Oliver Hopkins will return to the Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship this year, driving his mighty Hopkins Motorsport-owned Mitsubishi Mirage.
The Bristol driver is no stranger to the series, having finished runner-up in the B14 class in 2019.
Oli and co-driver Ian Taylor contested the Corinium Stages in May as part of their Protyre Asphalt pre-season preparations.
It was Oli’s first rally at Down Ampney since 2014 and the first time that Ian had co-driven for Oli since the 2019 Carryduff Forklift Down Rally.
And they had a great run to third place overall, finishing just eight seconds behind runners-up Damian Cole/Dale Bowen (Škoda Fabia R5).
Ahead of the 2021 Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship, the Mirage has had both the upgrade pack and a new engine installed – after it was found to be down on power after the Hills Ford Three Shires Stages Rally in 2019.
Oli is particularly looking forward to the Three Shires (5 September), which is his local round of the Protyre Asphalt series.
“The event was a great success in 2019 and ran very smoothly for the club on its first attempt at a closed road rally,” says Oli.
“I also really enjoy Epynt as an event, but for some reason the Mewla has never been kind to me.
“We had a heavy roll back in 2013 on the Burma Road, 2015 we had a brake failure causing the car to be beached on a bank resulting in an OTL and we had a spectacular off on Black Hut Jump in 2016 that I was able to miraculously save. Hopefully the 2021 Mewla will be kind to me!”
The Old Forge Garage Mewla Rally is the opening round of the 2021 Protyre Asphalt Rally Championship, and takes place on Sunday 29 August.
Oli is also looking forward to the PokerStars Rally (1/2 October), as he always goes extremely well on the Isle and Man. The event was held in torrential rain the last time Oli contested it, so being run a month earlier this year he hopes that the weather will be more sympathetic – as do we all!
Picture of Oliver Hopkins/Ian Taylor (Mitsubishi Mirage) on the Corinium Stages courtesy of Russ Otway – 90right.com