After the event long battle at the front of the Swift Sport Cup on round one, Australian Molly Taylor and local co-driver Jemma Bellingham will head the field on round two this weekend, on the Pirelli International Rally.
The event saw the debut of the Swift one-make series within the MSA British Rally Championship in 2008 and for the new season there is a ruck of new competitors to challenge for the overall title. Taylor contested one event last year, the only other crew with Swift experience being Gordon Nichol and Emma Morrison, who currently lie third in the series.
That said it was Richard Sykes and Simon Taylor who made the fight with the Aussie at the front so spectacular in Wales, before transmission problems sidelined them on the very last stage of the rally. No doubt the Midlander will want to continue that battle in the Kielder forests.
2008 Pirelli Star Driver finalist Luke Pinder and new co-driver Peter Scott inherited second after Sykes' demise, gamely fighting a car with a broken rear shock absorber for the whole event. The Yorkshireman should have resolved the handling problem for the tough test ahead, particularly as the crews will all have to contend with darkness on Friday night on top of the fast challenging stages.
Nichol's new pacenote system was undoubtedly a contributing factor to the crew's first round uncharacteristic performance. So he and Morrison will be making absolutely sure that the recce of the stages on Friday morning goes perfectly.
The move from BRC Challenge to the main International events, means that 2008 BRCC Champion David Harrison has plenty to learn. Longer events plus recce on the gravel rallies now means he and Glyn Thomas need to put their 2008 Rally GB class winning experience to good use; stamina being required for this season.
Another newcomer to the BRC is Nick Everard. He and co-driver Chris Davies effectively start from scratch on the Pirelli International, having retired on the first stage on the Bulldog. The non finish so early meant they couldn't gauge their stage times and will need good night vision to keep in touch with the pack on Friday.
To assist all of the competitors they will be using PIAA lamps to help cut through the darkness of the opening stages, the lighting manufacturer supporting the series with an end of season prize fund for the highest placed Junior driver.