MSN Rally Championship | MSNCRC heads to Cadwell for Round 2
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MSNCRC heads to Cadwell for Round 2

After a spectacular opening first round at Oulton Park, which saw Championship history made, the MSN Circuit Rally Championship heads east as the “Mini-Nürburgring” and twisty and undulating nature of Lincolnshire’s Cadwell Park plays host to Round 2. 

The championship makes its welcome return to the forests of the popular Lincolnshire racing circuit after an absence from the calendar last season due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, a venue with rallying in its blood from visits by Rallycross and the MNCRC over the years.

Fresh from an enthralling return to the stages in the season opener at Oulton Park, early title favourites Frank Bird and Jack Morton lay down a marker with the first victory of the campaign. Victory at Oulton, which came after beating their nearest rivals by over a minute with a near-perfect string of eight stage wins from eight contested over a day of changeable conditions, meant the pair are the first rally crew to have won at every national circuit to have hosted a rally.

Their rivals, however, will take some comfort to see the pair absent from the entry list this weekend, last year’s Cadwell Park winner Bird instead taking on WRC duties at Monza.

Second in the Neil Howard Stages was a fabulous personal best performance for fellow Ford Fiesta contingent Neil Roskell, who now knows he has a real chance to break through and add a possible maiden win at Cadwell Park to his first taste of top-three champagne. Darrell Taylor also shone with a top-four effort, and will be mightily competitive in his Fiesta R2.

Others to uphold the banner for Ford include convert Mike English, who is into the second rally of his trade from elderly Escort Mk2 machinery to modern Fiesta kit. Similarly, the experienced Nick Whale impressed in his first outing in a new R5 car, and will want to threaten the podium positions on his return to Cadwell.

Those entering in a Darrian will fancy their chances also thanks to the entry list. The lighter chassis will handle the twistier forest sections well to make up for the blue oval’s grunt up the hills, and previous champion Barry Morris began his full-time comeback well with a podium at Oulton Park. Seamus Morris also impressed, while Joshua Davey’s repaired machine is always a threat – should it survive.

Mitsubishi and Subaru are well represented, while the Ford Escort Mk2 equates to 12 entries of over 90 touted for Cadwell across several classes, each with their own storylines to play out following Oulton Park.

Josh Payton enjoyed another of his regular giant-killing performances in his Ford Escort Mk2 for a Class C win, while Ryan Connolly will want revenge in his duel with Thomas Barlow; the latter’s Honda Civic beating the Ford Puma which is always spectacular to watch in the MNCRC. In Class B, series favourite Paul Sheard returns to the wheel of one of his self-prepared Mazda MX-5 rally cars to do battle with a field headed arguably by the in-form Ben Wilkinson (Peugeot 106 Maxi). 

Class A, meanwhile, is one for the smaller machinery meanwhile, with competitors bringing back the trusty Vauxhall Nova, Nissan Micra and Peugeot 106 to do battle against Ford Fiestas in a competitive class, but reigning Class A champion Christopher Newton was untouchable on the first round of his title defence. He valiantly took his Vauxhall Nova up the field into a spectacular top-15 result overall against all odds and better machinery around him.

The winter weather can often play havoc, but that won’t put off competitors and spectators who can look forward to eight stages heading into darkness across Sunday 21 November, followed by a fireworks extravaganza. Live coverage and extensive social media updates will bring all the news and gossip from the rally and will be broadcast across the MSNCRC social channels. 

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