of the series eligible for nomination to the Pirelli Star Driver programme - competition will once again be hotly contested.

Fine outlook for Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship

Posted: March 26, 2010 4:42 PM

The opening round of the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship will be the first to benefit from a bespoke weather forecasting service from Meteorological Services.

The company has created a website specifically for the championship and is offering dedicated weather forecasts in the week immediately preceding each of the six rounds centred on the events’ Rally HQ town.

As the week preceding the rally progresses, the reports are refined so that teams, organisers and spectators can plan for the weather they might encounter, particularly important for crews on the three asphalt events where tyre choice is critical.

The basic online report covers the whole week with in-detail reports for Friday and Saturday of rally weekend. The forecast area extends around the host town by forty miles, encompassing the majority of stages on all six events with a written description accompanying specific information including air temperature, wind speed and direction and the all important chance of precipitation.

To access this information, which comes in a printable Word document format, simply click on the big red “WEATHER” button on

LEMBIT OPIK MP TO PRESENT AWARDS ON BULLDOG RALLY NORTH WALES

Posted: March 26, 2010 9:12 AM

The well known and popular Liberal Democratic Member of Parliament for Montgomeryshire, Lembit Opik, will be visiting the Bulldog Rally of North Wales and present awards to the winning crews.

Originally from Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland, Lembit is no stranger to exciting action sports as in 1998 he had a near fatal paragliding accident when he broke his back in 12 places, as well as his ribs, sternum and jaw. Despite this accident Lembit continues with his interest in aviation. He is also a huge motorcycle fan and has a keen interest in motorsport in general.

Dilys Trevethick, Bulldog Rally Media Manager, said: "Lembit is something of a celebrity MP and we are delighted that he has agreed to come and present the awards. I feel sure the winning drivers, whatever their political persuasion, will be pleased to have photographs taken showing them receiving an award from someone their non-rallying friends will instantly recognise when they see the picture sitting on a sideboard or hanging on an office wall. Also, given the social and environmental issues which might pose a threat to our sport in the future, we welcome the opportunity to show an MP what rallying is all about."

Alastair Prepares for British Rally Championship Challenge

Posted: March 25, 2010 12:37 PM

For Team UK Member Alastair Fisher, the 2010 rally season is one he is relishing. Having finished third in the British Rally Championship last year, the Co. Tyrone driver is returning to the British series with his familiar Evo 9 and the experience of his first season in a Group N car under his belt.
“We have retained the Group N Mitsubishi Evo 9 we used last season, but it’s been extensively rebuilt by Gerry McGarrity Motorsport over the winter, and I am also pleased that Rory Kennedy will once again be in the co-driver’s seat for the 2010 season.”

The Irish Tarmac Championship has already kicked things of in style for Alastair with a fine fourth place overall finish and first Group N car home on the Galway International Rally.

Although the forests of Wales will be a different challenge on the Bulldog, Alastair is looking forward to the event.
“The Bulldog rally last year was actually my first rally in a four wheel drive car, but we have gained a lot more experience since then, and we carried out about 40 miles of testing last week which helped me fine tune some new settings into the car. This season is going to be very competitive but I am really looking forward to the BRC opener.”

Alastair has benefitted from a training session with the new Team UK scheme.
“I had a good chat with Mark Higgins at the first session regarding the BRC and spent two days at the Porsche driving centre at Silverstone, where I had a fitness assessment and picked up some interesting facts regarding the developments of rally safety from an FIA safety delegate. It all helps with your build-up for the season ahead and it puts you in the correct mind set.”

Alastair is pleased to announce that he has gained additional support from Revolution Wheels, DMS Suspension, G.R White & Son Electrical and Euro M-Sport as well as continued backing from Drumhoney Holiday Park and Herrons Country Fried Chicken for the season ahead.

Saturday marks the start of the BRC with the Bulldog International Rally were Alastair is seeded at No.7 and stiff opposition is expected from Irish crews alone, with reigning BRC Champion Keith Cronin now Pirelli Subaru mounted, Jonny Greer in his familiar Evo 9, and Craig Breen in his Super 2000 Fiesta. With a mix of other top crews the BRC is still a big proving ground for rallying talent.

Cunningham and Millener Prepare for the Bulldog

Posted: March 24, 2010 12:06 PM

After making a perfect start to their 2010 season by winning the opening round of the Fiesta SportChallenge at the Malcolm Wilson Rally only two weeks ago, the new pairing of Jonathan Cunningham (26) and Richard Millener (25) will hope to continue their successful run when they compete on the Bulldog Challenge Rally next weekend. The North Wales based event will run from the all new Welshpool Livestock market and forms not only the second round of the highly competitive Fiesta SportTrophy series but also the first round of the British Rally Championship Challenge series.

Cunningham, a shell fabricator by day at M-Sport, responsible for building the body shell’s for M-Sport’s new Fiesta S2000 will again be partnered by Millener who also works for M-Sport where he co-ordinate’s customer sales for the Fiesta S2000. The pairing will once again hire the same Fiesta ST that they used on the opening round of the year from preparation specialists I-Cars Motorsport.

With a lack of time to prepare for the Malcolm Wilson due to the late decision to compete in the series, the crew have used the extra preparation time for this event to their best ability and are spending as much time as possible working on the organisers notes to help fine-tune them to exactly suit Cunningham’s driving style. This extra work will hopefully allow the crew to find increased pace from their first round performance and take a second win in the championship.

The event will also see the duo start their attack on the second championship they will be competing in during 2010, The British Rally Championship Challenge series. This championship is the support series for the Dulux Trade British Rally Championship and consists of six rounds offering a more clubman friendly smaller mileage event but with all the perks of the main BRC series. With a healthy field of competitive entries Cunningham and Millener will aim to not only finish well in the FSC but also take a maximum points haul on the BRCC event.

Since the inception of the team only a week before the first round Cunningham and Millener have received some great media coverage and an overwhelming response of good luck messages from not only friends and families but also fellow competitors, both of the crew are incredibly thankful of their new followers and hope to gain more as the season progresses!

The Bulldog Rally takes place on some of the most famous stages in the UK, utilising forest tests that are normally found on the final leg of the FIA World Rally Championship, Wales Rally GB. The day event begins around 11am for Cunningham and Millener and if all goes to plan they will be crossing the finish ramp around 6pm that day.

Driver Jonathan Cunningham said:
“After the rush to get ready for the first round of the series I am feeling more confident with being able to prepare properly for this event which will hopefully allow me to increase my speed! The first round was a dream start to the season for me and I hope to continue this next weekend, however with tough competition entered it’s not going to be a simple task.”

Navigator Richard Millener said:
“It was a great way to start the season winning what is effectively now my home event. I really enjoyed being back in a competitive car and being able to spray the champagne was even better! This round we again hope to perform well and being the first round of the BRCC will mean an even greater on event battle. I will also be up against an old friend Julian Wilkes (who Millener use to navigate for) and his navigator Will Rutherford which should make the bid for the BRCC win even more interesting and fun, I’m really looking forward to the event.”

2010 Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship season kick-off imminent

Posted: March 23, 2010 2:15 PM

With Dulux Trade in place as the British Rally Championship’s new title sponsor for an initial two year term, the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship approaches the first round this weekend, Bulldog International Rally North Wales, ready for an epic battle on the stages.

It is certain that the 2010 Dulux Trade BRC will be a highly competitive, close fought and exciting spectacle. Why? Because a young Irishman called Keith Cronin made last season one for the history books, taking victory at his first attempt.

The 23 year old from West Cork pitted his skills against not only triple champion Mark Higgins and reigning champion Guy Wilks, but a wealth of talented drivers both young and not so young. The overriding feel of the championship though, is that of youth, with the average age of drivers in 2009 and 2010 only 26 years.

Three official two-car teams and a near 50/50 split of two wheel and four wheel drive cars will make a great spectacle in the Welsh forests, as not only the overall title, but four one-make championships are played out in the British Isles’ premier rally championship.

The International status of the championship is buoyed by competitors from all over the World too, aside from representatives from all corners of the British Isles there are drivers from Ireland, Finland, Australia and South Africa.

Control Sunoco fuels and Pirelli tyres remain to help keep a level playing field, Pirelli committing to the Star Driver Scheme for a fourth year, offering a prize drive in the 2011 Dulux Trade BRC to the talented winner.

Sky Sports has signed a deal to cover the British Rally Championship for a further three years too, the Greenlight TV produced programmes broadcast on the Monday night immediately after each rally. This one hour programme will cover all the top action from the front of the field, carrying the stories from each round of the series. The remainder of the action will be covered in Rallyzone and Motorsport Mundial which go out before the following event.

DULUX TRADE MSA BRITISH TEAMS’ RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
Pirelli TEG Spot will not only return to defend their 2009 Teams title, but as winners of the contract to run the 2009 Pirelli Star Driver car, they boast the reigning British Rally Champion as their number one driver. Irishman Keith Cronin, this year co-driven by Barry McNulty, will pilot one of the Lancashire team’s Subaru Impreza N15 cars. Another young driver joining the team for the first time will be Scottish youngster Euan Thorburn and his new co-driver Paul Beaton.

2010 sees the return of JRM which will field two Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10s. The first will be driven by the only other BRC champion in the field, Gwyndaf Evans who has not won the series since 1996, but stands a real chance again this year at the tender age of 51. Chris Patterson will co-drive, no doubt passing on some of his experience to Daniel Sigurðarson’s sister Ásta Sigurðardottir who will co-drive the former Icelandic Rally Champion.

Ramsport joins the fray for the first time as a contender in the Teams’ Championship this year fielding two Imprezas. 2009’s fourth placed driver Dave Weston Junior with co-driver Ieuan Thomas will be joined by the 2007 Pirelli Star Driver Darren Gass, who returns to the championship with Neil Shanks alongside after a year’s break.

DULUX TRADE MSA BRITISH JUNIOR RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
Only drivers born after 1st January 1984 and driving two wheel drive cars are in with a chance of the prestigious MSA Gold flag, presented at the Royal Automobile Club in London. Last year’s champion Marty McCormack is off overseas this year trying his hand at the French Rally Championship, leaving the door wide open for a ruck of drivers to steal the Junior title.

PIRELLI STAR DRIVER COMPETITION
The concept of the Pirelli sponsored initiative is to assist talented drivers to progress and prove their potential, with a view to moving up in the sport. In 2007 the prize of a fully funded drive in the BRC was realised by 19 year old Darren Gass, following a rigorous selection process. 2008’s competition produced 21 year old Adam Gould who drove the door handles off his Clio to take his nomination on the Jim Clark Rally. The young Bristolian was impressive in the TEG Sport-run Pirelli car, narrowly missing out on a podium spot twice, but suffering a couple of high speed offs on his way.

The scheme, which continues in 2010, still allows any registered BRC driver, irrespective of class or nationality, to be eligible for the scheme. It will again choose one person from each of the six events to go forward to the end of season Pirelli Star Driver Shootout. A team of adjudicators will evaluate and nominate each candidate who will be presented with the Pirelli “Yellow Jersey” at the finish of the event.

In addition to this, the highest placed junior drivers in the three one make series’; the Fiesta Sport and Citroën Racing Trophies, the Swift Sport Cup and the overall winner of the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge will also take part in a final selection competition. The winner will secure a fully funded drive in the 2010 BRC in a car appropriate to their experience.

DULUX TRADE MSA BRITISH RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP CLASSES
The Rally 1, 2, 3 and 4 class structure continues for a fourth successive year. Rally 1 will contain the Swift Sport Cup and other production cars up to 1600cc while Rally 2 encompasses R2 cars in the Citroen and Fiesta series. Rally 3 includes turbo diesels and the Fiesta ST model as well as other production category two litre cars.

The Rally 4 class is where the four wheel drive machinery resides; Subaru and Mitsubishi being the mainstay. But there is still the option for Super 2000 screamers to compete for R4 and overall honours within the BRC, M-Sport’s Fiesta S2000 likely to feature this year at the hands of Craig Breen.

DULUX TRADE MSA BRITISH RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP DIESEL & PRIVATEER CUPS
Once again there will be opportunities for diesel cars to compete in the BRC, the competition in the Diesel Rally Cup likely to be between 2009 Champions Steve and Tony Graham in their Vauxhall and Irishman Fin McCaul’s BMW, although McCaul will miss the first round through business commitments.

The Privateers Cup rewards the highest placed driver not entered in a team, Keith Cronin taking the accolade in 2009. As he is a member of the Pirelli TEG Sport team in 2010, a new name will adorn the trophy at the end of season awards ceremony in October.

BULLDOG INTERNATIONAL RALLY OF NORTH WALES
After a baptism of fire as the BRC’s new opening round in 2009, Bulldog International Rally North Wales came up trumps, offering an excellent single day format in some of the country’s most iconic stages. The 2010 format means a new base for the International and Challenge events at the brand new multi million pound Welshpool Livestock Market.

The 100 stage mile event is packed into one day, starting at 7am on Saturday 27th March and finishing back at the Livestock Market podium at 6.30pm. Using some of the classic Welsh forestry stages like Sweet Lamb, Hafren, Dyfi and Gartheiniog, it will be a real test of crews' abilities.

JRM set for big push on BRC opener

Posted: March 23, 2010 11:30 AM

This weekend will see JRM begin an assault on this year’s Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship, when experienced Welshman and former British Champion Gwyndaf Evans re-joins the team for round one, the Bulldog International Rally of North Wales.

Gwyndaf and co-driver Chris Patterson will be reunited with the Group N (R4 - Production Class) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X they campaigned so impressively in the last two rounds of the 2009 BRC season, both on the asphalt of the Ulster Rally and the gravel forest roads of the Rally Yorkshire.

“I’m delighted to be back with JRM for the start of this season”, said Gwyndaf.
“I have now had a chance to test the car properly and worked closely with the team to get the set up just right. I therefore came away from the most recent test very happy with the way the car was performing, both with its straight-line speed and handling. It's a car that I really enjoy driving and it will be interesting to see how our pace compares next weekend.”

The JRM team has worked tirelessly since the test to analyse the data collected and then dial it into the car. Added to this, a great deal of development work has been carried out during the winter - which included significant input from Exe-tc Competition Suspension - the team looking to make its Evo Xs the best there is.

“We believe that we have all the ingredients for a good result. Gwyndaf is on his home patch in a car that performs very well and I think he is going to be the man to beat this weekend”, said JRM Operations Manager John Barnes.
“We have been very pleased with the way things have gone so far this season, after taking our first outright win in Finland last month and with the gravel testing going really well. We therefore make no secret that we are looking to secure our first British Championship victory.”

Adding to the team’s chances of a successful weekend is Daniel Sigurdarson, British rallying’s most familiar Icelandic visitor, who will run under the JRM banner in order to score points towards the coveted team’s title. Daniel will be co-driven on this occasion by his younger sister Astor Sigurdittor.

The Bulldog International Rally of North Wales starts and finishes at the new livestock centre in Welshpool, the venue also hosting the service area for the event. Cars leave the start at 7.00 am on Saturday and head to the forests of Myherin and Sweet Lamb twice in the morning, with runs through Big Ray, Dyfi Main, Pantperthog and Gartheiniog in the afternoon, before the finish back in Welshpool at 4.30pm.

BHRC preview, round one: Bulldog Historic Rally

Posted: March 23, 2010 10:52 AM

The opening round of the 2010 Dunlop/WONAGO.com MSA British Historic Rally Championship has attracted a superb 80-car field to the Bulldog Historic Rally (Saturday 27 March).
Never before have so many BDG-powered Ford Escorts packed out the entry, which will tackle over 50 miles of prime Welsh forest roads in six special stages. It promises to be a fabulous start to the 2010 season.  

Category 1
Category one is for the oldest cars, from the pre '68 era, and it is the Sunbeam Tiger of Jonathan Gale – the 2009 Bulldog winner – that heads the field away. Gale and the Tiger should be the class of the category one field, although it seems that a back injury may keep his father Graham out of the co-driver's seat this time around.
Leading the chase of the Tiger will be the Porsche 911 of defending champions Dessie Nutt and Geraldine McBride, but if all goes well with the Tiger, Nutt will be hard pressed to match the pace of the rumbling V8. The battle for class B4 has six contenders, headed by the ever-spectacular Volvo Amazon of Graham Waite/Gill Cotton. The Lotus Cortina pack includes Paul Mankin/Desmond Bell and Gwilym Roberts/Lowri Davies, while another Amazon is in the hands of Dave Reynolds/Cliff Doe. Adding further variety is the MGB of Mike Howells/Malc Hamer, while Nick Pinkett/Jonathan Lodge lead class B3 in their V4-powered Saab 96. In B1, the battle is between the Imps of Geoff Taylor/Steve Greenhill and BHRC newcomers Simon Whitehead/Gary Wood.

  Category 2

In category two, for the post-historic cars, the outright pace is likely to be a battle between old adversaries Jeremy Easson/Alun Cook and David Stokes/Guy Weaver in their Escort Mk1s. These two hugely experienced crews head a strong category two field while the Porsche 911 of Tim Mason/Graham Wild will be pushing hard.
More quick Escort Mk1s will be chasing Easson and Stokes in class C5, including those of Chris Browne/Liz Jordan and Craig Salter/Preston Ayres, while lining up against Mason in class C4 will be the Porsche 911 of Peter Smith/Russ Langthorne.
Class C3, for the Pinto-powered Escorts is again shaping up to be a fine contest, headed by Tim Jones/Don James. They face plenty of rivals including 2009 C3 champions Drew Wylie/Howard Pridmore and Andrew Siddall/Captain Thompson, while James Slaughter/Phil Peak are getting closer and closer to the class pace.
An excellent field in C2 brings out a gaggle of Escorts to take on the Hillman Avengers of Gary and Jane Edgington and Irish crew Stephen Whitford/Simon Morrow. Top of the Escort pack will be Vince Bristow/Tim Sayer, and they will surely set the standard as more quick Escorts arrive in the hands of Neil Rudd/Brian Hodgson, Richard Williams/Richard Ekin and Nick Danks/Martin Corbett.
 
Category 3
Never before have so many BDG-powered Escort Mk2s packed out the entry for a BHRC round, and four crews stand out as the potential absolute pacesetters. 2009 Bulldog winners Nick Elliott/Dave Price head the field away, closely followed by Julian Reynolds/Ian Oakey, Richard Hill/Patrick Cooper and Irish crew Ryan Barrett/Kevin Bowcott. Elliott and Reynolds may well set a scorching pace from the start.
The quality of entry in class D5 is incredible, with at least another dozen very quick crews in the top class. Darren Moon/Chris Parsons, Will Onions/Dave Williams, Simon Tysoe/Cliff Simmons and Terry Brown/Kevin Jones are just some of the other leading class D5 runners. Although at the tail of the entry list, the Escort Mk2 of Seamus O'Connell/Nigel Gardner will start much nearer the front and is another major contender in a field of remarkable quality.
In class D4 are the over 2-litre non-Escorts, and that means the Opel Asconas and Vauxhall Chevettes. Quickest of the pack could be the Chevette of Rob Smith/Shaun O'Gorman, which may well be the car to take the fight to the Escorts. Opel-mounted are Phil Collins and Derek Brannigan, and their pace on a rare BHRC outing will be watched with interest.
The standard of competition continues in class D3, where the top seeds are Stuart Clarke/Andy Ballantyne and Richard Lane/Frank Richer. Leading the chase of Clarke and Lane will be Adrian Young/Gwynfor Jones and David Lloyd-Roberts/Dei Jones.
 
The Bulldog Historic Rally is organised by Wolverhampton and South Staffs Car Club and starts at 8.30am on Saturday 27 March from Welshpool.

Evolution Challenge starts tenth consecutive season in the UK.

Posted: March 23, 2010 10:49 AM

The Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge UK kicks off its tenth consecutive season this weekend, when the high-profile one-make series for Group N (production Class) Lancer Evolutions heads to the Bulldog International Rally of North Wales for the first round of this year’s series.

For 2010 the Evo Challenge joins the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship, the calendar including three gravel and three asphalt rallies - all of them top-quality international events. The move to the UK’s premier series sees the Mitsubishi series attract some of the quickest R4 Class teams in the country and therefore, it is predicted that it will continue to provide ultra-close competition - as it has done for the past nine seasons.

First of the registered Mitsubishi crews to head into the forests of North Wales are Jonny Greer and co-driver Dai Roberts, both previous front-running Evo Challenge competitors. They are followed by 2008 Champions David Bogie/Kevin Rae, who are looking to use their experience of last year’s BRC prize drive - which was part-supported by the Evo Challenge – to their advantage.

Making a welcome debut to the series are Alastair Fisher/Rory Kennedy and a crew that are certainly in with a shot at this year’s title. Behind them are the first of three crews from outside the Britain and Ireland, Peter Horsey/Moses Matovu from Kenya, who are sampling their first taste of rallying the UK.

Returning to the Mitsubishi series, this time in an ex-works Evo IX, are Irishmen Owen Murphy and James O’Brien, who will be hoping that their new car will bring more luck than they have had in the past and put them in with a real chance of challenging for the title.

There then follows two crews from Iceland: Daniel Sigurdason, with his sister Astor Sigurdardottir co-driving, the former Icelandic Rally Champion and regular UK rally visitor back to contest his third season in the Mitsubishi series. Conversely, this is the first time that fellow countrymen Joannes Gunnarson will have competed in the UK, although his co-driver Isak Gujonsson is familiar with the territory having partnered Sigurdarson on many occasions.

The Bulldog International Rally of North Wales starts and finishes at the new livestock centre in Welshpool, the venue also hosting the service area for the event. Cars leave the start at 7.00 am on Saturday and head to the forests of Myherin and Sweet Lamb twice in the morning, with runs through Big Ray, Dyfi Main, Pantperthog and Gartheiniog in the afternoon, before the finish back in Welshpool at 4.30pm.

For the first time this season the winner of the Evolution Challenge in each of the three countries where it takes place, UK, Ireland and Sweden, will win the same prize: A supported drive in, as it has just been announced, the FxPro Rally Cyprus, the final round of the IRC (Intercontinental Rally Challenge).

Then, whichever of the three teams are first home on this event will be crowned European Evolution Challenge Champions. Added to this, the winning driver in the UK will be a guaranteed nomination for the Pirelli Star Driver shoot-out.

The 2010 Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge UK is supported by: Mitsubishi Motors UK, Pirelli tyres, Sunoco fuels, JRM, Cyprus Automobile Association, Fairways Mitsubishi, Speedline Corse wheels, Murray Motorsport, CL brake pads, Sparco racewear and PIAA lights - who sponsor the junior award for under 25-year old drivers.

Evolution Challenge entries (not necessarily in starting order)
3   Jonny Greer (Carryduff)/Dai Roberts (Carmarthen)           
4   David Bogie (Dumfries)/Kevin Rae (Hawick)
7   Alastair Fisher (Trillick)/Rory Kennedy (Letterkenny)
15 Peter Horsey (Mombasa)/Moses Matovu (Kampala)
35 Owen Murphy (Cork)/James O’Brien (Cork)
36 Joannes Gunnarson (Iceland)/Isak Gujonsson (Iceland)
38 Daniel Sigurdarson (Iceland)/Asta Sigurdardottir (Iceland)

Craig Breen Rallying Event Preview

Posted: March 23, 2010 9:56 AM

Craig Breen debuted his new “Kick Energy” Ford Fiesta S2000 to second overall in the Galway International Rally, the opening round of the Citroën Irish Tarmac Rally Championship over the first weekend in February. On Saturday next Craig begins his second championship quest as the 2010 MSA British Rally Championship gets under way with round one the Bulldog International Rally.

This event signals the ambitious undertaking of the Craig Breen Rallying Team in 2010 as they take on both the ITRC and BRC. Craig’s view on entering both championships’ “Taking on both championships I get a lot of time in the Fiesta S2000 over the twelve events that make up both the ITRC and BRC. The Galway result was just a starting point and there’s a lot more to come from my car as I gain more knowledge”.

Over the intervening weeks Craig has competed in the Willie Loughman Forestry Rally and the Mayo Stages Rally. Both events were used as test sessions and to gain more experience in the Fiesta. At the Willie Loughman Forestry Craig availed of the opportunity to drive as a 00 course car and unofficial times from the stages had the “Kick Energy” Fiesta S2000 significantly faster than rally winner Pat O’Connell driving a Mitsubishi EVO 9. On the 14th of March Craig travelled to Claremorris, Co. Mayo for the second round of the Tarmac Rally Championship. His reward for a tough nine stage event was third overall to the Subaru pair of Melvyn Evans (winner) and Kevin Barrett (second). On the way to his second podium finish of the season Craig set three fastest stage times but was hampered from an even better overall finish after being held up by an accident on the opening stage and afterwards was accredited with a time seventeen second slower then event winner Evans. Both events have proved very successful as they have given time to try different suspension settings and tyre compounds and the team now feels very satisfied with the setup they bring to North Wales.

The Bulldog International Rally is organised by the Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire Car Club. Forming the opening round of the 2010 British Rally Championship, the event is based in the town of Welshpool. Welshpool is a town in Powys, Wales, and 4 miles (6 km) from the Wales-England border. The town is low-lying on the River Severn; the Welsh language name Y Trallwng literally meaning 'the marshy or sinking land'. Welshpool is the fourth largest town in Powys. Headquarters for the one day event is in the Welshpool Livestock Market. Situated on the eastern edge of the host town, the venue boosts a 16-acre site with sufficient space for 180 crews plus their support vehicles. In addition there are office facilities, on site cafe, car parking and toilets. The rally kicks off on Thursday the 25th of March with shakedown, recce, scrutineering and documentation held on Friday. The rally starts early Saturday morning the 27th.

Kick Energy Fiesta Seeded at Number Five
The thirty eight strong International field sees twenty competitors in class R4 with Craig and Gareth seeded fifth. Reigning BRC champion Keith Cronin is seeded number one and will prove Craig’s biggest opposition. This will be Keith’s first championship outing in the Pirelli TEG Sport Subaru Impreza N15.

The remainder of the top five is packed with quality and seeded at number two is Welsh favourite Gwyndaf Evans in the JR Motorsport EVO 10, Jonny Greer completes the top three and is partnered by Dai Roberts. In front of Craig in fourth is David Bogie in his Evo 9, making three Mitsubishi’s in the top five. Craig is at five in the Kick Energy Ford Fiesta S2000 and is the only S2000 car in the event. Other Drivers to watch include Alastair Fisher seeded seventh and has veteran co driver Rory Kennedy calling the notes. Alastair took fourth overall in the Galway International and has stepped up his pace from last season and will be another driver in the mix come Saturday evening. Also joining the Irish part is Owen Murphy seeded at thirty five and will be looking to get a good result.

New Sponsorship Contract for 2010
The Bulldog international is the team’s first event of 2010 in the UK and are delighted to unveil a major new sponsorship package for the up coming season. The team are very privileged to have Kick Energy, Kel-Tech Engineering, Motorsport Ireland, Pirelli, Castrol and Suirway Forklifts as partners for the 2010 season. Car preparation will again be taken care of by Tom Gahan Motorsport.

ENTRY LIST

Posted: March 23, 2010 9:54 AM

No Driver/Co-Driver (Car) [Class]
1 Keith Cronin/Barry McNulty (Subaru Impreza N15) [R4]
2 Gwyndaf Evans/Chris Patterson (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo10) [R4]
3 Jonathan Greer/Dai Roberts (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) [R4]
4 David Bogie/Kevin Rae (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) [R4]
5 Craig Breen/Gareth Roberts (Ford Fiesta S2000) [R4]
6 Dave Weston Jnr/Ieuan Thomas (Subaru Impreza N16) [R4]
7 Alastair Fisher/Rory Kennedy (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) [R4]
8 Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton (Subaru Impreza N15) [R4]
9 Darren Gass/Neil Shanks (Subaru Impreza) [R4]
10 Jason Pritchard/Robbie Durant (Subaru Impreza) [R4]
11 Robert Swann/Darren Garrod (Subaru Impreza) [R4]
12 Alan Cookson/Julian Wilkinson (Subaru Impreza N15) [R4]
14 Max Utting/Katie Blake (Subaru Impreza N12b) [R4]
15 Peter Horsey/Moses Matovu (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo10) [R4]
16 Jarkko Nikara/Petri Nikkara (Renault Twingo) [R2]
17 Matti Rantanen/Mikko Lukka (Renault Twingo) [R2]
18 Elfyn Evans/Andrew Edwards (Ford Fiesta ST) [R3]
19 Robert Barrable/Damien Connolly (Citroen C2R2 Max) [R2]
20 Luke Pinder/Peter Scott (Citroen C2R2 Max) [R2]
21 Mark Donnelly/Paddy Robinson (Citroen C2R2 Max) [R2]
22 Spencer Wilkinson/Jamie Edwards (Subaru Impreza N10) [R4]
23 Harry Hunt/Sebastian Marshall (Ford Fiesta R2) [R2]
24 John Boyd/Craig Wallace (Ford Fiesta R2) [R3]
25 Andrew Hockridge/TBC (Citroen C2R2 Max) [R2]
26 Molly Taylor/Phil Clarke (Citroen C2R2 Max) [R2]
27 Richard Sykes/Simon Taylor (Citroen C2R2 Max) [R2]
28 Joe McGonigle/Niall Burns (Citroen C2R2 Max) [R2]
29 Tom Watson/Paul Morris (Ford Fiesta ST) [R3]
30 John MacCrone/Stuart Loudon (Ford Fiesta R2) [R2]
31 Peter Taylor/Andy Richardson (Ford Fiesta R2) [R2]
32 David Harrison/John Connor (Suzuki Swift) [R1]
33 Mikko Pajunen/Janne Perälä (Suzuki Swift) [R1]
34 Steve Graham/Tony Graham (Vauxhall Astra Rally D) [R3]
35 Owen Murphy/James O'Brien (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) [R4]
36 Johannes Gunnarson/Isak Gudjonsson (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo7) [R4]
37 Adam Gould/TBC (Subaru Impreza N11) [R4]
38 Daniel Sigurdarson/Asta Sigurdardottir (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo10) [R4]

Fiesta SportTrophy competitors out to tame the Bulldog

Posted: March 21, 2010 9:15 PM

Saturday 27 March will see the 2010 Kick Energy Fiesta SportTrophy (FST) UK and Fiesta SportChallenge (FSC) championships head to North Wales for Round 2 of the championship.  FST competitors will tackle the first round of the Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship (BRC), the Bulldog International Rally of North Wales.  The event marks the start of the link up between the Fiesta SportTrophy and the BRC, which will see FST competitors support the full British Rally Championship.  The first round of the BRC Challenge (BRCC), the Bulldog Challenge Rally, plays host to FSC competitors and marks the start of the FSC link up with the BRCC.  The FSC championship will be decided over the first five rounds of the BRCC with competitors opting to compete on either the Manx or the Ulster Rally.  

The Bulldog Rally has provided crews with the chance to compete on some of the best stages in the UK over its 50-year history and 2010 is no exception.  With 100 stage miles, including two runs through the legendary Myherin and Sweet Lamb stages¸ both of which have featured in Wales Rally GB in the recent past, FST competitors will experience the best stages that North Wales has to offer.  FSC competitors won’t be left out either, with 50 stage miles through North Wales’ finest stages..  

13 Fiestas will cross the start ramp in Welshpool with six drivers competing in the FST and seven in the FSC.  Elfyn Evans made a winning return to the Fiesta SportTrophy on the opening event, the Malcolm Wilson Rally.  Evans and co-driver Andrew Edwards will be hoping to maintain their championship lead and put their local knowledge to good use on their home event.  Irishman Matthew Cathcart finished a close second on his FST debut on the Malcolm Wilson Rally, with the 18-year-old pushing Evans hard throughout the rally despite limited testing in the Fiesta R2 prior to the event.   

19-year-old Welshman Tom Watson and co-driver Paul Morris made a steady start on the Malcolm Wilson Rally to finish in third position.  Watson will be out to build on this performance on the Bulldog and, having competed on the event in 2009, will know what to expect when the crews head for the first stage in Myherin.  John Boyd and new co-driver Craig Wallace had a torrid time on Round 1 but still managed to make it to the finish in fourth position despite rolling the car on SS2 and suffering from an intermittent engine problem.  Boyd will be looking to kick start his championship charge on Round 2 and put the problems from the Malcolm Wilson Rally behind him.   

Jedburgh based 18 year-old Peter Taylor was another driver who endured a tough start to the championship on the Malcolm Wilson Rally.  Taylor struggled with an electrical misfire throughout the event.  Taylor and co-driver Andy Richardson will be hoping for some better luck on the Bulldog Rally.  

2009 Scottish Junior Rally Champion John MacCrone makes his debut in the FST championship on the Bulldog Rally, driving the Rally Team Scotland prepared Fiesta R2.  The 20-year-old apprentice joiner from the Isle of Mull won three championships in 2009 and will be looking to repeat that success when he gets his 2010 campaign underway next weekend.  

Workington-based crew Jonny Cunningham and Richard Millener only put together a deal to compete on opening round of the Fiesta SportChallenge a week before the event.  This didn’t stop them from taking a comfortable victory on their home event, a result they will be hoping to repeat in North Wales.  Damien Smith, 28 from Silsden, and co-driver Frazer Hutchinson made an impressive start to their debut season in the Fiesta ST with second on the Malcolm Wilson Rally.  The pairing will be out to go one better on the Bulldog Rally having posted two fastest stage times on the Cumbrian event.   

From the seven crews competing in the FSC, two count the Bulldog Rally as their home event.  John Pritchard and co-driver Chris Williams made a steady start on Round 1 finishing third with only a single day’s testing prior to the event.  They will be hoping to emulate the success that Matt Edwards had driving the same car on the Bulldog Rally in 2009 where he won the FST and BRC Challenge event.  After sitting out the 2009 season, Richard Parry-Jones and co-driver Sara Price made a welcome return to competition in their Gwyndaf Evans Motors prepared Fiesta ST.  After initially struggling to get into a rhythm on the snow-covered stages, Parry-Jones recovered to eventually finished fourth on Round 1.  

After competing on several national events in 2009, 20-year-old Alex Laffey from Market Harborough, made his FSC debut on the Malcolm Wilson Rally.  Laffey and co-driver Daniel Swainbank put in a measured performance to claim fifth and their stage times were consistently improving over the duration of the rally.  Dan O’Brien (17) from St Albans and Will Rogers also made a strong debut in the championship on Round 1 and also showed consistent improvement over the course of the event.  Dan will be looking to continue this trend on the Bulldog, on what will be only his third event since graduating from Junior Rallycross.  Jamie Brown (18) from Norwich was pleased to make it to the finish on the opening round of the championship having suffered so much bad luck during the 2009 season.  Brown and co-driver Craig Burgess will be looking to build on this at round two and start to challenge further up the order.  

The Bulldog Rally also marks the start of the 2010 FST Dealer Cup.  The competition allows drivers to represent their local Ford dealer ship and is open to drivers in both the Fiesta SportTrophy and Fiesta SportChallenge.  The results for the Dealer Cup will be taken at the end of the Challenge event.  The winning Ford dealer will win a guided tour around M-Sport’s Dovenby headquarters, home of the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team.   

The 2010 Fiesta SportTrophy UK championship has a £1,850 prize fund at each round and is guaranteed down to the fifth place finisher.  The Fiesta SportChallenge also has a guaranteed prize fund for the top three finishers who share £850.   

Championship partners Pirelli will once again be supporting the championship and with drivers from the Fiesta SportTrophy section of the series eligible for nomination to the Pirelli Star Driver programme – competition will once again be hotly contested.

Citroën Racing Trophy raring to go in Wales

Posted: March 21, 2010 9:05 PM

The first round of the 2010 Dulux Trade MSA British Rally Championship, Bulldog International Rally North Wales, will witness a great scrap between no less than seven crews in the ultra competitive Citroën Racing Trophy.

Six of the drivers are new to the Citroen Racing Trophy, attracted by a huge prize fund and the allure of the 1600cc cars with their sequential gearboxes and high revving engines.

Last year’s Champion Northern Irishman Marty McCormack is having a crack at the French Rally Championship this year, so whatever happens there will be a new driver’s name on the trophy and the outcome is almost impossible to try and forecast.

2009 Champion co-driver Phil Clarke has been enlisted by one of the three drivers who battled it out in last year’s Swift Sport Cup. Australian Molly Taylor will have Clarke’s experience to continue the fight with Swift champions Luke Pinder and Peter Scott, who took victory on the final round of 2009.

Pinder has an enviable track record to his credit and will be difficult to beat though. He took the Peugeot one-make series in 2006, followed by the BRC Challenge title in 2007 and although he had to be content with some good stage times in 2008, his speed in the Swift bodes well for the coming season.

Richard Sykes and Simon Taylor have even more experience of one-make and close run championships, choosing to stay with two wheel drive despite a frustrating season against Pinder and Taylor last year. Their pace in undeniable, but poor reliability has plagued them for the last couple of seasons so Sykes will hope that the Citroën will deliver consistent results.

Irishman from both sides of the border join the Citroën Racing Trophy, having competed in Fiestas before. County Dublin driver Robert Barrable and his hugely experienced co-driver Damien Connolly will mix it with Omagh’s Mark Donnelly and Letterkenny’s Paddy Robinson, a real cross-border attempt to take the title back to Ireland.

Joseph McGonigle also adds his name to the list of Irishmen having a go at the title. Accompanied by Niall Burns, the County Donegal driver will make the step up from his Civic to the much quicker Citroën, hoping his experience in last year’s BRC will pay dividends.

Finally the only driver with experience of the little pocket rockets is Welshman Andrew Hockridge who although not yet registered for the championship, will surely want to sign up and take advantage of the massive prize fund.

All seven cars will line up on Saturday 27th March in Welshpool for one hundred miles of classic loose surface stages in some of the British Isles’ most iconic forests. The whole event is based at the brand new Welshpool Livestock Market, starting at around 7am and finishing at 6.30pm.

List of Entries Received

Posted: March 6, 2010 8:41 PM

CALLING ALL YOUNG PHOTOGRAPHERS!

Posted: March 6, 2010 8:39 PM

For the second year running one talented young photographer is set to benefit from a tie up between the Bulldog International Rally North Wales, Writtle Photographic of Bridgnorth and the Rally Show at Chatsworth.

Following last year's competition the rally organisers were so impressed by the high standard of entries and also by the interest and enthusiasm generated by the young people that they have decided to run the competition again this year.

The competition is open to any amateur photographer aged 21 and under, who takes pictures on the event and submits them to the event organisers within 14 days for judging. The winner will receive a framed print of their winning photograph donated by Writtle Photographic and a pair of complimentary tickets for both days of the Rally Show at Chatsworth on 5th & 6th June given by the show's promoters.

Mark Writtle explained:
"When I was a teenager I can remember picking up my camera and going to a rally and standing for hours in a forest taking pictures of the cars. In my case my hobby turned into my profession and I think myself very lucky to be making a living from something that I enjoy so much. This competition is all about giving an incentive to some young person who might be looking to follow that route or might simply enjoy rallying and photography."

Mark continued:
"Last year's winner, Jamie Blandford, spotted me taking photographs on a recent rally and introduced himself. He is certainly still pursuing his rally photography and told me how much he enjoyed the Rally Show at Chatsworth despite the fact that the weather was so wet."

Malcolm Neill, Managing Director of The Rally Show, stated:
"I am delighted to be involved with the Bulldog Rally and Writtle Photographic once again in this venture to encourage young photographers to get involved within our great sport. By providing them with tickets to both days of the Rally Show we will be offering them an opportunity to become snap happy for the weekend amidst our spectacular array of rally cars both on display and on the timed stages."

Further information and an entry form are available for download from the event website

BROOKES HELPS RECRUIT MARSHALS FOR BULLDOG

Posted: March 2, 2010 10:53 AM

UK rally legend Russell Brookes is helping the Bulldog Rally organisers to recruit marshals by offering a prize for their Marshals' Draw. One lucky marshal will win a ride in a rally car with the twice British Champion, at the Kick Energy sponsored Rally Show at Chatsworth on 5th and 6th June.

For the prize ride Russell will use either the Opel Manta that took him to the 1985 British Championship title or the Talbot Sunbeam Lotus which he drove on the 1981 RAC Rally. Both cars are still resplendent in the colours of Russell's long-time sponsor Andrews Heat For Hire.

Russell says:
"Safety on special stages is paramount and having plenty of marshals is a major factor in this. If offering this ride encourages more people to volunteer then that can only be a good thing. Malcolm Neill, Managing Director of The Rally Show, has kindly allowed me to take the winning marshal in the co-driver's seat around the special stage at Chatsworth and also donated a pair of tickets for the winner and friend to attend the show."

Bulldog Rally's Chief Marshal, Becky Hinton, commented:
"We are already getting strong interest from marshals but we can always do with more. We are running five different events and utilising eight stage locations so we need plenty of help. I would like to thank Russell, Malcolm and the rally car owners for offering this exciting prize. We are getting some other fantastic prizes donated but this has to be the one that most marshals will hope to win."

Anyone thinking of volunteering as a marshal can find further information in the marshals section of the event website

BULLDOG RALLY TO SUPPORT TWO CHARITIES

Posted: February 21, 2010 7:43 PM

Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire Car Club, the organisers of the Bulldog Rally which takes place on Saturday 27th March, has chosen two charities which their event will support. They are the Welsh Air Ambulance and When You Wish Upon a Star.

It is the third year that the event has supported the Welsh Air Ambulance, whose flying base is situated at Welshpool Airfield, literally just down the road from the event headquarters at the new Welshpool Livestock Sales.

Clerk of the Course, Kevin Witton, explained
"Rally drivers know that if they have a serious accident during the event the WAA is always on hand to come to their assistance. The very least that events such as ours can do is to raise some money for them. It is the competitors' way of showing their gratitude."
Kevin continued,
"We are also supporting When You Wish Upon a Star. One of our committee members told us about the wonderful work done by this charity that grants wishes for children with life threatening and terminal illnesses from all over the UK. We are working with the North West branch which covers the North Wales area."

Rally driver Mick Jones from Guilsfield will host a rally day for some of the children and their families. Mick commented,
"All my children are into rallying so a couple of years ago I built a rally special stage track on our land to give us somewhere to practice. It will be a great place to give the kids a ride around in our rally cars. My whole family are really looking forward to meeting the children and their families and I sincerely hope we can provide a few hours of respite and a bit of enjoyment for them at a very difficult time in their lives."

Samantha Farmer, the "Wish Fairy" who co-ordinates the wishes on behalf of the charity said,
"We have several older children interested in motorsport so this will be a lovely trip out for them and we are indebted to the Bulldog Rally for offering this exciting opportunity."

BULLDOG INTERNATIONAL RALLY NORTH WALES LINKS WITH 'GO MOTORSPORT'

Posted: February 8, 2010 1:03 PM

The organisers of the Bulldog Rally North Wales have linked with the RACMSA initiative 'Go Motorsport' to promote rallying to school children in Welshpool which is the headquarters town for this prestigious event.

Go Motorsport is a marketing initiative, backed by the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, to encourage new people into motorsport. The campaign is centrally co-ordinated by the RAC Motor Sports Association which is the governing body of motorsport in the UK.

Dilys Trevethick, an ex head teacher, former rally competitor and now media manager of the Bulldog Rally, has been going into schools around the country to talk to pupils about rallying for many years. In March she will be working alongside Alistair Dodd, Go Motorsport's newly appointed Regional Development Officer for North Wales, when the pair visit Welshpool High School to spread the word about motorsport and rallying in particular.

Although this will be Alistair's first school visit in his new role, he is already known on the rally circuit for being instrumental in putting together the budget conscious Formula 1000 Championship, which has facilitated many people to go rallying who might otherwise have been priced out of the sport.

"I cannot wait to begin my new job," enthused Alistair. "I think everyone agrees that the future of motorsport lies with the next generation and I feel privileged to be able to play my part in encouraging youngsters to consider motorsport as a possible career path or to simply get involved as a hobby."

Dilys commented: "I am delighted that Go Motorsport has combined with the Bulldog Rally to reach out to the next generation. We will be taking a couple of rally cars plus drivers along and giving a presentation that hopefully will be both informative and fun. At the end of it, thanks to the generosity of Go Motorsport plus our title sponsor, Bulldog Security Products, we will hand out goody bags to the children."

Regulations available

Posted: February 8, 2010 11:06 AM




Aerial view of the new site at Buttington Cross which is situated at the junction of the A458 and A483, near the northern end of the Welshpool bypass.
Photo: Dan Barry

BULLDOG INTERNATIONAL RALLY NORTH WALES TO BE FEATURED AT FFRESH FESTIVAL

Posted: February 5, 2010 11:41 PM

Following working with the organisers to produce a five-minute video of the 2009 Bulldog International Rally North Wales, eighteen-year-old student Gareth Wyn Parry will have his work showcased at a major film festival in Wales later this month.

Gareth, who is studying for a BTEC National Diploma in Media Production specialising in film and television at Coleg Menai, Bangor, produced the film to form the basis of one of the units needed to pass his first year at college.

The film was highly commended by his lecturers and it is this short film that will now be showcased at the prestigious Ffresh Festival at Aberystwyth on February 11th & 12th.

Now in its eighth year, the Ffresh - the student moving image festival - aims to celebrate the best work being created by up and coming film makers from around the world.

Gareth said: "It is wonderful news. My tutors at college have known for a while that it was being shown but didn't tell me as they wanted it to be a surprise when I visited the festival next week with my college group. However I looked on the Ffresh website and there was my film mentioned! It is such an honour and I must thank the rally organisers as they were such a help to me in organising my film."

Dilys Trevethick, Bulldog Rally Media Manager commented: "We, as event organisers, are always keen to involve the local community so when Coleg Menai student Gareth approached us about making a short film of the Bulldog Rally we were only too happy to assist. I am so delighted that his hard work has been recognised. The Bulldog Rally congratulates Gareth on his achievement."

The Bulldog International Rally of Wales takes place on Saturday 27th March and for further information, please visit

Rally Guide 1 Available

Posted: January 5, 2010 3:19 PM

New Base for Bulldog - 'A Spirited Rally with Breeding!'

Posted: January 5, 2010 3:17 PM

The Bulldog International Rally North Wales, scheduled for Saturday 27th March 2010, will move its HQ location when it becomes the first rally ever to use the new livestock market situated on the edge of Welshpool.

The 16-acre site is one of the largest livestock markets in Europe complying with new bio-security and DEFRA legislation and will provide sufficient space for 180 crews plus their support vehicles all on hard-standing. This means that all five events incorporated in the Bulldog Rally North Wales can be based together in one location for scrutineering, documentation, start, finish and prize presentations giving a more coherent and friendly feel to the rally weekend. In addition there are office facilities, on site cafe, car parking, toilets and a car wash.

Clerk of the Course Kevin Witton said "We are absolutely delighted to have found this exciting new venue to use as the base for our rally. We first heard about it two years ago and having watched the site take shape we couldn't believe our luck when the owners agreed to us using it. In addition, Powys Council and the Welshpool Tourist Office are being really supportive of the event. Welshpool is within easy access of the motorway network and within reasonable travelling distance from the classic Welsh stages. There is plenty of B&B accommodation locally and both Oswestry and Shrewsbury, where several of the larger chain hotels are situated, are within an easy 25-minute drive. It really ticks all the boxes for a rally base and I am sure this venue will enhance our event and prove popular with everyone involved in the rally."

Picture attached is copyright free, courtesy of Dan Barry. It shows an aerial view of the new site at Buttington Cross which is situated at the junction of the A458 and A483, near the northern end of the Welshpool bypass.

Event Website / Details

Posted: January 1, 2010 12:01 AM






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