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Manx Rally Preview

The West Wales Rally Spares Stage Masters Challenge heads to the Isle of Man next for the ever popular Manx Rally. Despite a couple of years in the doldrums with low entry numbers this year they were hugely oversubscribed and there were many unlucky crews who didn’t make the cut. Unfortunately Mike Simpson and Dale Gibbons missed out despite being supporters of the event in the past. All other applicants from the Challenge were successful and add even more to the already brilliant entry.

First Challenge seeds are Gareth James and Steffan Evans who make a return to the Challenge and will be ones to watch in their Blue Sky Engineering powered Escort RS1800. Gareth Bevan and Jordan Jones have been seeded well up the list in their similar Escort and are possible dark horses. Last year our current champions, Baz Wheeler and John Pickavance scored a brilliant result on the island and have the car and the experience to do it again, they bring the ‘other’ Metric Services RS1800 out for this which is in tarmac trim. Rudi Lancaster and Guy Weaver are seeded a little down the list next for some reason but again are well capable of producing a speedy performance in their Woolacombe Bay RS1800.

John Morgan and Llinos Jones-Edwards are next, they have a brand new tarmac Escort RS1800 and will be hoping that the Dixies Challenge goes well as it is just a week before.  Ben Smith and Steven Smith will be very fast in their C5 Mk1 Escort and stand to score good Challenge points all being well. Phil and Mick Squires come next and will also have some knowledge of the roads having rallied there a few times before but not recently. Lee Ashberry and Ian Jones are just behind them, both in similar Escorts and should enjoy a battle together.

Toby Adam and Ian Meakin are another crew who need to survive Dixies beforehand but if all goes well Toby will make the Mk1 BDG engine Escort sing. Rex Ireland makes his Challenge debut too and doesn’t appear to have been to the Isle of Man before, he will be teamed with Dan Morefield who will be attempting to add to his points tally having had a great run on the Rallynuts Stages with Jack Thorne. Stuart Anderson is also doing Dixies beforehand so he and Adam Houston have a busy couple of weeks ahead of them in the Group 4 Vauxhall Chevette HS. Directly behind them is globe hopper Bob Gibbons with Jon Harris in their lovely C5 Escort. Bob has much experience of the Manx and will be hoping to surprise a few with a good run. Stephen Spear is co-driving and was originally down to be with Freddy Camp but there now appears to have been a driver change.

Last but not least is the intrepid Japanese crew of Shinobu Kitani and Hiroko Kitani who have brought their Mini to the event once again. We wish them and all other Challenge the best of luck and hope the rally is enjoyable and successful.