Carlisle Cracker for Championship Curtain Raiser

Osian Pryce
Next weekends Pirelli Carlisle R B Foundation Rally has all the ingredients required to provide a fantastic opening round as the curtain rises on the 2014 MSA British Rally Championship, the long established event featuring fantastic, fast stages in the world famous Kielder Forest, a high profile start and finish venue and a superb new service area, both located slap bang in the heart of the historic border city, a great, new “Welcome Centre”, located just yards from the M6 motorway and the added bonus of enthusiastic backing from major tyre manufacturer Pirelli and the enthusiastic support of the local city council. Almost 100 will be lining up outside Carlisle’s Old Town Hall for the official start, the “Young Guns” vying for British Championship honours will lead the field away but the entry list is boosted by a fantastic entry of iconic rally cars competing in the Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship and there will also be intense competition amongst the runners competing in two local series, the SG Petch/ANECCC and the Solway Car Club Five of Clubs series. Young Welsh ace and 2013 championship runner-up, Osian Pryce, will lead the field away in his Citroen DS3, in fact Citroens dominate the top ten seeds with only Gary Pearson (Peugeot 208), and the Ford Fiestas of Dean Rafferty and Aaron McClure providing variety. There is more of a mix amongst the NGK Spark Plugs BRC Challenge crews and, although leading seed Richard Sykes is Citroen mounted, Dick Archer will be out in his familiar Opel Corsa, along with Neil Mathews (Vauxhall Nova), Ross Hunter (Peugeot 205), Mark Gamble (Suzuki Swift) and Graeme Sherry (Renault Clio). The cars will be on show in Carlisle City Centre form 9:30 am this Saturday, prior to the Mayor dropping the starters flag to send them on their way. The opening day sees 6 stages in the Kielder Forest complex, there should be some fantastic, fast, action over gravel tracks that the rally’s Clerk of the Course describes as, “Like a motorway, the smoothest I’ve ever seen them”. There will be a mid day break and a chance to repair any damage at the event’s new “Service Area”, located at Brunton Park, the home of Carlisle United FC and within easy walking distance of the city centre. Day Two, the “Sunday Run”, will feature 4 more stages, all located in Kershope Forest, before the crews head back to Carlisle, the winning crew mounting the top step of the podium round about 12:30.