The 2009 MSA Pirelli Gravel Rally Championship will get underway with Rallye Sunseeker in Bournemouth next month, with interest already high for the ANCRO-organised series.
A number of former champions, including Paul Bird and Steve Perez, are planning a return to the series in 2009 with a new championship class structure and eight events during the season ahead.
The latest incentive in place is the announcement of the Mintex Two-Wheel Drive Championship, where the winners of each round will receive a totally free entry into the next ANCRO event of their choosing.
Open to any two-wheel drive car, the prize value will be worth around £500 per event, with a £1000 cash award to the winner at the end of the season.
All eight events will be included in the championship of which a competitor's best five results will count and each competitor must be registered for the 2009 MSA Pirelli Gravel Rally Championship.
What it all means is that mathematically, a crew would not have to pay an entry fee for a whole year if they were successful on each event as the winner of the final round on the Trackrod would receive a free entry in next year's Rallye Sunseeker.
Indeed, such a beneficiary already are the winners of the 2008 Two-Wheel Drive Challenge, Nathan Crewe and John Connor, who will receive a free entry onto Rallye Sunseeker 2009 as part of their prize from last year, if they wish to enter.
"The two-wheel drive competitors are just as important to us as everyone else so we want to encourage them as much as possible,” championship manager Lyn Jenkins said. “There are not many prizes out there where the driver of a Ford Escort or Vauxhall Astra could benefit to the tune of around £5,000 this season so we're hoping that a good number of crews will take up this challenge, thanks to our sponsors Mintex. We have some classic and exclusive stages on some of the country's best events so it really is a great opportunity."