The revamped British Rally championship leaps back to life this weekend with the Mid Wales Stages in Newton
After a year out, to rebuild and refocus one of the most important rally championships in the world, organisers will be pleased with the 140-plus entry list.
The BRC has always been well-supported by Irish crews and it is no surprise that so many have decided to return after the 12-month hiatus.
It has helped considerably that both the BRC and the Irish Tarmac Rally Championship elected to adopt new rules and with flurry of R5 specification rally cars arriving on both sides of the Irish
Sea over the last few months there will be a lot of cross-series support over coming months.
Here we take a look at the Irish teams(in Mid Wales Stages seeded order) that are likely to feature as frontrunners in the BRC this year
2 KEITH CRONIN MIKIE GALVIN Citroen DS3
The West Cork man is a three time British Rally champion and will start as one of the favourites to capture the title at the season end- funds permitting. Armed with new co-driver Mikie Galvin, the pair are leading the Irish series after Galway and could be a solid bet for honours on both sides of the Irish Sea this year.
9 JOSH MOFFETT JOHN ROWAN Ford Fiesta R5
Another dark-horse for honours in either Ireland or Britain in the year ahead. Moffett is quick on both tarmac and gravel but lack of familiarity of British events may cause his undoing. A good bet for podium finishes on events and on the championship.
10 JONNY GREER / Kristy Riddick Citroen DS3
The Belfast driver joins Cronin as part of a two-car team run by his father Davy’s DGM outfit and supported by Citroen UK. No stranger the competing on BRC evens in the past and will be a serious contender for event honours, especially when the championship visits Northern Ireland for both the Circuit of Ireland and Ulster International Rally later in the year.
11 SAM MOFFETT / KARL ATKINSON Ford Fiesta R5
The older Moffett brother is an event winner in Ireland and will hoping to bring that level of competition to Britain. He has competed extensively over here but, like his younger sibling, will lack individual event experience.
12 MARTY MCCORMACK / DAVE MOYNIHAN Skoda Fabia
McCormack is another driver well capable of mixing it with the top boys and surely deserves a better seeding than 12, but such is the strength in depth of the new championship. He brings considerable event experience and World Rally Championship miles to the table.
17 DESI HENRY / LIAM MOYNIHAN Skoda Fabia
The Derry and Cork team are no strangers to winning events in Ireland, especially on gravel.
18 PHILLIP MORROW / JONNY HARTE Mitsubishi Lancer E10
Morrow, from County Antrim, was one of the quickest drivers in the BRC back in the day when Mitsubishi Lancers were the car of choice for registered contenders. He has not rallied fulltime in recent years but once he gets up to speed he will be a regular finisher inside the top ten.
23 ROBERT WOODSIDE / ALLAN HARRYMAN tba
Woodside is another driver lacking overall match practice but won’t be far away either. Last year he contested the Circuit of Ireland in a Porsche GT Sports Car but that car is not suitable for the gravel of Mid Wales so it remains to be seen what he will turn up with on Saturday morning.
33 ROB DUGGAN / GER CONWAY Vauxhall Adam
The Killarney crew are part of the official Vauxhall Junior Rally team’s assault on the BRC. This is only their second ever overseas event but that won’t stand against them and expect the pair to be at the forefront of the under 27 fight.
39 ADAM BUSTARD/AARON JOHNSON Ford Fiesta
An unknown quantity on this side but not to be ruled out either. Already finished in the top three overall in a preparatory event in Northern Ireland earlier this year, against far more powerful machinery.