With just two rounds of the 2014 REIS MSA Asphalt Rally Championship left to run, all the main protagonists in the fight for the coveted title will be heading to Ireland for the Wexford Stages Rally (13/14th September).
As they arrive in Wexford to prepare for the recce, it is four-time champion – and 2011 Wexford Stages Rally winner – Damian Cole and co-driver Elliott Edmondson (Ford Focus WRC) who top the points tables, and who will be doing their utmost to ensure that that is still the case when the Championship reaches its conclusion in November!
Cole/Edmondson were 2nd overall here in 2013, finishing marginally ahead of Steve Simpson/Patrick Walsh (Subaru Impreza WRC). This time, they start one place in front of the Focus as they continue their bid to end Cole’s record-breaking run of success. For their part, they were leading the MSA Asphalt Championship earlier in the season, but consecutive retirements on the ALMC Stages in July and then the Tyneside Stages a month later temporarily blunted their challenge. However the title, which Simpson last won in 2007, is still within their grasp although, at the same time, it goes without saying that they’ve got their work cut out!
John Stone/Carl Williamson were forced to miss the last round, the Old Forge Garage Mewla Rally, due to family commitments, an absence which saw them relinquish their Championship lead to Cole/Edmondson. They return for Wexford in their Skoda Fabia WRC to start behind Simpson’s Impreza and trust that the car’s reliability, which has seen them achieve a 100% finishing record so far this year, will continue through to the end of the season, at least!
Alex Laffey/Jack Morton began 2014 in a new Ford Fiesta R5+ and, having recovered from an accident on the opening round of the Championship on the Epynt Ranges, are reaping the benefits of improved familiarity with the car. Prior to Wexford, they are 3rd in the table and are in the mix for a podium finish to the year.
Welshman Meirion Evans and co-driver Jonathan Jackson return to Ireland with their Group N Impreza and are hoping for better luck than the last time they were in the country. They were running in the Top Ten on the ALMC Stages before the car disappeared through a hedge and into retirement on one of the later stages….
Aiming for top billing in the Millington Rear-Wheel Drive Challenge will be Keith Robathan in his Ford Escort MkII. The Aberdonian, who is contesting his first full Asphalt Championship since the late 90s, is handily placed to move into the lead of this particular category provided, obviously, that he gets the car to the finish!…
Also in line for Millington RWD points, the two Talbot Sunbeam Lotuses that are contesting each round of the Championship this season will be making their second visit to Southern Ireland. Mike Taylor/Peter Grant and Cathy Sewart, who has yet to nominate a co-driver, are only three points apart in the popular Class B12 and there is bound to be some team rivalry creeping in as they attempt to move up the table! Cathy has already won the Fuchs Titan Race £50 product voucher for ‘Best Improvement on Seeding’ twice this year – whose turn will it be this time?…
Based at the Riverbank House Hotel in Wexford, the event runs over two days and 240km of stages must be completed to be classified as a finisher. The first car will leave the start at 9.15am on Saturday 13th September and, during the day, three stages will each be run twice. Following an overnight halt, the second leg begins at 9.20am on the Sunday morning for three different stages, run three times. The rally finish, back at Riverbank House, is scheduled for 5.15pm that afternoon.
Further details of the REIS MSA Asphalt Rally Championship are available from the Coordinator :