“BHRC makes annual trip to Kielder”
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