Pattison aims to double up


Stockport’s Dave Pattison and Bolton’s Paul Whittaker will this weekend bid to score back to back wins on Isle of Man closed roads rallies.

They swept to victory on November’s Pokerstars Rally in their Mitsubishi Evo 6, becoming the first off-island crew to win such a Manx event, and will lead a 49-car field into action from the TT Grandstand tonight (Friday) for the 18-stage Chris Kelly Memorial Stages sponsored by Mann Construction. 19 other visiting crews will line up with them.

John Stone from Blackburn, one of the UK’s top asphalt drivers, starts immediately behind in his Skoda Fabia WRC. Stone has recruited experienced local co-driver Rob Fagg for the run.

Daniel Harper and Paula Swinscoe add to the top-end challenge in their BMW Mini, and bring team-mates, father and son John and Martin Cressey once again. Harper has led the event in the past and finished fourth here in the November, from which 12 of the first 14 home re-engage one another. Cressey isn’t one of them, but finished sixth 12 months ago.

The Manx Auto Sport organised rally is the opening round of the Eurocars Motorsport Manx Rally Championship and the home challenge is headed by former champion Nigel Cannell in his Mitsubishi Evo 9, who has just-turned 16 year-old daughter Imogen alongside, making her rally debut.

Andrew Leece/Graham Fargher and Martyn Jones with David Radcliffe will be aiming to stop an all-visiting crews podium in their Evo 6’s, while Tim Collins and Paul McCann have a new Evo 9 at their disposal.

Reigning champion Connor Corkill was a late entry on Tuesday with Howard Allison, following their fine seventh place finish on last weekends North West Stages, and will use the same MkII Escort.

Among the others to watch out for are local Sean Kelly, who moves up to an Evo 6 for the first time, while Blackburn’s Tugs Sherrington makes a first visit to the island, bringing a big Mull Rally reputation with him in his Evo 4.

Class battles will keep the action going right through the field.

David Jones/Andrew Cowley are favourites for the 1400cc category in the absence of usual frontrunner Kevin Vondy. The 1600cc class could be a thriller, with visitors Ian Jones (Citroen C2R2), Chris and Heidi Woodcock (Proton Compact) and Gary Edgington (Peugeot 106) all well-experienced in the Manx lanes, with the enigmatic driving of Ben Hardy (MkII Escort) taking them on.

Former British Junior champion Stuart Egglestone (Appleby) heads the two-litre, front wheel drive entries, though both Andrew Holmes and Guy Simpkiss will aim to keep it local, Guy in particular on his home patch. All three drive Vauxhall Astra’s.

In the rear-wheel drive equivalent Corkill will be the man to beat, but among those trying will be multiple championship runner-up Kex Walker (BMW 325), John Kirkpatrick (Astra) and now regular visitors David and John Coulson (BMW 320) and Hugh Jones (Escort MkII), while the Vauxhall Chevette of Andrew Bird could be a dark horse.

Friday evening’s action is based at the TT Grandstand and covers 19 stage miles over six stages around Laxey covering Baldromma, Glen Roy and Dog Kennels twice each.

The bulk of the action however is on Saturday, with 65 stage miles in the north of the island from a base at Jurby Airfield. Tholt-e-Will and Druidale are tackled twice each in the morning, before the action moves on to St Judes and Glascoe (three times) as well as Andreas (twice), with the leaders due at the finish in Ramsey square at 3:20pm.

  • For the first time the event is a round of the ANWCC Stage Rally Championship, as well as being the traditional opening round of the Eurocars Motorsport Manx Rally Championship.

  • The event will be filmed for inclusion on Motors TV’s Special Stage programme for the first time.

  • The rally is named in the memory of Chris Kelly, former Clerk of Corse of the event and long-time Manx Auto Sport Chairman. The first stage of the rally finishes outside of Chris’s home.

 Seeded Entry List Time Schedule