NATIONAL RALLY PREVIEW
One of the fastest drivers in national rallying joins the fray for this year’s Wales Rally GB National rally. Luke Francis missed the event last year but returns to this event to fight for the win with last year’s frontrunners Jock Armstrong and Mike Faulkner.
Armstrong gets a free entry through winning the Scottish Rally Championship, and he hopes to gain redemption after last year’s drama. A broken ball joint on his Subaru Impreza cost him a comfortable win, on the last stage. He and co-driver Paula Swinscoe will be tough to beat on the event they dominated in 2015.
If anyone can be a match, though, it’s Francis. He won the most events in the BTRDA this year but an engine breakage on the Malcolm Wilson Rally and a handful of misdemeanours ruled him out of contention and Charlie Payne took the series win. Payne gained a free entry, but won’t take part.
Faulkner has won the last two events and will once again be a frontrunner, while evergreen national runner Roger Duckworth brings a Subaru Impreza S6 WRC back to Rally GB.
Two runners positioned behind will also challenge. Dylan Davies is a rapid young driver, while Thomas Preston has been sharpened by competing in the British Rally Championship this year and will likely be in the mix in his Skoda Fabia R5.
Of the historic entries, Rudi Lancaster will be formidable in his Ford Escort Mk2. The similar cars of Ben Friend and Mark Bentley shouldn’t be ruled out, while Jimmy Mcrae will provide the crowdpleasing in his Network Q-backed entry. The Scot made his GB debut on this event 40 years previously and drives the same car this year, a Vauxhall Magnum.
Other significant entries include Gee Atherton, who’s the second R2 on the entry, while Stuart Larbey brings the fever with his MG Metro 6R4. The first R2 on the entry belongs to Michael ‘Mick’ Harris, the MH Motorsport boss who will run Osian Pryce’s Ford Fiesta R5 on the international event.
There’s also a Land Rover Freelander for British Cross Country duo Louisa Felice and Jessica Reynolds.
The national event uses exactly the same stages as the International rally, only they complete each stage once. Crews will take in 107 miles over 12 stages.