WRC 2: Welsh duo the men to beat
Elfyn Evans and Mark Higgins are likely to set the pace
Local knowledge could be key to the fight for WRC 2 honours at Wales Rally GB this weekend with Welsh-based drivers Elfyn Evans and Mark Higgins likely to set the pace.
Although many of the stages are new or unused since the 1990s, both have strong experience in Wales. More than anyone in the WRC 2 entry, they are familiar with the slippery, foggy conditions likely to be prevalent and also have the required speed.
Evans has been a WRC 2 regular and bagged second place in both Germany and France in his Ford Fiesta R5. Home is in mid-Wales, just a few kilometres from the Dovey Forest complex which hosts the bulk of Saturday’s action.
Higgins is a three-time British champion, and although he is competing in Rally GB for the first time since 2008, he finished sixth overall in 2002. The Isle of Man-born Higgins, who lives close to Friday’s remote service at Newtown, has only driven his Fiesta R5 in a brief test so it may take time for him to become acclimatised.
However, the 42-year-old wild card, a stunt driver in the James Bond films Quantum of Solace and Skyfall, is competing in the Chinese Rally Championship this season and has won two rounds.
Robert Kubica, who was crowned WRC 2 champion at the previous round in Spain last month, steps up to a works Citroen DS3 World Rally Car so cannot score. Also absent are championship runner-up Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari and first round winner Sepp Wiegand who have withdrawn their entries.
So who else should we look out for?
Yazeed Al Rajhi, winner in Sweden and second in Spain, will benefit from the experience of Britain’s Michael Orr in the co-driver’s seat of his Fiesta RRC while Scandinavian duo Jari Ketomaa and Eyvind Brynildsen cannot be counted out.
Ketomaa scored a dominant category win on home ground in Finland while Norwegian Brynildsen has endured a dreadful run of mechanical bad luck in his three outings this year. Both will drive Fiesta R5 cars.
Ten of the expected 13 starters are in either R5 or RRC versions of the Fiesta. They include Lorenzo Bertelli, Robert Barrable and another Welshman, Tom Cave, who finished third in this year’s British Championship and could spring a surprise on his R5 debut.
add_circle Breaking news: Sordo secures Italian double
More on WRC