To follow on from last week, I will now preview the classes in the International Field and the National Rally.
The R2 Category is almost going to be as hotly contested as the main rally, with 26 starters in the International section and 12 of them registered for the ERC, it is difficult to guess who will be victorious, but I think the winner will come from one of the following drivers; Chris Ingram, Steve Rokland, Rob Duggan & Callum Devine.
Unlike the R2 class, the R3 category is very poorly supported, with only one crew making the start. Joao Correia, in his R3 Clio, makes the trip from Portugal, so fingers crossed he gets a good run and makes the finish ramp on Saturday afternoon.
The R4 category is a lot more open, with two ERC registered crews and nine others. Favourite for the win has to be Philip Morrow in his Evo 9. Sure to be on a big push will be the two ERC registered crews of Daniel Dymurski in a Subaru N16, and Paolo Zanini in an Evo X, although I’m not sure if they have the ultimate pace of Morrow. Some others who will be in the shake up for the podium are Patrick O’Brien & Matt Edwards.
The National Rally
With only one World Rally Car in the line-up for the National Rally, Derek McGarrity has to be considered hot favourite for the title, but rumours are circulating that he won’t make the start! This leaves the battle for victory wide open, with the weather likely to play a pivotal role. If the roads are wet, four-wheel drive will be a big advantage for guys like Robert Blomberg in the Mirage R5 or Ollie Mellors in the Proton S2000. If the roads are dry or only damp, the Millington powered Escorts of Wesley Patterson, Keith White, and Frank Kelly will be hard to beat. If Derek McGarrity starts it’s his to lose.
So prediction time!!!
Overall, I am torn between my heart and my head. My head says Elfyn Evans and my heart is screaming Keith Cronin or Craig Breen, so hopefully the heart rules the head and we get a home victory, as this will be the icing on the cake to an absolutely fantastic event.
In the R2 class I think Chris Ingram will be in with a very big shout of taking victory, closely followed by Rob Duggan.
In GpN I can see this going to one of our European visitors, as it seems highly unlikely that Philip Morrow will make the start.
This week has been short, but it has been a busy one, with the chance to see some of the main contenders getting valuable test miles in. Also, trying to find locations that are not only safe, but will help to show the beauty of the area isn’t easy and takes time. It is very clear by the reaction and photos that drivers completing the recce have uploaded to social media that they love the stages and the scenery. So it’s all systems go and hopefully everyone has a fantastic rally and remembers to listen to all safety instructions.