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After a seven week break the competition continues in Kent.

The first thing that strikes me looking at the entry list for Round 3 of the HRCR Hagerty Insurance Clubmans Road Rally Championship, The Hughes Rally, is that the top three seeds are all registered for the Amazon Cars Challenge Cup. For those of you not familiar with the significance of this it means the cars are being driven to the event and not transported on a trailer, and not only that there are three different age categories too. It’s good to see the rally has a much better entry this year with another three historic crews, and the Club rally benefiting from another eleven crews. It’s also very good to note that a few more crews have made the journey down from “up north” to support the event, thank you.

With some of the notable competitors not making the journey to Kent there is likely to be a significant change to the championship positions, although the competition is surely going to be tough.

Master in Category 3 & 4 in particular is looking very racy with last year’s winner Simon Mellings, this time with Henry Carr, in another Nissan Stanza that Simon has “found” followed by Simon Harris and Dan Middle in their usual VW Golf GTi and Thomas and Roger Bricknell in a similar car. This latter crew overdue for a win I think, while in Category 1 & 2 Ian Crammond with Matthew Vokes are in their Mercedes Benz 280SL now firmly in Category 1 since Ian removed the electronic ignition will be under pressure from last year’s East Anglian Classic winners Dave Leadbetter and Cath Woodman in their trusty BMW 2002.

The competition will also be tough in the Experts class with a real mixture of cars including The Whyte Sisters in their “non-Standard 10”, a pair of Lancia Fulvias,  a Volvo 122s, an MGB and a BGT, a Mk2 Escort, two Porsche 911s, and finally a Porsche 924s.

The 924 seems to becoming a popular car with another three in the Novice class. Although I think they may have a hard time beating Novice favourites, Clive and Anji Martin in their rapid 1600 Sport Escort. They seem to be on a roll at the moment with a fine 6th overall on the Ilkley Jubilee and a fine win on the recent Metric Service Easylarity. That said there is plenty of competition with the welcome return of Tim and Mark Willcocks in their Volvo Amazon. Another welcome sight will be the 1937 Bentley Derby of Stuart and Emily Anderson which is always driven with great enthusiasm.

The top seeds are

  1. Simon Mellings and Henry Carr, M4, Nissan Stanza
  2. Ian Crammond and Matthew Vokes, M1, Mercedes Benz 280SL
  3. Dave Leadbetter and Cath Woodman, M2, BMW 2002
  4. Simon Harris and Dan Middle, M4, VW Golf GTi
  5. Thomas and Roger Bricknell, M4, VW Golf GTi
  6. Paul Davis and Les McGuffog, M2, Ford Escort RS2000
  7. Steven and Chris Winter, C, Volvo 144GL
  8. Martin Neal and Richard Dix, M1, Austin Healey Sprite
  9. Alan Wakeman and Worth Birkill, C, Rover 214Si
  10. James Griffiths and James Howell, M2, Austin Mini 1275GT

With thanks to Andy Manston of MandH Photography for the selection of photographs from last year below.

Look forward to seeing you all again in the Garden of England, let’s hope the weather treats us well again.