Despite the Fiesta SportTrophy one-make series electing to miss this weekend's Jim Clark International Rally, no less than five Fords are set to contest the event; making the battle for the Rally 3 class another thrilling prospect.
It is an all-Fiesta front row in the class tables ahead of round three, with Irishman Craig Breen and Welsh co-driver Gareth Roberts ahead of Kyle Orr after a first and second place in preceding events. Orr was only joined by Rob Fagg on round two, the Pirelli Rally, where they too took a second.
Third-placed Tom Walster had a bit of a crisis of marque on the first two events, debuting his R3 Renault Clio in Wales, but swapping to his Fiesta for the second rally as the Clio was being saved for an overseas event. The asphalt of the Jim Clark Rally sees a return to the Renault, where Walster will hope to repeat his first round victory.
Two drivers who have shown great pace, but failed to convert it into great points in the R3 class, are Cumbrian Kris Hall and Finnish driver Matti Rantanen. Hall suffered a puncture in Wales and was swallowed by a Kielder ditch on his home event, while Rantanen has crashed out of both rallies whilst leading the class.
Stefan Davies and Stevie Brown both missed the Pirelli International Rally, Davies citing budget, while Brown chose the National event as part of his FST campaign. They bring up the rear of the Rally 3 championship runners although, oddly, Orr will start behind them on the Jim Clark.
The Diesel Cup also runs in R3, with old rivalries between Fin McCaul/Huw Mathias' BMW and brothers Steve and Tony Graham's Astra rekindled. The Grahams took victory on the Jim Clark Rally last year and they lead the Diesel Cup in 2009, but McCaul has the momentum, having taken victory on the Pirelli last month.
In Rally 2, the battle is exclusively between the Citroëns in the C2R2 Cup, where any one of the four protagonists could not only take the class, but stand a good chance of vying for two-wheel drive honours against the R3 runners. Positions on the road follow points, with Marty McCormack/Phil Clarke planning to use superior tarmac experience to their advantage over Jason Pritchard/Andrew Edwards. Both drivers have C2R2 one-make championships to their names, McCormack in Ireland and Pritchard in the UK.
Mark Gamble/Steve Link took a class win here in 2008, wheeling out their new Max Kit against Andrew Hockridge and Rich Mills, who missed the Pirelli, with a shortage of suspension components.
Rally 1 is mainly occupied by Suzuki Swifts, the only exception being early pace setters and potential threat on asphalt, Irishmen Joseph McGonigle and Patrick Brides in a Honda. They trail Australian driver Molly Taylor by nine points, the Aussie partnered by Jemma Bellingham in not just the only all-female car in the British Rally Championship, but the winners of both opening rounds.
Local driver Gordon Nichol will be hoping that the pacenote system he and co-driver Emma Morrison have devised works better on tar than gravel, but a bit of local knowledge should see him at the sharp end, while Luke Pinder/Peter Scott have done well to repair their car after a huge roll on the Pirelli, which put paid to a fine run at the head of the R1 class. Their zero score there leaves them tied in fourth in the class, one second place apiece with Manxman David Harrison and co-driver Glyn Thomas.
Whilst languishing near the end of the field, Richard Sykes and Simon Taylor do so as a result of mechanical maladies rather than lack of pace. They expect to be fighting at the front again after ding-dong battles on the first two events have been cruelly cut short by component failures. Bringing up the rear of Rally 1 are BRC newcomers Nicholas Everard/Chris Davies, who have made good progress in their first season and will relish the prospect of a classic event like the Jim Clark.