16 Nov Preview: Round 2 – NHMC Cadwell Park Stages
Season four of the MNCRC kicked off in fine style at Oulton Park just over two weeks ago, and is likely to continue in that same vain this weekend as the NHMC Cadwell Park Stages takes centre stage.
Another strong field boasts over 90 entrants for the championship’s first of two visits to Cadwell, led by the experienced John Stone who bedded in his new Ford Fiesta RS WRC at Oulton.
Stone fought to fifth place in an event largely dominated by the Blue Oval, although Neil Howard Stages winner Kevin Procter will be absent here. Stone will hope for no altercations this weekend, however, after an infamous coming together with Chris West happening the last time the pair visited Cadwell Park.
Reigning champions West and Keith Hounslow will hope to hit back strongly this weekend. Without his regular co-driving partner for the season opener and with a brand new engine and tyres, West used the opening rally of the season as a test session for his Peugeot 306 MAXI which is infinitely faster than last years. Despite that he salvaged a strong sixth place finish at Oulton and comes to a circuit he enjoys having finished runner-up last year.
Ford will still be represented strongly by Guy Smith and Patrick Walsh, while the Ford Escort MK2 is again spotted out in numbers. Rob Cox and Mike English will be competitive in Class C so keep an eye out for both as they jostle for top championship points against a variety of opposition.
Joshua Davey was unable to make the season opener in the troublesome Darrian, but an appearance would attract attention as the car is a proven rally winner. Similarly, Cathy Sewart’s nostalgic Talbot Sunbeam Lotus will be out to spoil the party for all three.
A look at the Classes
Class B is always a close contest and Oulton Park proved no exception.
The rally came down to a three-horse race between Vauxhall, Mazda and Citroen for class honours, which went the way of the former. With winner Ryan Burns absent on this occasion, export Chris Woodhouse and the returning Paul Sheard to be fighting for maximum points, while Ashleigh Morris will want her first win after mechanical problems denied her the chance in the Neil Howard Stages.
Class A gives a chance for smaller machinery to have its moment in the limelight. David McMullan was denied the chance for grab maximum championship points by driveshaft failure in the season opener, while a mixed field gives the chance for the Toyota Yaris of Craig Aston to show its true colours.
Watch out also for the MG of Dale Lawson in a varied class of cars also representing Ford, Chevrolet, FIAT and even Mini thanks to Sir Andrew McAlpine’s glorious old-school Cooper S.
Enjoying his outing in the season opener, BRDC and MSA Board Director Nick Whale returns for more in his spectacularly-liveried super touring BMW M3. Williams fans of the mid-90s watch out for that car especially.
With a varied entry list and some top Championship competitors in action expect another rally littered with thrills and spills this weekend. Cadwell Park is a firm favourite on the rally calendar.
Words: Dan Mason