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Rally North Wales returns this weekend with star-studded entry

Matthew Hirst, last year’s Interclub winner in his Evo. Image credit: Russ Otway - 90Right

The Dolgellau-based WKD Trained Dogs Rally North Wales returns after a two-year hiatus on Saturday (March 26), boasting a bumper and star-studded entry.

Organised by Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire Car Club, Rally North Wales will see around 160 cars tackle eight stages in the Dyfi, Gartheiniog and Pantperthog forests as an impressive line-up of competitors head to the market town for the annual event.

Sponsored by leading multi-disciplined dog training firm WKD Trained Dogs, the rally will see crews flagged away from Gwyndaf Evans Motors at 8.30am before heading out into the woods for 44 miles of competitive action throughout the day.

Bolstered by some of the biggest championships in the UK, the event will welcome the Fuchs Lubricants Motorsport UK British Historic Rally Championship to the region. Often marked as the fans favourite, the series provides a truly classic flavour and boasts an entertaining list of entries set to tackle the rally.

The Pirelli Ravenol Motorsport UK Welsh Rally Championship brings a wide variety of modern machinery to the fold as does the ANWCC Forest Rally Championship. The impressive Bowler Defender Challenge will tackle their first stage rally of the season in the all-new Land Rover Defender, whilst the BMW Mini Challenge crews tackle a shorter, more cost-effective rally during the day.

Over 60 historics will blast through the forests during the day and the top seeds are Matthew Robinson and Sam Collis in their Ford Escort MKII. With one win already under their belt this season, the pairing was in a league of their own on home soil in February but will be eager to maintain that speed on the super-fast Welsh stages.

Hot on their heels will be two-time Rally North Wales Historic winner Nick Elliott. Also in an Escort, Elliott enjoys an impressive record on the event and will be aiming for a hat-trick of wins with Dave Robson occupying the co-driver’s seat for the event.

They will be chased by 2021 British Historic Rally champions Ben Friend and Cliffy Simmons whilst Adrian Hetherington and Ronan O’Neil make the trip across the Irish Sea to tackle the event.

Rally North Wales will also welcome a record-breaking, three-time British Rally Champion Matt Edwards, who will contest his first rally since winning his third British title.

Changing to historic machinery, he drives the spectacular Fiat 131 Abarth with Hamish Campbell on the notes. Their presence will undoubtedly be a huge draw for the fans as the forests echo to the unique machine.

Four-wheel-drive contenders are also in abundance this year with 2019 Interclub event winners Matthew Hirst and Declan Dear heading the field in their Ford Fiesta R5. Having won last time out in an ageing Mitsubishi, Hirst’s new machinery should put him in good stead for 2022.

However, an impressive list of contenders follows on, including Mid Wales based Dylan Davies and Mark Glennerster in their Skoda Fabia R5 and Mitsubishi Mirage R5 pilot Tom Llewellin partnered by Dale Bowen.

A late entry from British Rally Championship contender and 2012 event winner Tom Cave will certainly keep the front-runners on their toes. Dale Furniss will co-drive in the Subaru Impreza.

The Bowler Defender Challenge also brings 14 impressive Land Rovers to the event, with James Bond stunt driver and three-time British Champion Mark Higgins leading the field. Co-driven by Claire Williams, Higgins will contest his first rally in the UK since 2016.

Crews in two-wheel-drive machinery will run at the head of the field in a reverse seeded format, with a short gap separating them from the four-wheel-drive contenders. Spectators will be well catered for, with plenty of opportunities to catch the action throughout the day.

There are superb viewing locations at the Dyfi, Big Ray and Gartheiniog stages with entry to each location costing £10 per car.