by Geoff Mayes

North London student Melis Charalambous is eagerly looking forward to this weekends RBS Manx International Rally, an event that will mark the first time in his short career that the 18-year-old has competed on closed public roads.

Charalambous, who is contesting the entire British Rally Championship with Andrew Roughead calling the notes, is eager to gain as much experience of the different events, and with this in mind the pair are using this weekends tough two day long rally as an extended test session.

Although Charalambous has contested a selection of airfield based single venue rallies in the past twelve months, this will be the first 'proper' tarmac rally that he will tackle - and with the narrow Manx lanes not known for being forgiving, it is sure to be one big steep learning curve.

However, thanks in part to tutorage from the likes of Pentti Airikkala, no slouch on tarmac rallies himself, Charalambous has developed rapidly.

"I am really looking forward to my first taste of Manx rallying," he said. "I've watched a lot of videos and plenty of in car, and know that you have to be neat and tidy. Andrew has competed over here before and so will be a great help both on the recce and on the actual rally."

The RBS Manx International Rally is based in Douglas and consists of 14 high speed tarmac stages on closed public roads throughout the tiny island. The first car starts from the TT Grandstand at 7pm on Friday evening, and will tackle a selection of tests in the dark. Action resumes at 8:30am on Saturday morning for a full day of action packed rallying.