It’s still all to play for as the Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship heads to the LDV Donington Rally for the season finale.
MNCRC points leader Barry Morris says “it’s not over yet” despite being in the hot seat for this season’s crown ahead of the Donington Park finale. Consistency has been key for regular frontrunner Morris, an incident at Cadwell Park in November being his only blip during an otherwise very strong season for the Darrian T90 GTR driver. “We can only go there and do what we’ve been doing all season”, he said, holding a 10-point overall lead over Paul Murro who waits in the wings in his Ford Escort Mk2 after an equally consistent campaign.
The latter has a dropped score to take, but could still be in contention if Morris slips up. A poor result would also give Richard Wells the chance to overturn a 24-point deficit in a new Ford Fiesta R5 that will be in contention for a podium finish and D2 class title spoils at Donington.
Five-time MNCRC rally winner Frank Bird is back to try and add a fifth win of the season in his Ford Focus WRC07 with Jack Morton, but their recent Anglesey retirement unfortunately put him out of the title picture. He will have company from Peter Smith / Patrick Walsh who finished second in this rally last year to son Guy.
Mike Taylor (Lotus Sunbeam) and Stephen Tilburn (Escort) remain outsiders for the title, Taylor’s strong season start recently suffering from misfortune at Anglesey when the Lotus endured water pipe issues. Team-mate Cathy Sewart has enjoyed a strong season also, and is now firm favourite for class C honours after her Anglesey success. The class title will go down to the wire and her chaser Mike English will hope luck reverts itself at Donington, after a diff drama put pay to a potential victory in Wales.
Just 18 points cover four competitors in the intense class B battle after Ashleigh Morris’ second win came in Wales. Mark Peterson’s Citroen C2 has played the consistency card, and therefore leads Paul Gorge’s Paul Sheard-backed Mazda MX5 and multiple winner Chris Ruck, the latter arguably favourite in his Opel Corsa after taking the most class wins of the quartet.
Class A is a straight fight between Ron Walker’s Ford Puma and Nissan Micra driver Adam Ripper. Separated by 20 points, Walker has one more win with four to his name this season, including a confidence-inspiring Anglesey success to stop the rot after Ripper put on a charge with three wins in the new year.
The featured image is Barry Morris / Tom Hutchings at the season opening event, the Neil Howard Stages, where they came 6th overall. [photo by Steve Mckenna]