The Rallynuts Stages Rally returns to the British rallying calendar for the first time since 2019 this weekend as the popular gravel event blasts back into life on Saturday.
Forced to take a two-year sabbatical due to the pandemic, the Builth Wells based event has seen a one-off move from its traditional April slot in 2021 due to the restrictions imposed earlier this year.
The swap has meant that the well-respected event is now the final round of the season for several championships, setting up a thrilling battle in the forests for the hard-fought accolades.
More than 42 miles of competitive action in Myherin, Sweet Lamb and Hafren Forest lie in wait for the 120-strong entry, offering world-class stages for the crews who will be sampling the regions gravel tests in November for the first time in many years.
The rally is once again sponsored by established racewear and accessory firm Rallynuts Motorsport which enters its fifth year as title sponsor. The event is a qualifying round of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series, Pirelli Motorsport UK Welsh Rally Championship, West Wales Rally Spares HRCR Stage Masters and the Brian Dennis Motorsport / Marsh Commercial Welsh Historic Rally Championship.
With the coveted number one on the door, BTRDA and Welsh Rally Championship front runners Garry Pearson and Niall Burns lead the field away in their Skoda Fabia R5 and are in the remarkable position of being able to claim two titles on Saturday.
The Duns driver has already taken the Scottish and Motorsport UK National Rally title honours and a win this weekend would vault the duo into the record books.
Doing all he can to stop the Scotsman will be Ford Fiesta R5 pilot Callum Black. Joined by co-driver Tom Woodburn, Black is in with a shout of taking the hotly contested BTRDA and Welsh titles as well but will need to outpace Pearson from the off. Expect a scintillating battle in the forests on Saturday between the pairing.
Ian Bainbridge and Will Atkins could be the thorn in both protagonists’ sides in their Skoda Fabia. Starting at the third seed, they will be looking for that elusive first BTRDA win.
As will rapid youngster Elliot Payne in his Fiesta Rally2. Payne and co-driver Patrick Walsh have shown a fine form of late and could well top the leader board in the Mid Wales forests.
British Rally Championship regular James Wilson makes the trip from Ireland to the event in a Fiesta R5. Usually seen in a Hyundai i20, Wilson and co-driver Arthur Kierans will not impact the title fight but will certainly be ones to watch in the stages.
Ludlow’s Perry Gardener shone on his Fiesta R5 debut at the Woodpecker Rally and could well pull some surprises this weekend too. With Jack Bowen on the notes, they have tough competition ahead from their sixth place starting position.
An impressive line-up of competitors from across the UK and beyond are eager to head into the stages and it is the smaller-engined cars and historic category vehicles that will lead the crews away from the Royal Welsh Showground on Saturday morning in a reverse seeded order, followed by the main field in a “fastest first” running order.
Spectators are welcomed to watch the action from two viewing areas during the day, with cars passing each location twice. Due to continuing COVID implications, the Royal Welsh Showground will be out of bounds to spectators, but they can head to either the Sweet Lamb or Myherin stage to catch the action.
The opening stage of the rally, Myherin kicks off at 8:30am on Saturday with the second pass scheduled for 12:45pm. Entrance is cash only, available on the gate and is £10 per car.
Sweet Lamb offers the famous spectacular viewing and will see the first car at 9:09am with the second stage at 13:24pm. Once again, entrance is cash only, available on the gate with a landowner charge of £10 per person. Tickets are not transferable between the two locations.
For those who cannot watch the action in person, the event will also be broadcasting live with action from two stages on Rallynuts Stages Rally Facebook page.