This weekend’s Carlisle based Pirelli International Rally gets the MSA Prestone British Rally Championship off to a flying start and what a thrilling “Border Battle” it promises to be with a host of top contenders amongst the huge 140 car field. There is loads of quality amongst the entry and, given the multitude of hazards the fast Kielder stages can throw up, it would be difficult to predict a winner. The field will be led away by Four times British champion Keith Cronin in a new Hyundai i20, the Irishman a two time Pirelli winner, but he will certainly be pushed by Dumfries Skoda driver David Bogie, also a former Pirelli winner who tuned up for the Pirelli by taking a comfortable victory on last weekends Speyside Stages. Also, Skoda mounted is Marty McCormack, another driver who knows the Kielder stages well, having previously won the Pirelli Historic Rally in a Ford Escort, while another Skoda driver, Rhys Yates took third place on the Speyside, missing out on the runners-up spot by just 0.3 of a second. Another crew who can’t be overlooked are local stars, Peter Taylor/ Andrew Roughead, this duo won the event in 2015 and will certainly be on the pace in their Ford Fiesta WRC. There is international interest on the event, particularly amongst the British Junior Championship where Norwegian drivers Steve Rockland and Oscar Solberg (Nephew of 2003 World Champion Petter ) come up against last seasons front runners William Creighton, Callum Devine and Marty Gallagher while the BRC Cadet class sees an entry for Icelander Gunnar Karl Johannesson. The Pirelli International Rally will be based at H & H Borderway Mart, just off junction 43 of the M6 while the rallies special stages are all situated in the massive Kielder Forest complex, the rally finishing with a spectacular, early evening, town centre ceremony in Brampton main street where there will be numerous attractions to entertain the crowds while they wait for the cars to arrive.