Suzuki Swift kicks off in Kielder

Pirelli International Rally starts the season

The inaugural Suzuki Swift Sport Cup kicks off this weekend with the seven crews tackling the infamous Kielder and Kershop Forest complexes in the Pirelli International Rally, winner of the prestigious Rally of the Year award at last year’s Championship Awards Ceremony.  Run over two days, the drivers and co-drivers will face some of the fastest gravel stages in Britain including four night stages. 

Based on the popular 1.6-litre 123hp Suzuki Swift Sport hot-hatch, the cars have been identically built by Monster Sport Europe and will make a significant impact on their arrival. The cars have been modified to enable them to tackle the toughest terrain they will face this year with upgraded suspension, brakes and safety modifications.

All the crews will be trying to win the title and prize of a fully-funded drive on this year’s Wales Rally GB in a works Suzuki Swift Super 1600, like the one driven by current Suzuki World Rally Team Driver, Per-Gunnar Andersson to win the 2007 Junior World Rally Championship.

The competing crews come from England, Ireland, Scotland and Denmark, with the Danish Motorsport Federation identifying both the British Rally Championship and Swift Sport Cup as the best way to develop their young talented driver, Niki Bjerg.  Niki will be co-driven by fellow Dane Arly Larsen as they tackle their first event in the UK.

Fighting hard behind them will be the Irish pair of Ross and Arron Forde who have been competing with their new car in Ireland in preparation for the series, along with the English husband and wife team of Richard and Emma Boot and the near-namesake Scottish pairing of Gordon Nichol and Jane Nicol. 

The youngest driver in the series is 19-year old Nick Rowland who will be co-driven by Tim Sturla.  Nick has been receiving tuition and guidance from 2003 overall British Champion David Higgins and will compete under the FX Motorsports banner. 

Adding to the championship will be Evo Magazine’s road test editor Henry Catchpole who only recently attained his competition licence.  His exploits will be documented throughout the year both in print and on-line. The latest addition to the Cup is Wolverhampton-based Mark Gamble in the Jam Motorsport car.  Mark competed on last year’s BRC Challenge series and has some knowledge of the stages the competitors will face.

Suzuki GB Motorsport Manager Ian Robinson comments: ‘It’s been a lot of hard work to get here, but we’re convinced that we have created the best one-make series ever in British Rallying and have a group of drivers that will provide close-fought competition all year.’

The cars will leave Carlisle on Friday evening at 7.30pm to tackle four stages and then having been serviced at Carlisle Airport, tackle 10 more tests on Saturday before returning to Carlisle for the podium ceremonies at 6.30pm.