As defending Old Forge Garage Mewla Rally winners, Steve Simpson/Patrick Walsh take the No.1 spot in their Subaru Impreza WRC for this year’s event which brings crews to the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells, on 28th August. Due to the unfortunate cancellation of the Cheviot Keith Knox Stages last October, the Mewla was the final round of the 2015 MSA Asphalt Rally Championship, but fast forward twelve months and the battle for the coveted crown is still in full swing, with another two events to go after the high-speed Bank Holiday run over the Epynt Ranges.
Following Simpson/Walsh away from the Showground will be Damian Cole/Paul Morris in their Ford Fiesta WRC. Cole is also a past Mewla winner and knows Epynt very well. Indeed, he emerged victorious from the Harry Flatters Rally over similar territory at the end of July. For their part, Simpson/Walsh won the Tour of Epynt – the Asphalt Championship’s first visit to the Ranges – earlier this year and, consequently, a battle royale is in prospect over the Bank Holiday weekend!
Acknowledged Epynt expert Bob Fowden, who has moved up to an Impreza World Rally Car this season, and co-driver Paul Wakely will be the next Championship registered crew in the line-up, while David Tinn/Giles Dykes (Proton Satria Neo) will be aiming to improve on their 6th place finish last year.
Richard Clews was also a Top Ten finisher in his Group N+ Impreza in 2015 and his performances so far this season have put him up to 3rd in the overall Championship points table – so, another clear run would be very useful! Similarly, Rob Tout/Dylan James’ Lancer EVO9 won Group N last year and now, also upgraded to Class B13, it has shown itself to be capable of upsetting the establishment….
Wynne Watkins/Ashley Trimble lead the Championship Group N contingent in their Impreza, from the Lancer EVO9 of Oliver Hopkins/Ian Taylor. Hopkins currently leads the table from Watkins while the category winners for the past two years, David & Mathew White, are absent following an accident in their Impreza last time out. Richard & Ben Slinger and Manxman Stu Bainborough bring their Lancer EVO6s to Epynt as the battle for Class B13, and the end-of-season Kwiktrak awards, hots up. Although Clews currently leads the class, his position is far from safe!…
AB Motorsport Front-Wheel Drive Challenge leaders William Hill/Richard Crozier (Fiesta R200) will be aiming to consolidate their position, although their closest rivals, Richard & Pat Egger (Vauxhall Nova) and Paul Clackett/David Millard (Suzuki Swift S1600) will each have their own thoughts on that one! Meanwhile, having only had sporadic outings in the Championship so far this season, Tim Seipel has enlisted the help of Val Thompson to guide his MG ZR across the Ranges this time.
Lee Perry/Stuart Powell’s Escort Cosworth is another vying for Class B13 points, while Geoff Glover/Keith Barker might just clinch the Millington Rear-Wheel Drive Challenge in their Astra RWD this weekend – with all the usual caveats, obviously!
Kev Harbour/Ryan Jones (Peugeot 205) and Tom Middlemiss/Richard Stewart (Corsa S1600) will be vying for points in the hotly-contested Class B10 while the Kellys, Ian & Margaret, will be more interested in B9 in their 1400cc Nissan Micra!
The ‘mixed-surface’ BTRDA Rally Challenge comes to the Old Forge Garage Mewla Rally for its final asphalt round of the season. Current leader of the Drivers’ category, Stephen Petch (Fiesta R5+), and defending Co-driver Champion Jack Morton are competing in the same car for the first time, but their main worry will be Steve Simpson/Patrick Walsh. Should Petch not finish and Simpson take maximum points, the two will tie for the lead prior to the final round. Richard Crozier leads the Codrivers’ table but, similarly, should he fail to finish the Mewla and Jack Morton does (even if he’s behind Walsh), there is likely to be a change at the top.
The first car leaves the start of the Old Forge Garage Mewla Rally at 8.00am on Sunday 28th August for 11 special stages, totalling 72 miles – the longest of which is more than 13 miles! – and is due to arrive back at the finish at 4.20pm.
Further details of the MSA Asphalt Rally Championship are available from the Coordinator :
Andrew Haill – Tel : 0121 313 1416/E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org OR by visiting the Championship website : http://www.asphaltrallying.co.uk