Munnings aiming for Circuit of Ireland
Catie Munnings is hoping to make her European Rally Championship debut on the Circuit Ireland next month, with a full season in the offing for the 18-year-old.
Catie – daughter of competitor Chris who used to run the London Rally School at Brands Hatch– will drive a Sainteloc-prepared Peugeot 208 R2.
“We’ve put together what is going to be a two-year programme, this year and next year, with a whole project,” said Munnings. “I don’t have much experience so I’m going to be getting training as we go. I’ll be doing rallies before the championship rounds to practice on each surface.”
Munnings tested at Morzine in France last year with Charles Martin, a 208 Cup winner, along with former Peugeot 208 driver Chris Ingram.
The Circuit of Ireland is likely to be Munnings’ first time competing in the R2 after campaigning a 106 in club events in the United Kingdom to obtain her European licence.
“I wasn’t going to Latvia [the first ERC round which was postponed] anyway as I wouldn’t have had my international licence in time,” added Munnings, who is studying for her A-levels. “It’s going to be cool and pretty full-on managing this along with my exams.”
I’ve spent the best part of five months writing about the British Rally Championship on a weekly basis, and still my enthusiasm for the season’s restart in Mid Wales knows no bounds. The fundamental factor in the championship’s buzz since its return for me is the rallies, and what an opener we have in store with the Mid Wales.
There aren’t many countries that can offer World Championship quality stages on a regular basis. We’ve got a championship full of world-level tests for teams and drivers, it’s something that has defined the series in the past and should do again in the future. After all, there’s a reason why so many foreign drivers came over to prove themselves in British forests, and there are plenty of drivers from abroad on the series’ return, too.
One thing we certainly have to watch out for is the end of the Hafren-sweet Lamb test that opens the rally. It’s just under 16 miles in the dark, and this could be where the rally is won and lost.
A lot of the drivers are inexperienced in their cars, having bought them for this championship, and to throw yourself into a tricky test like Hafren to open your account is daunting to say the least.
I was up at Race Retro last weekend and – despite the offering of current works Opel driver Chris Ingram driving an ex-russell Brookes Manta 400, plus David Llewellin driving an ex-kenneth Eriksson Subaru Impreza – everywhere I went the conversation was the BRC. And who would make it to the end of the first stage.
Even Sweet Lamb can prove tricky, just ask Jari-matti Latvala. He was off right at the start of the stage – albeit a slightly different test to those the drivers will be running in the BRC. Although there are stages considered ‘safe’, if they can catch Latvala out in the light, they can certainly catch a few boys out in the BRC in the dark.
One element of news also causing a buzz is the seeding, more specifically, the starting position of the Juniors. Talk on Saturday centred around who should be the first junior. In reality it’s Mattias Adielsson in the Vauxhall Adam R2, with Sindre Furuseth in a Renault Twingo second. We all know that the Twingo is probably a bit out of its depth here, so can Sindre overcome the car’s deficiencies and triumph? If he can, then he’ll certainly be rising to somewhere in the top five of my ‘young drivers heading for great things’ list.
My bet is still on Meirion Evans for the Mid Wales Junior triumph. The local lad has driven just about any specification of rally car at the ripe old age of 20, and his performances on gravel and asphalt have impressed massively over the last six months. Plus the Ford Fiesta R2T is the most proven package on gravel, with question marks over the Adam and Twingo. So, Meirion for the win there. It may be a bold choice, but I think my money will be safe come Sunday.
ROAD RALLY ROUND-UP
Former Peugeot 205 Challenge champion Paul Tod, along with navigator David ‘Garth’ Powell, took a dominant win on Bath MC’S Festival Rally.
In its fifth year under Dave Whittock’s control, the rally attracted crews from all over the country to make up an excellent 66-car starters list. They faced a daunting route that included a number of forestry roads.
The winners – in a Subaru Impreza – were never headed, although their lowly seeding meant that they suffered significant baulking. The win was Powell’s first in nine years.
Nic Morris/martin Phasey, who went well on this event last year, kept the leaders within sight throughout the night and were never far behind. They were 25 seconds down at the end.
Third place fell to Dei Jones/iwan Jones, who had to contend with an event-long misfire.
Top seeds John Davies/ Max Freeman had a troubled night. They lost all their lights on the first test. They had recovered to fourth when their Vauxhall Astra’s clutch failed.