Mark Kelly, Steve Wood, John Stone and Neil Roskell will have their signs set on grabbing the lead of the Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship when Round 3 of the series, the Dunoon presents Argyll Rally, takes place on 24/25 June.
With neither series leader Ruairi Bell nor second placed James Williams contesting the closed road event, it’s a great opportunity for the asphalt experts to steal an advantage as the UK’s premier sealed-surface series heads to Scotland for the second time in as many events.
Having scored second and fourth placed points on the Tour of Epynt and Jim Clark rallies respectively, Mark is best placed to capitalise as he heads to Argyll a close third in the drivers’ points standings. With regular co-driver Neil Colman away on holiday, Mark will be navigated by the experienced Will Atkins in his Michelin-shod and Roccia/Tile Master-backed Ford Fiesta R5+.
Steve Wood has enjoyed a fantastic start to his Protyre Asphalt campaign and has twice been the top non-R5 finisher in his City East Ford Fiesta RS WRC. Co-driven by Dale Bowen, he has recorded a fifth and a third placed points-scoring finish on the opening two rounds and arrives back in Scotland fourth in the drivers’ standings, just six points shy of the lead.
John Stone contested the Argyll Rally last year, although a damaged wheel on his Ford Fiesta RS WRC forced him out early. Back together with co-driver Tom Woodburn, he’ll return this year in his Legend Fires Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 – a car in which he has been rallying for less than a year, but one that he has really gelled with and become a serious title contender in.
Neil Roskell hasn’t got off to the start he was hoping for, but whilst he’s seventh in the drivers’ standings the ND Civils/Collins Construction Ford Fiesta R5+ pilot is just 13 points off the lead. He finished the Argyll Rally last year, so will be keen to put his road knowledge to good use as he and co-driver Andrew Roughead target maximum points.
Mark Holmes finished 32nd overall on last year’s Argyll Rally. He also scored maximum class B14 points on this year’s Jim Clark, which has given his navigator Mark Perryman the joint lead of the co-drivers’ class category. Another good performance in his Ford Fiesta S2000 will do his title chances no harm at all.
Others to look out for include Chris Ford/Matthew Daniels (Ford Fiesta Rally2), Steven Ormond-Smith/Dafydd Evans (Mitsubishi Evo 9) and David Henderson/Chris Lees in their Michelin-shod Keco-backed Ford Fiesta Rally2.
Richard Clews/Carl Williamson, who won class B14 on the Tour of Epynt, return in their ITG Subaru Impreza STi, while defending class B14 champion and current class leader Adrian Spencer drives his familiar RED Industries Subaru Impreza WRX, co-driven by Mark Hewitt.
Brad Cole/Jamie Vaughan arrive in Argyll leading class B13 in their 2.5-litre Smith & Jones powered Hydroline Solutions Escort Mk2 and will be hoping to extend their advantage and also take the lead of the Ford Escort Challenge.
Darren Atkinson/Philip Sandham, who won class B13 on the Jim Clark, are back in their Atkinsons Sandblasting/S&W Fabrication-backed Escort Mk2.
Also aiming for top Ford Escort Challenge points will be Antony Allery/Mark Runciman, Stephen Thompson/Larry Higton, Peter Jackson/Emily Easton-Page and Graham Muter/Colin Watson.
Jonathan Stepney/Aled Davies shot into the class B12 lead with a spirited drive on the Jim Clark. They hope to have solved the handling problems on their 1.9-litre engined Griffiths/Gavin Griffiths Group-backed Peugeot 205 GTi to allow them to push even harder this time.
Geoff Glover/Keith Barker have a 10-point lead in class B11; a class win on Epynt and third on the Jim Clark marking a fine start to the season in the rear-wheel drive Vauxhall Astra Mk3.
Olly Hunter bounced back from an off on Epynt to win class B11 on the Jim Clark. He’ll be partnered this time by Daniel May as he hopes to continue his good run of form in Argyll in his Vauxhall-engined Ford Escort Mk2. The 2018 class B11 champions Paul and Julian Doroszczuk will also be aiming to build on their second in class last time out in their normally aspirated Cosworth-engined Drockspeed Motorsport Escort Mk2.
Nathan Evans/Rhys Edwards join the battle for Protyre Asphalt series class B11 points in Argyll in their rapid 2-litre Evans Rallying Renault Clio 2 Cup car.
Also having their first Protyre Asphalt run of 2022 are Jonathan Davies/Wayne Jones (Vauxhall Astra) and Simon Hunter/Howard Pridmore (Opel Corsa S1400).
Reigning Scottish junior champion Johnnie Mackay rolled out of the Argyll Rally in 2019 when he was running in 35th position overall (having been seeded at number 101). Co-driven by Michael Cruickshank, the 20-year old driver from Aberdeen will be looking to stay roof-side-up this time and repeat his class N3 Epynt victory in his ISS/Kewtech Ford Fiesta ST.
Protyre Motorsport will take a large number of tyres to the Argyll Rally, including Pirelli, Michelin and Hoosier, and operate an on-event fitting service for all registered Championship contenders.
Special Stage TV will be live streaming the action from the event on its Facebook page, with commentary from Mark James.
Based at the Dunoon Stadium, the 12 stages/57.63 stage mile event will start at 18.00 on Friday 24 June. Leg 1 contains two opening stages around Dunoon town centre and three more stages around the Cowal peninsula in the picturesque Argyll and Bute region of Scotland. The event will restart at 09.00 on Saturday 25 June, with Leg 2 containing eight stages, four ran twice, before the finish ceremony back at Dunoon Stadium at around 16:45.
Regulations and details on how to enter the 2022 Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship are available at: asphaltrallying.com.
Membership of the BTRDA can be done online at: btrdamembership.com.
2022 Argyll Rally – top 10 seeded entries
1. Freddie Milne/Patrick Walsh….Ford Fiesta R5
2. David Bogie/Cameron Fair….Mini JCW WRC
3. Daniel Harper/Chris Campbell….Mini JCW WRC
4. Mark Kelly/Will Atkins….Ford Fiesta R5
5. David Henderson/Chris Lees….Ford Fiesta R5
6. Steve Wood/Dale Bowen….Ford Fiesta WRC
7. Neil Roskell/Andrew Roughead….Ford Fiesta R5
8. Michael Binnie/Claire Mole….Mitsubishi Evo 9
9. Wayne Sisson/Peredur Davies….Mitsubishi Evo X
10. Darren Atkinson/Philip Sandham….Ford Escort Mk2