The Donington Rally on Sunday has attracted a capacity entry of 80 cars with crews coming from all over the UK.
Running Car 1 is Guy Smith and Patrick Walsh in a Ford Fiesta R5. They won the Rainworth SKODA Dukeries Rally here in August and have won several other similar events. Guy was until recently a Bentley Racing Team driver with a Le-Mans 24 victory and an ALM Championship to his name, whilst Patrick is one of the most experienced rally co-drivers in the UK. This crew certainly have the pedigree.
However, the form team at the moment are the reigning Champions and current leaders of this seasons Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship, Chris West and Keith Hounslow in a Peugeot 306 Maxi Kit Car. Chris and Keith have won the last three championship events at Knockhill, Brands Hatch and Snetterton, but this is their first visit to Donington. This is no ordinary Peugeot 306; it is built for competition and has recently been upgraded with a new more powerful 2,500cc engine and seems ideally suited to the circuit based Stage Rallies.
Car 3 is Peter Smith and John Millington in the Swift Group supported Ford Fiesta WRC. Third at Donington back in August and the winner at Croft just 2 weeks ago by 7 seconds. Could this be another close call? Car was previously driver by Ott Tanak in the World Rally Championship.
Seeded at 4 are Paul and Jessica Swift in the powerful 2500cc Ford Escort Mk2. Paul is best known for his spectacular ‘precision’ driving [stunt driving on TV adverts etc] but he is the winner of many events and a 7 time British Autotest Champion. Leading this rally 2 years ago until he put it off into the gravel at Melbourne hairpin in torrential rain.
Car 6 is Martin Hodgson / Tony Jones in another 2500cc Ford Escort Mk2. It is a welcome return for this popular crew. Winners at the Anglesey Circuit and 2nd on several occasions, they will always be driving flat out! (On the entry form it says Driver hobbies – Belly Dancing)
Car 11 Joshua and Tamsyn Davey Darrian T90. This brother and sister crew come all the way from Truro. Had great results on Championship events in the past, but gearbox issues put pay to their challenge. They are finally back and will take heart from the fact that a Darrian (driven by Ashley Field) has won two previous Rainworth SKODA Dukeries Rallies here at Donington.
So, will it be a 4-wheel drive car, the super quick Peugeot Kit Car or a powerful and well driven Mk 2 Ford Escort that comes out on top? The stage routes have been designed to challenge the drivers but also give them some fun. It may come down to the weather conditions on the day. If it is wet or icy then the 4-wheel drive cars should have an advantage but if it stays dry then the lighter and more agile 2 wheel drive cars should be able to use their better power to weight ratio to great effect. We will know the winners of the Donington Rally at around 5.00pm on Sunday.
The action starts at 9.20 am and there will be seven stages of rallying at close quarters with cars starting at 30 second intervals. The full entry list can be found in the Competitor section.
Tickets are available on the gate on Sunday with reduced rates for Teenagers and Seniors and free entry for children aged under 13. For more ticket information click HERE
The 20-page Official Programme priced at just £3 includes all the stage maps, the entry list and timetable plus lots of other information.
Photos are Chris West (Peugeot 306 Kit Car) and Ray Read (Audi Quattro) from the recent Snetterton Stages. Courtesy of Steve McKenna