Fast and famous Kielder faces the Fiestas
Date published : 15 Apr 2009 - 10:04:50
The third round of the Kick Energy Fiesta Sport Trophy takes place next weekend at the Pirelli International Rally, also round two of the MSA British Rally Championship. Crews head to the border town of Carlisle for the event, which again will utilise the FST’s dual format for the second time this year. With the option of entering either the National event or the International event crews can score points in the BRC Challenge or the BRC as well as the FST.
18 registered Fiesta STs will take to the start of the event, with ten crews entering the International event and the remaining eight competing in the BRC challenge event. The Challenge event will see the competitors tackle 51 miles over 6 stages in some of the most iconic forests in the north of the UK including the infamous Kielder complex and Kershope Forest. The International event covers 12 demanding stages of the event giving the crews 102 miles of exciting stages. The FST results will be declared at the end of the Challenge event (stage 6) Both events give the added experience of night stages on Friday evening, an added spectacle not often seen in modern day rallying.
Championship leader Matt Edwards (24) from Cockermouth will lead the challenge crews away from Carlisle Racecourse with regular navigator Andy Murphy. Edwards won the second round of the FST with an impressive performance on his only second ever event in a Fiesta ST. Edwards will again be trying to take home a winning trophy and prove that the added bonus of a recce that the International competitors are eligible to complete is not always the advantage it can be perceived to be.
Stevie Brown (21) from Peterhead and navigator Andrew Roughead, have decided to enter the shorter event for this round, after a difficult start to the year Stevie will be looking to get back onto the podium after his round one overall win during the 2008 series.
John Boyd (22) from West Linton and navigator Fred Bell make a return for their first attempt at night stages and after a promising finish on the Bulldog, 11th overall in the FST and 3rd overall in the Challenge event he will look to improve further in his first season in the Fiesta ST.
Harry Hunt (20) from London, was recently involved in a quad bike accident and will come to the event after taking some time to recover. Hunt, who is also in his first year of the championship, and also first year of rallying altogether is making good progress. After a continued testing programme and competing in as many rallies as possible to gain valuable seat time, the youngster has his aims set on scoring a podium position as soon as possible.
Robert Barrable (21) from Dublin, was setting promising times on the previous round of the series, the first time out in his newly acquired car, however an off on put an end to an ideal start in the series, something he will be keen to rectify on this event.
Neil Coalter (26) from Peterculter and co-driver Hannah Cessford have had an unlucky start to the season with two retirements on the first two rounds. The pairing are desperate for their first finish and to get some points on the board to try and get their championship attack back on target.
The final two drivers in the Challenge section of the rally are Tom Watson (18) from Glanamman, and Jamie Brown (17) from Norwich. Watson and Brown are both newcomers to the series and with very little rally experience under their belts they are both using this season to work on their pace with both having the main aim of getting to the end of the event.
The remainder of the crews in the event are entered in the International Rally. With the added stage mileage crews will be looking to score not only FST event points but also BRC championship points. The first of the runners in the field is Kris Hall (19) from Appleby, Cumbria and stand in navigator for this event, Barry McNulty. Hall had an off par event on Round 2 of the series after suffering a puncture and hitting a gate post, after struggling to keep up with Edwards the best he could manage was fourth. He will hope to repeat his Round one performance at the event with his second podium top spot of the year.
Second in this event is Craig Breen (18) from Waterford and navigator Gareth Roberts. With Breen freshly returning from Portugal, the fourth round of the WRC, where he finished 25th Overall as well as first in class, and first FST competitor in the Fiesta SportTrophy International series as well as first overall on the second round of the Irish series, The Circuit of Ireland Breen will hope the Pirelli will bring him as much luck and present him with his first win on UK soil.
After quoting “I miss the championship too much” Tom Walster (23) from Nottingham has decided to enter the series as a one off whilst his new rally car is on the way to an event in Belgium. Walster has been a regular in the series since its inception and is vastly experienced in the car; he could well be a wild card during the event and one to watch in trying to upset the regular runners.
The Irish contingency remains strong on the event with Mark Donnelly (17) from Omagh and co-driver Paddy Robinson, Kyle Orr (19) from Dromore and navigator Rob Fagg, Billy Coleman Award Winner Ross Forde (25) from Galway with navigator Gary McElhinney and Barry Greer (21) from Carryduff. Donnelly finished second overall on the Circuit of Ireland rally last weekend and set overall fastest stage times on his way, with such a short space of time between events Donnelly will aim to be in the same frame of mind and repeat his recent performance. Orr meanwhile has had a good solid start to the UK FST series. With a third on round one and a fourth on round two he lies fourth overall in the series and will hope to creep higher up the standings this weekend. Forde is only starting to get to grips with the ST and will aim to gain more valuable miles in the car this weekend whilst improving on his sixth overall on round two. Greer has also had a steady start to the season and will want to continue this during the Pirelli.
Stefan Davis from Aylesford had a troubled run on the second round of the series but managed to battle through the field to finish 15th overall. After leading the first round of the series on the Malcolm Wilson rally before unfortunately retiring he will look to get back to the front of the field in the fast Kielder forest tracks.
Manx Motorsport Youth Trust Driver Martyn Jones (22) and navigator Kris Killip suffered an off on round two which dropped them down the running order but have the potential speed to be among the top runners.
The final entrants to the event are New Zealander’s Patrick Malley (24) from Auckland and co-driver Malcolm Read. The pairing make another mammoth trip over to the UK to compete and will hope to get further than their first stage retirement on round two.
The Kick Energy FST UK has a prize fund in excess of £18,000, with £750 for the winner of each round down to £75 for eighth place.
Championship Leader, Matt Edwards, said:
“We are obviously very happy with the start we have made to the season in a new car, and delighted to be leading the two championships we are contesting. Kielder is a daunting place at the best of times, so it’s going to be an immense experience to tackle it for the first time as my first ever night stage as well! Our main goal really is to still be leading both series by the end of the rally, so it maybe that we do not need to push for a win as the key to a good result here is going to be staying out of trouble.”