The Swift Sport Cup continues to be strong in the MSA British Rally Championship with all six cars that started the season making the trip across the Irish Sea for round four of the series, Rally Isle of Man.
Australian Molly Taylor heads the all-Suzuki Championship in her first full season in the BRC, having surprised the boys with victories on the two gravel events. The tussle for the lead has been a three-way affair though; Luke Pinder and Richard Sykes keeping the young Aussie honest, swapping fastest stage times on each event.
All three have had their share of problems though, Pinder rolling spectacularly out of the lead of the Pirelli, Sykes repeating the feat on tarmac when Taylor faltered with damaged suspension after her own excursion.
In second in the Cup though, is the only driver with a season's experience of the little 1600cc Suzukis, Scot Gordon Nichol shining on home asphalt to take his first victory last time out. Pinder and Sykes follow, the Swift Sport Cup reflecting the same positions as the BRC's Rally 1 class, although the lone Honda of Joseph McGonigle has split the Swifts on several occasions.
Taking more time to get to grips with their new steeds are Manxman David Harrison and Yorkshireman Nick Everard. Harrison's prize of free entries in the 2009 BRC courtesy of winning last year's BRC Challenge, has not gone smoothly so far, taking scant consolation from second on the Pirelli. The pair both have two no-scores, mainly due to mechanical problems, so will be playing catch-up for the remainder of the season, since the best five scores count towards the British Rally Championship.
The level of experience of the Manx lanes will no doubt play an essential part in the outcome of this 180 mile event, Taylor and Everard at a disadvantage on this tricky rally. Manxman Harrison was unstoppable on last year's BRC Challenge, but Sykes is definitely quick on asphalt, Pinder and Nichol also capable of winning the event.
However the form book could easily be overturned if the unpredictable weather turns; two days and twenty stages of trying to second guess tyre choice could also make the difference between victory and departure from the fray.