Following a delayed start caused by the cancellation of the Malcolm Wilson Rally due to the effects of the ‘Beast from the East’ in early March, the MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship is now in full swing and, as a class-based series, winners can come from any one of the eight different performance classes. The Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages on Saturday 1st September is now Round 3 of the Championship.
After the opening encounters there are always multiple leaders (from each class) and it’s only as the championship progresses that further success brings individuals to the fore. Having said that, after just two events, Ian Joel/Graeme Wood (Escort Cosworth) have wasted no time in stamping their authority on proceedings and lead George Lepley (Fiesta R2), Matt Edwards (Fiesta) & Ernie Graham (Escort Mk2) by two points, with Tommi Meadows (Ka) a further one adrift in the overall standings.
In the classes it is Matt Edwards and Darren Garrod who, give their recent results, have a clear lead in Class 8 WRC derivative cars whilst Ian Joel / Graeme Wood are ahead on Matthew Hirst / Decaln Dear in Class 7. Class 6 is a continuation of the Russ Thompson v Pat Naylor battle whilst Class 5 is currently been led by Damian Pratts in a 2.4 litre engine Escort.
Class 4 for cars up to 2000cc is numerically the largest class which provides greater competition but does guarantee some bonus points if you do well. Currently it is Ernie Graham / Robin Kellard who are leading the class ahead of three of the Fiesta ST crews but with Max Utting, Rob Dennis, Andy Davison and Barry Jordan also in this class it is only likely to be settled on the Wyedean.
< Ernie Graham & Robin Kellard on the recent NG Stages
Class 3 for cars up to 1600cc is unsurprisingly being dominated by George Lepley and Tom Woodburn (Fiesta R2) who have already won the BTRDA R2 Cup and with it a free entry into Wales Rally GB National Rally.
In class 2 for cars up to 1400cc it already looks as if it will be a contest between Tommi Meadows, Chris Powell, Dave Brick and Kieran Darrington, whilst Sam & Liam Johnson currently lead Class 1 for the smaller engine Rally First cars.
Tommi Meadows on the Carlisle Stages >
It is good to see that all the leading MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship competitors are among the 140 crews entered in the Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages. The full entry list can be viewed at www.woodpecker-rally.co.uk/download/EntryListB.pdf Following the MSA’s relaxation of the rules in respect of the running order on rallies, the Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages, will see all the two-wheel drive cars in the entry traversing the stages first, in reverse order, before the four-wheel drive element leave the start ‘in the order of anticipated performance’. The Woodpecker is based at Ludlow Racecourse which will be the location of the Scrutineering, Start, two Service halts and the Finish.
(Photographs courtesy of Kevin Money & Malc Almond)