For the past 16 years, Neil Simpson has been touring the vast Kielder Forest on two wheels – fitness training on his mountain bike in England’s largest working forest. But next weekend he puts away his lycra and swops his bike for a Skoda Fabia R5 rally car which is sure to up the pace he normally travels over the miles of gravel roads. This will be the fifth time that Simpson, a 44 year old Skoda UK dealer principal from Clitheroe has contested the Pirelli Carlisle Rally – and the Skoda will be the fifth different car that he has used, he has never failed to finish the rally but a 12 year sabbatical from rallying means that that last time he drove through Kielder in anger was back in the year 2000, on that occasion he was lying third in the rally when he was forced to stop to change a puncture which dropped him down the leader board to eventually finish 10th. Simpson is keen to extend his Pirelli Carlisle Rally finishing record and score some points having retired on the opening two rounds of this year’s British Rally Championship, his early exit from the recent Circuit of Ireland event being particularly disappointing as he had played his “Joker” which would have enabled him to score double points. Neil Simpson quipped, “After the start we’ve had to this year’s British Rally Championship, the Pirelli is definitely a rally we need to finish!. The last time I was in Kielder Forest in a rally car was sixteen years ago but I do go mountain biking up there so at least it will feel familiar – albeit I will be travelling at a much faster speed than usual. Whilst reaching the finish is a must and is something the entire team is focused on achieving, I would like to finish in the top ten. The competition is tough but I think that is a realistic aim, we just need to turn our luck around and have a trouble free run”.