There’ll be plenty of local interest at this weekend’s Malcolm Wilson Rally in Cumbria.
The round of the BTRDA championship will feature amongst others Bentham’s David Wright and Morecambe Car Club pair Tom Woodburn and Aaron McClure.
For Wright taking to the start of Saturday, March 7, will be his first competitive event since last year’s Malcolm Wilson event.
Wright, who will drive a Ford Focus WRC which was originally driven by Carlos Sainz in the World Rally Championship, said: “Unfortunately work commitments meant rallying had to take a back seat in 2014.
“We did a few runs at Goodwood (Festival of Speed) with the Focus last June but we’ve not had time to do any testing since then so it will be a pretty steep learning curve at the weekend.
“The car is a big step up in performance from our previous Mitsubishi Evo 9 and there are a lot of different settings to get to grips with.
“Our aim for the event is to get plenty of mileage in the car so we’ll be driving for a finish but I’m sure my co-driver Michael Wilkinson will be pushing us on.
“The rally uses some of my favourite stages such as Grizedale forest and it is one I have had some good results on in the past so hopefully we will get our season off to a good start.”
Co-driver Woodburn is hopeful he and driver Tom Walster will be able to bounce back from an early bath on the season opening Wyedean Forest Stages.
Woodburn and Walster showed comparable pace to the class leaders before being forced to retire with a broken differential.
The 20-year-old said: “It was disappointing, Tom and I could have done with the mileage as it was the first time we had sat together in action, but the stage we completed felt good and despite it being the first time we’ve sat together in action, there is a rapport between us already.
“We’re really keen to get some points on the board this weekend and we will have a conversation this week to decide if we go all out and try and win the 1400 class or if we treat it as more of a test and just drive for a finish in light of the mechanical problems we’ve had.”
McClure, also a member of Kirkby Lonsdale Motor Club, heads to the Cockermouth-based event in his newly-acquired Group N Mitsubishi Evo 9.
He will be joined again this year by the vastly experienced Elliott Edmondson who takes up the co-driver’s position.
Whilst missing the series opener in February was unvoidable, McClure remains level-headed about his expectations in the Lake District Forests.
He said: “It will be really important to build up my pace throughout the rally and getting to the end is a must for our championship aspirations this year.
“I need to drive my own rally and not concentrate too much on my position until I feel totally comfortable with the car and its set up. It will be an interesting first stage.”
The rally will take place over eight tough stages in the Cumbrian forests and crews who successfully complete the event will finish at the Rheged Centre near Penrith.