The Pirelli Carlisle Rally, which runs on Saturday 30th April, will see a class field of over 50 contenders battle for honours over the dusty forest tracks of the giant Kielder Forest and with all the top contenders in the Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship ready for action it is difficult to predict who will cross the Carlisle finish line in first place. The opening rounds of the series have seen some incredibly tight finishes and over the two rounds already run, only a mere 43 seconds have separated the leading crew, Jason Tauber Pritchard/Phil Clarke ( Ford Escort RS1800 ) from their nearest challengers Nick Elliott/Dave Price (Ford Escort ) and with Elliott a former winner of the Pirelli Carlisle Historic Rally it might just be his turn to take the honours. The Escort of Joe Price/Chris Brookes has taken the “Bronze Medal” position on the opening round s and he won’t be far behind, nor will be Paul Barrett/Max Freeman, the current class D3 leaders. The dark horse in the field could be the evergreen Steve Bannister, a perennial winner on Kielder based events for many years, Bannister could well upset the championship regulars and they will be watching his times with interest. The Pirelli Carlisle Rally features a wide variety of makes within its ranks, Matthew Robinson/Sam Collis (Fiat 131S ) have been going well on the opening rounds, Phil Harris/Graham Wild will be looking to hold on to the Class B2 lead in their Mini Cooper, the ageless Bob Bean brings his dominant class B4 Ford Lotus Cortina while Elliott Retallick (Hillman Avenger ) will need to be on top form to take the class C1/2 points from the quick Ford Escort Sport of Stuart and Linda Carris. More sights and sounds of yesteryear will be provided by the Opel Ascona of Peter Smith/Allan Walker, Guy Anderson/Steven Davey in a Sunbeam Lotus, David Kynaston/Andy Russell bring the unmistakable sound of a TRiumph TR8 while one driver who is always a hit with the fans is 5 time’s British Rally Champion, Jimmy McRae who will be sharing the big Vauxhall Magnum with Pauline Gullick. The Historic section of the Pirelli Carlisle Rally leaves the Borderway Auction Mart at 8:00am and heads to the Kielder Forest complex for the two opening special stages. After a quick service halt at the Hawkhirst Scout Centre on the shores of Kielder Water, the cars will tackle a further two stages before heading back to Carlisle with the first car scheduled to cross the finishing line at 1:30pm.