The opening round of the 2009 Eurocars Motorsport Manx Rally Championship, the Jaks Asphalt Stages Rally, takes place this weekend and entry shows no sign of effect by the current credit crunch.


Reigning champion and 2008 winner Mark Cubbon will lead the near-capacity 58 crews away from the TT Grandstand on Friday night. Cubbon will contest the event in the same Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 7 which he drove to the title last year, but on this occasion it will be Roy Sweetman on the notes, rather than wife Euince who was listed to co-drivfor 4WD & Van Centre owner Ian Corkill, although that entry has subsequently been withdrawn .


Right behind Cubbon will be Steve Quine and Paul McCann in the ex-Steve Colley Evo 6followed by regular visitor to the island John Cope who will have local co-driver Rob Fagg on the notes. Cope and Fagg will be out to make amends having led the rally almost all the way last year, until going off on the final run down Druidale, leaving Cubbon and Quine to fight out a tooth and nail finale through the streets of Peel. It may take 'Smiler' a stage or two to get accustomed to the new machine, and there's no return to Peel this time around, but he'll certainly be one to watch.


Andrew Leece and Matt Bettridge are similarly moving up to new cars this year, both in Subaru Impreza's. Again, both have proven pace in two-wheel drive machinery and despite the learning curve will be keen on a good result.

The two-wheel drive category is still likely to be close fought however, with regular visitor Daniel Harper leading the annual invasion of the supercharged BMW Mini's. Former champions Richard Curphey (Vauxhall Astra) and Nigel Cannell (Vauxhall Corsa kit car)head the local challenge.


The rally is underway from the TT Grandstand tonight (Friday) at 7pm for the opening nine stages, split into three loops of three tests. The opener starts from the Creg-na-baa pub and runs down to the 5 mile corner before turning down the narrow Fairy Cottage road. Next up is a new test for most crews, starting from South Cape the crews head up past Axelfell Plantation to then finish at Lonan Church. The third test of the loop start down in Baldrine and then heads up to the Dog Kennels triangle before finishing at the Whitebridge. The three are tackle twice more following service breaks at the TT Grandstand.


A further 7 stages follow on Saturday; with a 9am re-start at St Johns. Its two loops of two stages in the morning, with the run from Dalby up to the Round Table crossroads before heading down the Sloc Road to start, then its Ronague to the Round Table on to Rushen Miles and finishing with the tricky roads down to Glen Maye.  The event concludes with three stages over Druidale, the blindingly quick run from Brandywell Cottage to Sartfield and on through Little London. Although the service halts on Saturday are in St Johns, the rally finish is back at the Grandstand, with the first cars due at 2.45pm.


Seeded Entry List

Time Schedule