The Pirelli-supported MSA British Rally Championship will move to Wales next weekend as competitors take part in the 54th running of the Bulldog International Rally of North Wales.
One of the most established events on the British rally calendar, the Bulldog Rally has been running since 1958. This year’s rally organisers have planned a new two-day format for the international category, in which the competitors will compete over 11 stages covering 97 competitive miles.
After an impressive show of speed on Rallye Sunseeker last month, current Pirelli Star Driver, Jukka Korhonen, will be fighting for victory on the Bulldog with the assistance of 15-inch Pirelli K6 gravel tyres.
“We tried various car set-ups on the Sunseeker,” said Korhonen, from Finland. “The car is very good, I’m feeling confident and I think I can go even faster next week. I really want to win In Wales, that’s what I’m here for, so I’ll be pushing from the start,” he added.
With the British Rally Championship adopting a two-wheel drive format only for the first time this year, Korhonen will be driving a Skoda Fabia R2 this year, in full Pirelli Star Driver branding. Korhonen was fighting for second place right up to the closing stages of the Rallye Sunseeker before being stopped by a mechanical problem.
This year’s Bulldog Rally has attracted a wealth of international interest, with entries representing 11 nationalities. A new team has also been confirmed for this year’s British Rally Championship Teams Cup, meaning a total of six squads will battle it out for the coveted title.
Davies Motorsport Services will run a two-car Citroen DS3 R3 team with Welsh drivers Osian Pryce and Tom Cave. The crews will vie for championship honors with fellow Welsh team AVS Motorsport, the Ford Junior Team Finland, Cumbria’s M-Sport Ford and Lancashire-based Pirelli TEG Sport. Representing three manufacturers – Ford, Citroen and Renault – the variety of drivers and marques is guaranteed to provide an exciting spectacle. Two other Pirelli stars competing on the event will include Molly Taylor from Australia and Alastair Fisher from Northern Ireland: both of whom made their name on the world stage through the Pirelli-backed WRC Academy.
Carl Naylor, Pirelli Tyre UK’s motorsport manager, said: “The British Rally Championship is going from strength to strength at the moment. Last month we received the news that Ford had entered as a manufacturer, and last week we heard that another team will be joining us for the rest of the season.
Naylor added: “Jukka was unlucky in the opening round of the season after he was forced to retire on the rally’s penultimate stage, but his pace was very encouraging and we all look forward to seeing how he performs on more technical stages in Wales. These roads should in theory be more suited to his driving style than the Sunseeker Rally stages.”
Pirelli has exclusively supplied the British Rally Championship with tyres since 2007. For the Bulldog Rally, the K6 gravel tyre will be supplied. Its tread blocks are designed to bite through mud and gain the maximum possible traction, both in a straight line and through corners, by rapidly dispersing surface gravel. The soft compound means that it heats up quickly even at low temperatures, which are possible in north Wales at this time of year.
Viewers at home can keep up to date with all the action from Bulldog International Rally of North Wales by tuning into Sky Sports' programme, British Rallyzone. Up to date listings can be found a week before the scheduled transmission time by visiting skysports.com/tv_guide