Pirelli's Carlisle factory
One of the UK’s most prestigious rally events celebrates two important landmarks this weekend, with its title sponsor and tyre supplier at centre stage. The Pirelli Carlisle Rally – part of the British Rally Championship 2016 following the series’ relaunch – runs its 40th edition, and 25th under the Italian manufacturer’s name. Pirelli said its British Rally Championship stars would fight to deliver a victory on the home ground of high-speed gravel roads in the Kielder Forest. The rally consists of seven stages over Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, totalling 75 competitive miles.
One of the leading Pirelli-equipped contenders for victory will be Fredrik Ahlin, who has already starred on Swedish snow, Welsh mud and Irish Tarmac so far this year. He drives a Ford Fiesta R5 for the Carlisle-based CA1 Sport team, which also has Skoda Fabia R5 driver David Bogie among its four-strong line-up. The Scot has previous form in Kielder, winning the event in 2011 on his way to the British title.
Jonny Greer also has a good record on the rally, and the Citroen DS3 R5 driver will arrive in Cumbria off the back of second place on the Circuit of Ireland, where Pirelli claimed all three places on the BRC podium. Others to watch on Pirelli tyres will be the Skoda duo of Neil Simpson and Desi Henry, Peugeot 208 T16 driver Euan Thorburn and Ollie Mellors in his Proton Satria.
Mitsubishi man Donnie MacDonald will look to repeat his BRC National Rally Cup win from the Circuit of Ireland, while the British Historic Rally Championship will also be present with Jason Pritchard heading the entry list after making a winning start to his title defence on Pirelli’s range of tyres for the historic classes.
Pirelli’s BRC competitors will have the full range of Scorpion gravel rally tyres available. In particular, the renowned K6 and K4 gravel tyres should suit the fast forest tracks of Cumbria, with K6 being a softer compound – well suited to cool weather and mud – while K4 is a slightly harder compound. The unique tread pattern is especially designed to disperse loose gravel, stones and mud, which is what makes it especially effective on some of the most demanding stages in Britain.
Matthew Corby, Pirelli Motorsport operations manager, said: “The Pirelli Carlisle Rally is of course a very important date in our year, and especially so in this anniversary year and with the revival of British Rally Championship. Regardless of the result this is a victory for our manufacturing presence in Carlisle and for the sport in general.”