by Geoff Mayes
As the 2008 Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship heads to Yorkshire for the penultimate round, the points' tables show that former champion David Higgins tops the charts, but with three wins on the trot brother Mark must surely hold a psychological advantage.
However reigning champion Guy Wilks will be hoping for a repeat of the 2007 running, when he stormed to a strong victory that formed the catalyst of his successful campaign.
The Pickering-based International Rally Yorkshire is the only single day rally in the championship but don't be fooled into thinking that it is a short little sprint event. Consisting of almost 100 miles of some of the fastest rally roads in the country, the stages running through the Langdale, Dalby and Cropton forests present a massive challenge to the competitors.
Whilst Mark Higgins, the multiple former champion, might have made the headlines for his on-stage performances recently, the championship has had to cope with a number of political dramas.
After former Mitsubishi pilot and TEG Sport new recruit Phillip Morrow was stripped of his team points after a fine drive on the Rally Ulster last month, three of the four teams threatened to pull out of the 2008 teams' championship race.
Whether this actually happens or not remains to be seen - but it is disappointing for such a closely fought battle to be diluted by clerical errors rather than being based on driver talent.
Regardless of what happens with the teams championship the overall drivers battle is one of the most fiercely fought in years.
David Higgins leads the title hunt courtesy of podiums on the opening three rallies. Handling issues with his N14 Subaru hampered him in Ulster but it is expected that the high speed nature of the Rally Yorkshire stages should suit both the car and driver.
The 'works' Mitsubishis of Wilks and Gwyndaf Evans both ran well here last year and are once again expected to be at the sharp end of the battle. Wilks knows that he needs a good result to stand any chance of defending his crown, as a combination of driving mistakes and mechanical issues on the last three rallies have placed the Mitsubishi pilot on the back foot.