After a two-year hiatus, the popular Manx Rally makes a welcome return to the Isle of Man this weekend [13/14 May] as the two-day event provides competitors from across the UK and beyond with a dramatic weekend of motorsport.
After being forced to cancel the 2020 and 2021 editions of the event due to the pandemic, event organisers Manx Auto Sport have reinvigorated the format and will welcome a host of rally championships to the island to tackle some of the most famous stages in rallying.
Attracting the attention of the FIA ERC Celtic Trophy this year, the rally will run to international standard but will also welcome the more familiar HRCR Stage Masters Historic Stage Rally Challenge, the Welsh Historic Rally Championship, and the ANWCC Rally Championship contenders to the rally.
After the pre-event shakedown on Friday morning, around 70 competitors will head out from the TT Grandstand rally start to tackle 14 stages and 100 stage miles in a two-day gruelling blast across classic Manx stages. Tests such as Little London, Tholt-e-Will and Druidale will feature, as will four runs over the Baldwin’s to challenge crews to the limit.
In addition, Friday night’s leg will see the treacherous stages contested in darkness, adding the ultimate challenge to the already tricky route. The first car will leave the TT Grandstand at 18:00 ahead of three stages in the fading light before the first service.
Those tests will then be repeated in full darkness, including the longest stage of the event, Druidale at almost 19km. Competitors will enter Parc Ferme at around midnight for the overnight halt. Saturday, the longest leg of the rally, kicks off at 09:00 and offers four tests repeated before the ceremonial finish and champagne celebrations take place at the Grandstand podium from around 16:45.
Five-time Manx Rally winner Jason Pritchard leads the field away in his Ford Focus WRC with co-driver Phil Clarke alongside. Pritchard is undoubtedly a pre-event favourite with that stellar Manx form and heads across to contest the event whilst taking time out from his British Rally Championship campaign.
Number two seeds Neil Roskell/Andrew Roughead will have a tough task on their hands to match Pritchard’s pace in the World Rally Car as they bring the Fiesta R5 to the event. Roskell netted third in the Asphalt Championship in 2021 and is also familiar with the Manx lanes, taking seventh at last year’s PokerStars Rally.
Simon Bowen/Craig Simkiss bring their Ford Fiesta S2000T wearing the number three on the doors. Bowen was runner up on the Manx Rally in 2018 behind the wheel of a Subaru Impreza WRC so will be putting his previous experience to the test this weekend.
Famed for his giant-killing performances, Martyn Jones will be aiming to uphold local honours in his rapid Vauxhall Nova. With Llion Williams in the co-driver’s seat, Jones is well-known for taking his underpowered Nova to some sensational results and could even see a podium this time around.
Fellow Manxman Rory McCann swaps his Hillman Avenger in the British Historic Rally Championship for his Honda Civic and starts as fifth seed. Along with co-driver Paul McCann, Rory took eighth on the PokerStars in 2021 so is well versed in hauling the Honda around the lanes. Another local crew, Steven Ormond-Smith/Adam Yates bring their Mitsubishi Evo IX to the party aiming for a solid result whilst Gavin Edwards/Caron Tomlinson will be entertaining the crowds in their Ford Escort MK2 at car seven.
Neil Morgan/Shaun Hughes also pilot an Escort MK2 with Garth Mimnagh/J Barry McCarney tackling the event in a Ford Fiesta R5. George Collister/Ian Postlethwaite round out the top ten in their raucous BMW E30.
Fans will have plenty of opportunities to catch the action on the stages and get up close to the cars in service throughout the weekend. Road closures throughout the rally take place approximately 1hr 30mins ahead of the time of the first car and the full details of the stages can be found in the spectator information, available to download [HERE].
The Entry List is available to view [HERE]
LIVE results will be available [HERE].