24 Apr Delayed 2020-21 season gets back underway at Snetterton
After over four months of waiting, the Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship can finally get its mudflaps dirty once again with a return to the Snetterton Stages this weekend.
As part of four rallies to complete the COVID-19-affected 2020/21 season, the Norwich event brings with it a wonderful total of 97 seeded entries heading to the 300 circuit.
Leading the pack – as he did last year with a fine victory – will be Frank Bird. The GT racing youngster continued his fine form from last season with a Round One triumph in difficult conditions at Donington back in December, and both he and Jack Morton enter as firm favourites to double up.
A switch from WRC Focus to Fiesta R5 is the biggest change for Bird who has a mix of chasing household names returning for more, including 15 frotrunning Fiestas itching to take the fight to the series leader. Mark Kelly’s switch from Escort Mk2 to Fiesta R5 machinery was rewarded with a podium at Donington, and he will hope to evade the traffic with the #6 seeding after it cost him in December.
One to watch will undoubtably be Rhys Yates in his Fiesta although Kevin Procter, Rob Hughes and Paul Smith will also threaten the podium positions, with Paul Murro venturing down the R5 route on his march towards the head of the field. Robert Swann leads Subaru’s charge as the #4 seed.
The joker in the pack at seed #2 is a pairing that are no strangers to Snetterton Stages success. Former MNCRC champion Christ West – partnered by Keith Hounslow – will this time be behind the wheel of the ex-Nigel Mummery Porsche 997 GT3 car that was unfortunately plagued by gearbox problems at Donington. It’s now take two, and Snetterton’s longer, power-friendly sections will keep two-time event winner West in contention to spring the surprise that his ability more than warrants.
Christopher Newton’s unstoppable Vauxhall Nova returns as the Class A favourite, while the battle in Class B is bolstered by the return of former class champions Dale and Andrew Lawson in their much-developed MG ZR. They will give chase to the in-form current class champion, Steve Ruck, while Mark Peterson takes up the fight in a Peugeot 208 R2.
The highest seed in Class C is regular frontrunner, Josh Davey, but any dramas for the Darrian man will open the door for his Ford Escort rivals such as Josh Payton, Robin Adams and Phil House. Class D takes you back to the nostalgia years of the Escort Mk2, with Martin Hodgson the most eye-catching name alongside the experienced Nick Whale (Escort Mk2) and Mike Bayliss’ BMW Compact.
The event features eight stages across sections of the Snetterton 300 circuit and approximately 10% gravel roads. Keep up to date with action on our social media channels this Sunday 25 April.