Showroom class set for most exciting season yet
What a different a year makes. At the start of 2016, the NR4 Class was looking like a shadow of its former self.
By the middle of last year it was down to under five entries per round and the formula appeared tired, although the five or so that did enter usually provided a good battle.
But this year, it’s a different story. It’s a tale of two factors. First, returning frontrunners. Pat Naylor, 2015 Production Cup and NR4 champion, elected not to return in 2016 to defend his title. Although a deal was agreed to sell the car, co-driver Ian Lawrence didn’t want to see it go and a plan was hatched to return to the championship this year ( see rally news).
Joining Naylor in returning is Aaron Mcclure. The quick Mitsubishi Lancer E9 driver has never shied away from a good push, but will be looking to add consistency to his campaign after calling last year’s attack a day after a roll on the Somerset Rally. Both will be contenders for the class crown.
The other element is the sheer development of the two particular drivers in the championship last year.
Andy Davies and ace young co-driver Max Freeman exploded onto the scene in their Subaru Impreza in their first full year in the BTRDA in their Subaru. A class win on the Plains was a particular highlight on their way to a last-stage decider with the ever-present Russ Thompson and Andy Murphy, who return this year.
Couple them with Richard Hill and Paul Britton and you have what will likely be one of the closest championships anywhere in rallying in 2017.