Bulldog Historic Rally Preview
Kololi Beach Club MSA British Historic Rally ChampionshipThe battle for the 2012 Kololi Beach Club MSA British Historic Rally Championship continues on classic Welsh gravel stages like Dyfi and Gartheiniog on the Bulldog Historic Rally (Saturday 24 March).A field of 65 cars will line-up in Welshpool for round two of the championship and tremendous battles are set to rage across all three categories and within the classes.Category OneThe contest in Category One is sure to be one of the big stories of the 2012 BHRC season after a mighty battle on the opening round, the Mid Wales Historic Stages, three weeks ago. With at least six potential category winners, it was Paul Mankin and Desmond Bell who came out on top in their Lotus Cortina.However, Rikki Proffitt and Phill Harrison set the early pace in their Porsche 911, only to suffer dramas when a front brake calliper failed. The North Wales crew will be going all out for victory on their home event of the season.Well in contention were Simon Wallis and Graham Wride, once they had fixed a carburettor problem with their Lotus Cortina, while Graham Waite and Gill Cotton were as quick as ever until retiring the spectacular Volvo Amazon in the Myherin stage.Other contenders include the trio of Porsche 911s in the hands of Terry Brown/John Stanger-Leathes, Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride and Derek Boyd/Peter Scott. Brown had a run of problems last time out, but should be very strong this time around, while the flying Ford Anglia of Peter Stimson/Mark Butler will be chasing the more powerful cars and setting the Class B3 pace against the Ford Cortina GT of Callum Barney/Ron Channon.A welcome addition to the Category One entry will be two cars in Class B1. Geoff Taylor/Steve Greenhill (Sunbeam Imp Sport) will go up against championship newcomers Nigel and Henry Webster (Singer Chamois) in a battle of the 1-litre cars.Category TwoThe week leading up to the opening rally of the season was pretty stressful for Julian Reynolds with a rush to get his Escort Mk1 ready. But the hard work paid off as Julian and Patrick Walsh won Category Two in style to get their title bid off to a perfect start. Reynolds will be aiming to build on that result on the Bulldog and, if he has a clear run, he will be very tough to beat.Leading the chase of Reynolds will be current champions David Stokes and Guy Weaver, and Stokes is aiming to up his pace after a measured start on the Mid Wales. Packing out Class C5, and aiming to challenge Stokes, will be Rupert Lomax/David Alcock and father and son crew Ernie and Will Graham, all in rapid Ford Escort Mk1s. Building their pace as they acclimatise to BDA power in their Escort will be Andrew Siddall and Carl Williamson, while Peter Smith and Paul Wakely join the C5 pack after missing the opening round.Among the Pinto-powered Escort Mk1s, Dick Slaughter and Tim Sayer scored a commanding Class C3 victory last time out. Trying to topple the ever-sideways Slaughter will be more Escorts in the hands of Mark Holmes/Tony Lindsay and Wayne Bonser/Richard Aston. Class C3 also offers variety as, along with the Escort of Ian Drummond/Hu Kent, it also includes the Porsche 914 of Richard Morgan/Keith Fellowes and the Saab 96 of Hugh and Debby Myers.In Class C2, the battle will be between the Escort Mk1s of Matt Fowle/Jane Edgington and Nick Danks/Martin Corbett.Category ThreeA stunning field will contest Category Three, with no less than 22 BDG-powered Escort Mk2s in Class D5. Top of the pack is Nick Elliott, winner of the 2011 Bulldog, and co-driver Dave Price and they will surely be the marker on stages they know and like. But a gaggle of rapid crews will ensure that Elliott has to be on the attack from the word go.Will Onions/Dave Williams, Tim Pearcey/Neil Shanks and Alan Walker/Paul Price are running close behind Elliott and will be key rivals, along with the Vauxhall Chevette of Rob Smith/Shaun O’Gorman, which is due a clear run after a troubled time on the Mid Wales.However, the Mid Wales also showed that several relative newcomers to the BHRC are in the mix for the Category Three glory. Kevin Davies/Dale Furniss showed tremendous pace first time out and, with a more suitable seeding for the Bulldog, should be strong contenders along with Will Rowlands/Rich Jones who are long overdue some good fortune to go with their obvious pace. Another rapid Welsh crew in the hunt for Category Three are Tomas and Eurig Davies.Provided the car is ready in time, the Sunbeam Lotus of James Stait/Marcus Cartwright has Class D4 to itself and provides variety from the Escort ranks.Class D3, from a championship contenders’ point of view, should be the domain of Shawn Rayner and Declan Dear after a mighty run on the Mid Wales. Sadly a puncture cost them a strong result, but they clearly have the pace. Chasing in Class D3 will be Chris Shooter/Bev LeGood and Rex Ireland/Adrian Scadding in two more Pinto-powered Escort Mk2s.The Bulldog Historic Rally is organised by Wolverhampton and South Staffs Car Club and starts at 7am on Saturday 24 March from Welshpool.