The third round of the 2009 UK Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge sees competitors head to Kielder Forest for the second time in as many events, although the Pirelli Tour of Cumbria utilises a different part of the massive man-made forest on the Scottish Borders from that used in last month Border Counties Rally.
Top seeds in the Evo Challenge line-up are double 2009 winners, Daniel Barry and co-driver Martin Brady. Although having recorded a 100 per cent success rate so far, the Irish pair are not taking a third win for granted as the competition has been so close, added to which Kielder Forest can often throw a curved-ball into the equation.
Next to cross the start line will be Simon Hughes/Craig Parry, who's previous pace suggests that a win is on the cards before too long. They are eager to record their first Evo Challenge victory in order to keep their title hopes on track.
Following the tragic death of their chief engineer Rex Paddock in a microlight crash last week, Nik Elsmore and Craig Drew will start the event in sombre mood, but are determined to continue rallying and do the best they can in honour of their much respected team member.
Getting quicker by the mile are number four seeds Owen Murphy/Dai Roberts. Currently third in the championship, they are another crew who are in contention for the top spot and are destined to be challenging for the lead this weekend.
Fresh from finishing second in the Irish Evo Challenge last week, Alan Carmichael/Ivor Lamont will be the next Mitsubishi crew to start. This event will see the UK debut for their new Lancer Evolution IX, which has already proved quicker than their old car on asphalt and will now be put to the test on gravel.
Starting and finishing from Carlisle Racecourse, the Pirelli Tour of Cumbria features eight timed special stages and a competitive distance of just under 70 miles. As well as the third round of the Evolution Challenge, the event also hosts round three of the MSA Gravel Rally Championship and sees an entry of 20 cars - the Mitsubishi series representing 25 per cent of the National A category field. The event also includes an international section which features round two of the MSA British Rally Championship.