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GP Week : Issue 6
WRC INSIGHT >> THE opening round of the 2008 Tesco 99 Octane British Rally Championship starts this Friday evening in Carlisle, 50 years after the national rally championship was inaugurated, in 1958. In addition to the overall series, which is for all homologated rally cars below World Rally Car level, this anniversary season features a variety of extra categories. These include a new one-make Suzuki challenge using cars which can be leased for the event, and for Citroen C2s, while attached to the subsidiary Clubman’s event is the one-make series for Fiesta ST cars, running with bi-ethanol fuel. There will be cash prizes in every class with a promise of a fully funded drive with Pirelli in 2009. A special attraction for this year’s series is the chance for British drivers to match themselves against overseas competitors, headed by Patrik Flodin from Sweden. Visiting guest drivers on the opening event include Juho Hanninen from Finland, in a Mitsubishi Evo IX, and the European champion Simon Jean-Joseph, in a Citroen C2 R2 Max. Features of the series continue to be the control tyres from Pirelli and the control specialist fuel from Tesco. Top British competitors registered for the championship are the two official Mitsubishi drivers Guy Wilks (the reigning champion) and Philip Morrow (who earned his seat in the team by winning last season’s Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge). Also in an Evo IX is last year’s Star driver winner Darren Gass. Their rivals in orthodox Group N cars are the TEG Sport team Subarus driven by Patrik Flodin and Wyn Humphreys with former champion David Higgins and his team-mate Hugh Evans at the wheel of the TQ.com team Subaru N14s as well. All of these will be ranged against Super 2000 MGs of three-times champion Mark Higgins and Stuart Jones. The championship events offer something for everyone. Backing up the national championship event in Carlisle will be a Historic Rally, a national Clubman’s event running just on the Saturday stages, and finally an event for Land Rovers. There are stages running into Friday night, then an overnight halt before the rally continues through Saturday and finishes back in Carlisle at 6pm. Preparations have been proceeding apace. Two weeks before the Pirelli Rally, both MGs were busy on shakedown rallies - at the opposite ends of the country! Jones went to Wales for the Red Dragon Rally, Mark Higgins went to the Border Counties Rally in North England. Before Pirelli, other visitors expected in Wales are Flodin to acclimatise himself to his new Subaru N14 and the former Citroen front-wheel driver Darren Gass checking out his Mitsubishi with fellow Ulsterman Kris Meeke. Preview: 2008 Tesco 99 Octane British Rally Championship 37