The Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship crews are beginning to arrive on the sunny Isle of Man for this weekend’s title deciding Best Cars Chris Kelly Memorial Manx Stages – although the forecast suggests that Friday could be a wet and stormy affair, as Steve Wood, John Stone and Mark Kelly battle it out for the 2022 drivers’ crown and prestigious BTRDA Gold Star award.
Some classic Manx stages – like Brandywell, The Baldwins, St Marks, Roundtable, Staarvey and Little London – are included in this two day / three leg event, which will also confirm all the 2022 Protyre Asphalt class champions.
The Ramsey Town Stage (SS5/6) may have been cancelled, but that still leaves a whopping 16 stages and around 130 miles of competitive action lying in wait.
The first car will start Leg 1 from the TT Grandstand at 12:20 on Friday (30 September) for four short sharp tests.
After a generous service time, Leg 2 will begin at dusk, with a further four stages running well into the darkness before an overnight halt just before 23:00.
Some of the island’s finest roads are on offer throughout the weekend and Saturday’s Leg 3 (1 October) houses the bulk of the competitive with over 80 miles and eight stages before the traditional champagne finish back at the TT Grandstand from around 14:30.
And for those wondering about the name of this year’s event, it’s in memory of former Manx Auto Sport Club Chairman Chris Kelly, who was integral to the club’s closed-road rallying on the island. The rebranding of the event coincides with its previous PokerStars sponsorship deal coming to an end.
“Many people will be more than familiar with our October event and its new name also comes with some exciting changes to the format which we believe will benefit everyone involved,” says Club President Mark Ellison.
“It’s a tough route and has a good number of miles for crews to get stuck into across some of the more well-known stages on the island as well as some new twists and re-introductions of old favourites.
As for the weather forecast, there is 100% chance of rain on Friday, with showers and a 70% chance of rain predicted for Saturday.
Live action footage will be broadcast on the Special Stage Facebook page and look out on social media for precise broadcast times and locations.
Chris Kelly Memorial Manx Stages – top 10 seeded entries
1. Peter Taylor/Jack Morton….Ford Fiesta WRC
2. Neil Roskell/Andrew Roughead….Ford Fiesta R5+
3. Steve Wood/Dale Bowen….Ford Fiesta WRC
4. Mark Kelly/Neil Colman….Škoda Fabia R5+
6. John Stone/Laura Connell….Volkswagen Polo GTI R5
7. Andrew Purcell/Andy Hayes….Škoda Fabia R5
8. Stephen Simpson/Patrick Walsh….Ford Fiesta Rally2
9. Steven Ormond-Smith/Dafydd Evans….Mitsubishi Evo IX
10. Darren Atkinson/Phil Sandham….Ford Escort Mk2