The 21st. Pirelli International Rally will feature a high profile Carlisle City Centre start but the real action will take place 40 miles up the road with the fast, undulating stages in the giant Kielder Forest complex waiting to challenge the crews contesting the third round of the British Rally Championship.
After the opening two rounds, no driver has stamped their authority on the series so far and there are four crews tightly bunch at the top of the championship table. It will, however, be 2009 Pirelli winner Keith Cronin, with Marshall Clarke alongside, who leads the field away in their Citroën DS3, buoyed by a fine second place on the previous round, the Bulldog.
They are followed by Mark Donnelly/Dai Roberts (Renault Clio), winners of the opening round but non finishers in Wales following an off road excursion. Bulldog winners Tom Cave/ Craig Parry(Citroen DS3) are next away, followed by Finns Jarkko & Petri Nikara ( Citroën DS3), Elfyn Evans/ Phil Pugh (Ford Fiesta R2), Desi Henry/ Niall Burns, Osian Pryce/ Iestyn Williams and Jonny Greer/ Gordon Noble, these last three all in Citroën DS3s.
There is a strong Scandinavian challenge to the event, apart from the Nikaras, Jukka and Mikael Korhonen are in a Škoda Fabia R2 and Jussi Kumpumäki/ Marko Salminen, Niko Nieminen/ Pasi Haataja and Steve Rockland/ Kim Hjalmarsen are all in Ford Fiesta R2s.
The events Friday evening leg sees to stages in Kershope Forest, with the now traditional halt in Newcastleton town square featuring n the agenda. A long Saturday leg will see the crews tackle some ten stages, all in the Kielder complex; indeed, the event will be as much a test of stamina as horsepower and whoever mounts the winners rostrum at the Carlisle Racecourse finish will know that they have been in a really tough event.
There is ample parking for spectators at most stages and also at the Carlisle Racecourse rally headquarters which will be hosting a spectacular Rally Village.