The Silverstone Tyres BRC Challenge departs from the main British Rally Championship again for a new event in the series' calendar, the Neath Valley Stages Rally on August 16.

While just a handful of the BRC regulars will contest the all gravel event, the competition right at the front should still be fierce. Richard Sykes and Simon Taylor will want to redress the balance after Manxman David Harrison and his co-driver Glyn Thomas overhauled them on David's home event.

Stourbridge's Sykes had led from the start of the season, extending that lead from James Watts after Harrison faltered within sight of the finish of the Jim Clark Rally. Watts had, however, improved sufficiently from the first round, to win the International Rally Drivers Club Improvers award and with it a cheque for ?100. But the tables were turned on the Rally of the Midlands when the field was decimated, leaving an already improving Harrison to take a lonely victory and the season's second IRDC award.

On the Manx lanes Harrison proved it was no fluke, and even had Sykes not gone off and been forced to retire, the youngster's Peugeot looked likely to match Sykes' Fiesta's pace. The eventual result on the two separate day's rallies, gave Harrison a hat-trick of wins and a twelve point lead in the series.

Watts' second place, having also leap-frogged Sykes, is almost certain to fall on the Neath Valley event, as he cannot make the rally due to work commitments. But Tony Simpson and Stefan Arndt will re-join the fray after repairing their battered car following a big accident on Rally Isle of Man.

The Liverpudlian has had a difficult 2008 season, missing two events and failing to finish two, although he did set some encouraging times on the first day of the Manx double header, taking fourth in a development Citro?n C2.

As the points stand going to the Welsh forest event, Sykes' best hope is to level with Harrison, as even if the youngster retires and Sykes wins, the differential means they would both leave on 120 points apiece.

Round six of the series, which is based at Walters Arena, famous for the stage on Wales Rally GB, uses three of the best gravel stages in the UK. Resolven, Rhondda and Walter's Arena are run twice each to give a total of 34 miles.


Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment