07 Dec Round 3: Knockhill Stages Preview
As the countdown to Christmas ticks on there’s the pressing matter of finding a winner of the third Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship round of the season, as the series heads the Fife in Scotland for the 2019 Knockhill Stages.
Last year’s event went the way of reigning champion Chris West, but his absence gives the Scots a chance to make amends in front of the home supporters.
Top seeding is a good omen for John Marshall, who put in one of his best performances last season at this very event. This time, he swaps his Subaru for one of the TEG Sport’s unique Skodaru machines (an R5 with Impreza engine and transmission) and will want to taste victory on his return to the Fife circuit.
Pushing him hard will be one of Scotland’s motorsport stalwarts, Andrew Kirkaldy, who brings his Ford Escort Mk2 out to tackle the stages once again after a strong showing last year. The former British GT champion finished third after a spirited recovery drive in damp conditions, which would favour the Scot’s experience and classic machinery.
The man out to spoil the party for the local lads is circuit racer Frank Bird, paired with Jack Morton. Both are rally winners, and the young chargers have the machinery (Ford Focus WRC 07) to add a second win to their tally as a partnership.
Both Joshua Davey (Darrian T90) and Steve Tilburn (Ford Escort) fell victim to gearbox issues at Cadwell, but are back for revenge and are proven frontrunners.
Scottish junior ace Steven Hay dominated class B in his Vauxhall Corsa last year, but it will be Colin Hay that takes up the challenge of dethroning another in-form Corsa – that of the left-hand-drive Opel of Chris Ruck, who has won the class in both MN rallies contested already this season.
Ashleigh Morris joins them with a point to prove. After her spectacular accident here last year, the Ford Fiesta driver returns with silverware on her radar.
Of the usual big hitters in class C, Cadwell winner Mike English enters in the best form. He’ll have Ryan Connelly giving chase in the Ford Puma, as well as Cathy Sewart in a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus that took a fine overall podium with Mike Taylor last month.
Class A brings its usual batch of hot hatch machinery – new and old – to the mix of loose and tarmac, with Peugeot, Citroen and Vauxhall all represented alongside the rapid classic Mini of Sir Andrew McAlpine.