“BHRC makes an­nual trip to Kielder”

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - PAUL LAWRENCE

The M6 beck­ons on Fri­day morn­ing and that’s fine with me. It’s time to move the Min­tex MSA Bri­tish His­toric Rally Cham­pi­onship cir­cus out of Wales and north to Carlisle for the Pirelli Rally.

That, of course, means the cham­pi­onship’s an­nual visit to Kielder and the unique chal­lenge of the for­est roads in Europe’s big­gest man-made for­est. I love go­ing ral­ly­ing in the Bor­ders re­gion; the scenery is stun­ning, the roads are quiet and the ral­lies are gen­er­ally free from the mind­less chavs who can do so much dam­age to our sport in other re­gions. Kielder is a place for proper rally fans.

Af­ter two ex­cel­lent, al­beit hor­ri­bly wet, ral­lies in Wales, the BHRC bat­tle lines have been drawn and now comes round three of nine. Af­ter Kielder, three more gravel and three as­phalt rounds will set­tle the 2016 ti­tle.

On cur­rent form, two driv­ers are set­ting the his­toric pace and they’ll re­join bat­tle this week­end. Ja­son Pritchard has taken two per­fect scores with two fault­less per­for­mances, with the ever-pro­fes­sional Phil Clarke on the notes. Mean­while, Nick El­liott and long-time co-driver Dave Price have fin­ished sec­ond on both events.

How­ever, El­liott can rightly feel hard done by this year, as on both the Red Kite and Rally North Wales his en­gine cut out for long enough to cost him two wins. The pres­sure is now on El­liott to beat Pritchard this week­end, for it is on gravel that El­liott needs to get his big scores. The best six scores from nine will de­cide the ti­tle and there are six gravel rounds on El­liott’s sur­face of choice. On the other hand, Pritchard has shown am­ple abil­ity on ei­ther sur­face and knows that the Isle of Man dou­ble-header in Septem­ber will play to his as­phalt prow­ess and knowl­edge of the is­land. El­liott has never been there.

So, El­liott has to take max­i­mum scores on as many gravel events as pos­si­ble and that needs to start in Kielder this week­end. If Nick drops an­other top score to Pritchard, it is go­ing to set Ja­son nicely on course to re­tain his crown. El­liott won here a year ago while Pritchard was side­lined by clutch prob­lems. There is plenty for both crews to think about as they cruise up the M6 on Fri­day.

What lies in wait should be a crack­ing event, with just four long stages mak­ing up 45 com­pet­i­tive miles. The or­gan­is­ing team on the Pirelli has worked hard to de­liver just what the his­toric crews want and are to be com­mended for ar­rang­ing first us­age and sin­gle us­age of the for­est roads for the BHRC con­tenders. That fact alone should put a smile on the face of the his­toric crews.

El­liott: un­lucky in early BHRC gravel rounds

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