03 Dec Donington Park Preview
Winter is coming, and so is the third event of the 2021/22 Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship already, as Frank Bird and Neil Roskell head into battle at Donington Park for the Maxus Dukeries Rally.
Bird was the word at Oulton Park as the GT World Challenge racer claimed win number 12 of his short rally career so far in November, but his absence at Cadwell Park for Monza WRC duties gave his closest rival Roskell the opportunity he needed to grab a maiden MN Circuit Rally victory, and a one-point series lead in the process.
Number one seeds Bird and Jack Morton now have the chance to put the record straight on their return, the Durkeries event being one Bird both made his rally debut at and was victorious in when the series visited Donington last year.
Roskell comes in at number two after a popular and professional victory at Cadwell, and will give chase at an event that is as much about negociating traffic as it is rallying ability, but Bird’s Donington experience from racing will make him tough to beat once more.
Behind the two Ford Fiesta drivers in at number three will be Barry Morris. The Darrian driver clinched his title here two seasons prior and was right back on form at Cadwell Park with a brace of fastest stage times against the mighty R2 and R5 cars, and mixed weather conditions folloiwng Storm Arwen could play into his hands after two podium finishes for Mr Consistency.
Former Subaru pedaler Robert Swann enters a Fiesta Rally2 for a second rally after debuting at Abington, while Rob Hughes will be pushing for the podium with Sion Cunniff alongside him in an R5 Fiesta. Andy Scott returns but this time in a Hyundai R5 which will take on the Blue Oval, while Josh Payton’s Ford Escort Mk2 will be tough to beat in Class C after an outrageous performance at Cadwell warranted an overall podium finish.
Joshua Davey’s Darrian lasted the Cadwell visit and will push Payton throughout if reliabilty maintains itself, while the Ford Fiestas of Darrell Taylor, Nick Whale, Mike English and Paul Murro all want a piece of the frontrunning action with several of those still bedding in their new whips.
Chris Ruck is back on the entry list, and his welcome return could strike fear into the Class B competition after a brace of title wins. The Vauxhall Corsa Kit Car is his weapon of choice, but an old favourite in Paul Sheard is also out to prove a point (Mazda MX-5) alongside a healthy entry list including Richard Kay, Alex Cannon and Gary Russell who will want to pounce on class leader Ben Wilkinson’s absence.
Class A sees Laura Christmas bring a well-timed festive theme to the December event in her Austin Mini, among a class filled with variety on show. The real battle to watch will be the all-Nissan Micra duel between class championship contenders James Hardy and Kay Thompson – both separated by just four points at the moment.
Fans flocking to Donington Park will enjoy the unique sight of rally cars in full flow around one of the UK’s most famous racing circuits in both directions, with a capacity field of over 100 entries taking part across eight stages. Tickets can be bought at Donington Park’s website.