SATURDAY’S Grampian Forest Rally in Scotland sees the 2022 British Rally Championship reach its half-way point.
For series leaders, Keith Cronin and Mikie Galvin, the 900 kilometre trip from their respective Ballylickey and Killarney bases marks the longest journey of the season.
They currently hold an 11-point advantage at the head of the standings ahead of Welshman, Osian Pryce, who is also partnered by a Killarney co-driver, Noel O’Sullivan.
There has been little to choose between the crews on pace so far this season, and both are equipped with similar examples of the Volkswagen Polo GTi. Pryce has secured two wins, while Cronin recorded victory on the BRC’s last foray to Scotland in May, and has two second places.
Speaking at a pre-event test in Ireland, Cronin emphasised the importance of the Grampian to the eventual outcome of the 2022 BRC.
‘This phase of the championship will be crucial to the final reckoning at the end of the year,’ said Cronin, who is chasing a record-equalling fifth British title.
‘Osian and Noel have two maximum scores from the two rounds they finished, we have one maximum from the win on the Jim Clark Rally and two seconds. The best five out of seven results count, so dropped scores will come into play soon. I know we’re ahead at the moment, but in reality it’s not quite as healthy as it looks, we need to be finishing the rallies in front of them.’
Pryce and O’Sullivan are seeded at Number 1, followed by Cronin and Galvin at 2. Former British championship contender, David Bogie, is seeded at three, and will be endeavouring to uphold Scots honour in his Ford Fiesta Rally 2.
‘I expect David to go very well on Saturday,’ said Cronin. ‘He isn’t registered for the BRC on this occasion, so if he’s ahead I don’t intend to get into a battle with him, I’ll be prioritising points. When we did the BRC last year, things didn’t really gel for us overall, but the Grampian was actually our best result of the season, so I’m obviously hoping things will go well again this time.’
Elliot Payne/Patrick Walsh and Garry Pearson/Dale Furniss complete the top five seeds in Ford Fiestas, with the latter crew also chasing host nation honours.
The first stage of the Grampian Forest Rally will commence just before 9:30am.