After a seven-week break, the Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge season resumes this weekend, with its second visit to the Welsh forests in as many events, the Swansea Bay Rally providing round six of the one make championship for Group N Lancers.
Last time out in round five, the Severn Valley National Rally, the battle between the front-running Mitsubishi teams was as close as it gets, with it all coming down to the final stage and the top three separated by less than eleven seconds. As it turned out, series leaders Daniel Barry/Martin Brady recorded their fourth victory of the year, the result now making them firm favourites for the title.
However, their quest to claim the Evo Challenge Crown may well get even closer this weekend, as second-placed Simon Hughes/Craig Parry have chosen to sit this one out and may not be back until the final round. Therefore, another win by the Irish pair will make the rest of their season far easier, but with two of the eight scores to be dropped, the chase for honours is not over yet.
It will therefore be down to third-placed Nik Elsmore/Craig Drew to put pressure on the leaders and, having won a round of the Mitsubishi championship at this event in previous years, the Gloucestershire driver may well enjoy his first taste of Evo Challenge victory this season.
Such is his love of the sport and his participation in the Mitsubishi series, Icelandic Rally Champion Daniel Sigurdarson will be making the trip to the UK once more to put more miles on his recently built Evolution X. For this rally he will be co-driven by Andrew Sankey and, if his recent pace is anything to go by, Sigurdarson is another who could well be standing at the top of the Evo Challenge podium on Saturday evening.
Other notable absences from the regular Mitsubishi field are Owen Murphy/Dai Roberts, who are in the process of changing cars - and still might enter if the deals go through in time - plus Alan Carmichael/Ivor Lamont, who have opted to contest a round of the Irish Evo Challenge, which takes place the day after the Swansea event. The reduced number of entries is also reflected in the main National A field which sees a total of 20 cars, whilst the MSA Gravel Championship sees just six, a far lesser number to that of previous years.
The Swansea Bay Rally will again feature some of the stages used for the Wales Rally GB: Rheola, Walters Arena, Resolven and Rhondda. Each will be run twice during the day which, added together, provides crews with a total competitive distance of 60-miles.