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Kielder test awaits C2R2 quartet.

As winner of the opening round of the Citroën Racing Trophy UK just over two weeks ago, reigning Citroën C2R2 Cup champion Jason Pritchard will head the four pocket rockets off the line for round two of the MSA British Rally Championship, the Pirelli International Rally, this Friday.

Having missed last year's event with a broken foot, and since changed co-driver from his championship-winning year, the Welsh youngster and new team-mate Andrew Edwards will need to be on the ball to fend off the other three drivers, all of whom contested the rally last year.

In common with Pritchard, 2008 Pirelli winner Andrew Hockridge has also changed co-driver, but the second Welsh driver in the series gelled quickly with Rich Mills mid-way through last year. The duo currently languishes at the foot of the C2 points table though, after struggling on the series opener when their car was involved in a pre-rally accident.

Irishman Marty McCormack is another with a new co-driver for this year, as Phil Clarke guided the pairing to second place on round one. McCormack will want to forget the 2008 season opener though, when a broken gear-linkage on the first stage left him in third at the finish.

The only driver and co-driver pairing still together is that of Mark Gamble and Steve Link, but the Midlanders have a rather different new challenge for this year's Pirelli Rally. New to the BRC in '08, they contested what was then the season's first event in a Suzuki, taking that one-make series with a round in hand. But the Pirelli was not their best event, as they retired with fuel problems while leading.

Despite only three of the drivers using the new C2 Max Kit, all are eligible for the Citroën Racing Trophy UK's fantastic prize fund, Gamble having been given dispensation to upgrade on the first asphalt round. It will still be a hard-fought battle in the infamous Kielder forest complex though, with Friday's stages running into darkness with a full day's rallying on Saturday to follow.

The 17-18 April event is based entirely at Carlisle racecourse to the south of the city.


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