AFTER a blistering start to the 2024 season, the Probite Motorsport UK British Rally Championship [BRC] heads for the gravel this weekend [13 April] as the Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages offers the perfect battleground for round two.

Over 62 miles of world-class stages lie ahead, with classics such as Myherin and Hafren Sweet Lamb on offer during a non-stop day of action. Those forest tests have hosted the best drivers in the world in the past, with Wales Rally GB famously visiting the region for many years, witnessing World Rally champions crowned and hopes dashed in the daunting tree-lined route.

Much like the first round in Lancashire, the entry list is bulging with talent and the 50th running of the event has attracted a staggering entry of 180 cars, with Britain’s premier rally series joining the Llandrindod Wells-based offering for the first time.

The Classes: BRC1

Fresh from the Legend Fires North West Stages victory, Chris Ingram and Alex Kihurani top the BRC points standings after a flawless performance in their Volkswagen Polo GTi. The frontrunners in the Castrol MEM Rally Team, the duo were the pre-rally favourites from the off thanks to Ingram's win on the event in 2022, however, the mid-Wales forests are relatively unfamiliar territory for Ingram – meaning a battle royale is most certainly on the cards.

Riding the crest of a wave of late are 2023 Junior World Champions William Creighton and Liam Regan who took back-to-back Irish and British Rally Championship podiums in March. Taking second on the North West Stages, Creighton is still adapting to Rally2 machinery but heads up the M-Sport Ford Rally Team entry in his Fiesta. However, it will be Creighton’s first time on gravel in the car with just the snow of Rally Sweden under his belt so far on a loose surface.

Meirion Evans gave the Toyota Yaris GR Rally2 an ideal UK debut by securing third overall at the season opener and will take the impressive machine onto gravel for the first time. He and co-driver Jonathan Jackson have been concentrating on asphalt of late, so will need to bed in quickly if they are to repeat that feat.

Keith Cronin and Mikie Galvin had a troubled start to the season in their Fiesta Rally2 so will be aiming to right the wrongs of the North West stages. In a competitive field, that is a tough ask but his lengthy experience will certainly come into play. James Williams enjoyed a positive start to his BRC campaign in his new Hyundai i20 N Rally2 with fourth spot and takes his example onto the gravel for the first time with co-driver Ross Whittock.

Osian Pryce was Ingram’s nearest challenger last month before technical gremlins in his Ford Fiesta Rally2 forced him and Rhodri Evans out of the rally, so they will be eager for redemption on home soil.

Former Formula One racing driver Jos Verstappen makes a surprise entry to the BRC with regular co-driver Renaud Jamoul alongside. Verstappen, father of F1 superstar, three-time F1 champion and Red Bull Racing driver Max, will make his debut in the BRC and the UK, tackling the world-famous Welsh gravel for the first time. He will drive a Skoda Fabia RS Rally2, giving the brand its British debut with the new car and they will be joined by Wevers Sport teammates Roger Hodenius and Robin Buysmans in similar machinery, bringing a truly international flavour back to the BRC.

Callum Black is one of only a few drivers to have contested this event in the past and he and co-driver Jack Morton need a positive result after a trying North West Stages in their Fiesta Rally2. Neil Roskell will be tackling only his fourth gravel rally in his Fiesta Rally2 and Dai Roberts alongside, whilst Garry Pearson and Dan Barritt complete the M-Sport team in their Fiesta and will be another crew to need a strong result.

Elliot Payne [Fiesta Rally2] will return to his preferred surface and as a former winner of the rally, could well be one to watch. Ollie Mellors returns in his Proton Iriz after a positive opener, whilst the JKS Team Northern Ireland of Alan Carmichael [i20 Rally2] and Kyle White [i20]  are desperate for a result in Wales after a torrid start to their season.

After three years away, Rhys Yates makes a comeback, also in a Polo and with Craig Drew on the notes, whilst newcomers include James Leckey and Stephen McAuley, giving the Citroen C3 Rally2 its BRC debut.

Junior British Rally Championship, BRC3 and BRC4

The Junior BRC enjoys a stellar list of contenders as the Stellantis Motorsport Rally Cup joins the BRC for its first of four outings. Crews in the Peugeot 208 Rally4 will do battle for an impressive prize fund during the season but heading the Junior BRC standings is a fresh-faced Kalum Graffin. At just 17 years old, he became one of the youngest winners of a round, and will head for Wales on a high, along with co-driver Richard Crozier.

Robert Proudlock/Steven Brown currently ties with Casey Jay Coleman/Lorcan Moore thanks to their Joker bonus point deployment, both crews once again piloting the 208 Rally4 versions.

It was Welsh aces Ioan Lloyd/Sion Williams who took first blood in the Stellantis series and are one of only a few to have experience of the stages ahead.  A gaggle of eager drivers join the attack, with Cian Caldwell/Liam Egan currently on fine form and the likes of Kyle McBride/Darragh Mullen, Keelan Grogan/Ayrton Sherlock also on the pace during the Stellantis Cup opener in Ireland.  Joseph Kelly/Killian McArdle will also make the trip across the Irish Sea.

BRC4 features the same class as the Junior BRC, but outside of the age cut-off and sees Stellantis contenders Michael Fitzgibbon/Carrie Ryan join the category in their 208 Rally4. In BRC3, Stephen Waugh is joined by Carl Williamson in a Fiesta Rally3 after taking second in class on round one, and Waugh will be aiming for gravel experience on his loose surface debut in the car.

Open Rally Title & National Rally Title

John Rintoul and Ross Hynd will be aiming for a distinctly more positive outing in their Fiesta after a dismal start to the season in the Open Rally Title category for non-homologated Rally2 cars.  

The National Rally Title enjoys a dynamic mix of crews and machinery, with newcomer Tom Llewellin, son of two-time British champion David throwing his hat into the ring. Tom and co-driver Will Atkins will use a historic specification Ford Escort MKII.

The Ginetta G40 of Nick Heard and Oliver Mathinson makes its gravel debut, whilst William Mains and Tomos Whittle head back to the gravel, a surface Mains only sampled during his BRC outings in 2022. Multiple FIA European Historic Rally champion Ernie Graham makes a surprise outing in a Mitsubishi Evo X with Robin Kellard.

The Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages kicks off with a ceremonial start in Llandrindod Wells from 18:30 on Friday 12th April, before the action gets underway the following day in the nearby forests.

The event will be broadcast on ITV4 and ITVX on Tuesday 24th April at 20:00, and repeated at 08:00 on Sunday 28th April.