2013 event winners and reigning Eurocars Motorsport Manx Rally Champions Arron Newby and Rob Fagg (Subaru) will look to take a major step towards retaining the title on this weekends Rally Isle of Man National.
The event has attracted 35 registered Manx Championship crews, an encouraging sign after entries have struggled on recent events. The rally forms a double header round of the series, with points awarded on Friday afternoon and at the finish.
VP Fuels/Pirelli/Beatsons Building Supplies TEG Sport driver Newby, from Carnforth in Lancashire, is still only 19 years-old but has amassed a string of event victories throughout the UK over the last two years. Despite having a quieter time in recent months, he and Fagg top the standings after victory on the 4Hire Jurby Stages in March and a fifth place finish on May’s National Rally.
There is plenty of opposition however, with several drivers keen to push Newby all the way.
Former champion Nigel Cannell has actually entered the main Rally Isle of Man event as his Star Services Mitubishi Evo IX is not modified so can meet the requirements, but it is against Newby that he’ll look to match his times as well as the leading BRC drivers. A top ten finish in May’s difficult conditions showed glimpses of the pace to stick with the leading pack.
Steve Colley/Andrew Cowley finished third last year, just four tenths of a second behind former winner Steve Quine after a fantastic final day scrap. The Specialized Glazing Solutions Mitsubishi Evo IX crew actually led Newby early on at Jurby and finished just 7s behind on the National, so the pace is there for sure and it makes the battle all the more mouthwatering.
You also have to add in Connor Corkill’s Subaru. Connor completed May right behind Colley, and was the star of the final day twelve months ago, really getting to grips with Japanese machine and taking a string of stage wins, ultimately missing the podium by just 14s. The highly experienced Paul McCann, who won Rallee Classicagh last year with Ryan Barrett, could be just the spur to have Connor right in the mix.
Stonehaven’s Barry Groundwater, with Neil Shanks (Mitsubishi Evo IX) scored a top 20 on Barry’s Manx debut in May and are back with ambition, whilst Stu Bainbrough/Charlotte Shimmin have been carrying out plenty of upgrades on their Evo III.
The two-wheel drive battle will be no less fierce. Crowd pleaser and hard charger Martyn Jones is the highest seed with Martin Burns in his giant-killing Vauxhall Nova.
Peter Jackson (Preston) and James Whittaker, former National B category winners of the Manx National are next up in their Ford Escort, followed by the ultra consistent Kex Walker/Dannii Matthews, whose BMW 325 is one of around ten examples of the rear-wheel drive German machines on the entry list.
The Trophy Rally, which takes in Friday night and Saturday’s tests, sees the return of former leading driver Scott Bradshaw. Scott has built a Honda CRX on a £1500 budget to prove it can be done, and this will be his first serious rally in almost 20 years. Main opposition comes from Will Heavey/Adam Yates (BMW E30).
That’s possibly the hallmark of this Rally Isle of Man throughout it’s entry lists…the prospect of close competition in a wide variety of machinery abounds. It should all add up to a great spectator attraction. Enjoy!
Contact Rally Isle of Man:
Chris Boyde, Rally Isle of Man Media firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)7624 476 608
Or Rally Isle of Man Office email@example.com +44 (0)1624 852 440