30 May Neil Howard Stages Preview
The MN Circuit Rally Championship combines with the first round of the 2021 British Rally Championship in spectacular style for this year’s Neil Howard Stages at Oulton Park.
The result is an enormous entry list – over 150 in fact.
Leading a seeded list packed with R5 machinery is last year’s event winner Steve Simpson, who wll have competition from all angles with BRC stalwarts Matt Edwards and Rhys Yates right on his tail looking to take the spoils in their own particular battle for the top spot.
The biggest spoiler to the latter duo is another Ford Fiesta contingent, Frank Bird, who pushed Yates to the flag in the previous MNCRC outing at Snetterton as he switches again to the R5 he bonded with so well in Norwich. Bird has both championships to now think of, after a great start to the season with a first and a second in the books.
37 entrants will be in contention for honours in BRC, Oli Mellors breaking the trend of FIesta R5 machinery by bringing back his Proton Iris, while Edwards fields a Volkswagen Polo looking to add to his roll of successes.
Edwards has been assisting another MNCRC frontrunner to watch out for, Mark Kelly, who is gelling with his new R5 Fiesta very well with two podiums and a raft of experience will help him take the fight to his rivals.
The Oulton visit sees returnees also; John and Alex Stone are back after years of frontrunning efforts in MNCRC, as is the reigning champion Barry Morris who enters his first event of the season in the Darian T90 GTR that grabbed the title last year.
Rob Hughes, Kevin Proctor and Paul Murro will be among the chasers in their own Fiesta equipment, while the remaining MNCRC classes will provide excitement of their own kind, particularly in a cramped circuit which will require judgement and attack.
Chris Ruck and Christopher Newton are both frequent class winners at the moment in their Opel and Vauxhall whips, while Cathy Sewart returns to the stages in the fabulously nostalgic Lotus Talbot Sunbeam.
Event organisers, Bolton-Le-Moors Car Club, have rejigged the stages to ensure more competitors can access the stages. Due to this, the rally will revert from nine to eight stages. The last stage, which normally takes place in the dark in November, will decrease milage by just 2 miles.
Enjoy your Bank Holiday – we’ll promise you it will be a sideways one!