61st DUKERIES RALLY – DONINGTON PARK – PREVIEW
After the postponement of the rallies at both Oulton Park and Cadwell Park, the 2020/21 Motorsport News/MSVR Circuit Rally Championship finally gets underway at Donington Park on Sunday 6th December, with the Rainworth SKODA Dukeries Rally.  Not surprisingly the 100 car entry is massive in both numbers and quality.

Winners at Donington in March, Frank Bird and Jack Morton head the field in their Ford Focus 07 WRC, followed by Kevin Procter/Patrick Walsh, the winners of the recent Flying Fortress Stages, in the Fiesta S2000T. Ollie Mellors/Max Freeman are at three in the Proton Iriz R5, with Mark Kelly/Neil Colman next up, debuting their ex Steve Hendy Fiesta R5.

There is another R5 Fiesta at five, with Paul Smith/Ellie Williams, before Charlie Payne/Carl Williamson make a rare appearance on tarmac in their Fiesta WRC. They are followed by two more R5 Fiesta’s, with James Self/Ian Davis and Radical/Revolution racer Richard Wells/Calvin Houldsworth.
Rounding off the top 10 are John Griffiths/Nigel Wetton, debuting their ex European Rally Championship Peugeot 205 R5, brought in from Italy. They were to have been followed by defending MSN Champions Barry Morris/Tom Hutchings in their Darrian T90 GTR+ but Covid-19 restrictions meant they were unable to travel from Northern Ireland.

Local driver Dave Welch has Steve McNulty on the notes in his Subaru Impreza at 11, and is followed by former MSN Champions Chris West/Keith Hounslow, making their debut in Nigel Mummery’s Porsche 997 GT3. Robert Hughes/Sion Cunniff are Fiesta R5 mounted too, before Barry Groundwater/Neil Shanks bring their Subaru Impreza WRC south of the border too.
Hugh Brunton/Drew Sturrock and Darrel Taylor/Peter Kettle and next up in two more Fiesta R5’s, before Ciro Carannante/Simon Coates’ Porsche Cayman, Josh Payton/Jamie Vaughan’s Escort Mk2 and Mike Taylor/Martin Haggett’s Talbot Sunbeam Lotus round off the top 20.
The strength in depth goes on with Martin Hodgson/Tony Jones’ Escort M2 at 21, followed by Josh/Tamsyn Davey’s Darrian T90. John Marshall/Scott Crawford’s Fiesta R5 is at 25.

Class 1 (cars up to 1400cc) is headed by Stephen Brown/Paul Stringer’s Micra Kit Car from James Hardy/Nick Wilkins’ Micra, Mark & Matt Blackmore’s Corsa and Chris & Anthony Newton’s Nova.  In Class 2 (cars up to 1600cc) Ken Sturdy/Andrew Funnell’s Suzuki Swift Maxi leads off, from Chris Ruck/Steve Harris’ Opel Corsa and Ben & Andrew Wilkinson’s Peugeot 106 Maxi, while in Class 3 (cars up to 2000cc) the Davey Darrian is chased by the Escort’s of Robin Adams/Ray Keith and Mike English/Andy Robinson.
Carannante, Taylor Hodgson and Alistair & Colin Inglis’ Lotus Exige head Class 4 (over 2000cc 2wheel drive) and in the Historic’s its Chris Skill/Rachel Boden, David Gathercole/Tom Murphy and Pete Littler/Andy Marchbank, all in Escort’s.

The first stage is due to start at 9.20am, but sadly it’s all behind closed doors, so the action can be followed on rallies.info results.

Preview courtesy of Peter Scherer.  Photos show Frank Bird / Jack Morton, winners of the LDV Donington Rally back in March.