Pace notes -- your guide to what's coming up

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Full field for Armajaro series

The massive growth in popularity of historic stage rallying shows no signs of abating in 2005. More cars than ever before will be contesting the Armajaro MSA British Historic Rally Championship as a new third category of cars joins the Historic and Post-historic groups.

Although ineligible for the overall MSA title, the cars in the Classic category (1975-81) will run with the older cars on all nine events to produce a spectacle spanning 25 years of rally car development.

The calendar concludes with a new event in Somerset rather than the Bulldog Rally in Wales. Asphalt challenges on the Isle of Man and in Belgium again provide variety.

Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride will be defending their 2004 title in a Porsche 911. Much will depend upon the consistency of their class rivals: the presence of Geoff Crabtree’s 911 could be a threat as could former BTCC star Patrick Watts’ Sunbeam Tiger. Other leading pre-1967 runners include Chris Green, Philip Atkinson and Neil Calvert in Lotus-Cortinas. The post-historic 1967-75 group will also be highly competitive, with a clutch of Escort Mkls including those of Ray Bellm, David Stokes and Jeremy Easson; many pundits are tipping Easson to be champion. Taking the fight to the Escorts will be Dominic Frattaroli in his fresh Datsun 240Z, while Andrew Street has traded his Saab 99 for a Porsche 911 and will be a contender. Steven Smith/John Nichols (RS2000) will defend their crown, while the 1600 class will again be fought over by a phalanx of Escorts.

The Classic category should be dominated by Escort Mk2s, with Triumph TR7 V8s adding variety.

***

Whale set for forests

Robin Hood Forest stages March 12-13 — close on 100 historic cars will contest the opening event of the Armajaro MSA British Historic Rally Championship in the forests of Nottinghamshire over the weekend of March 12-13.

The superb entry, covering all three categories, will tackle three stages in the dark of Saturday evening followed by a further seven on Sunday, with the core of the stage mileage within the Clipstone complex. Long straights and square corners are typical of the region, so power will count. Three-time winner Nick Whale (Porsche 911RS) isn’t planning a full BHRC campaign, but could well topple the post-historic Escort BDAs on this event.

GT racer Mike Jordan will tackle his third-ever rally in his Escort RS2000, while Graham Waite’s mighty Volvo Amazon will chase the Porsches of Nutt and Crabtree in the historics.

Race programme — check where the action is…

Saturday March 12, SS Clipstone North 1 (from19.20) North-east of Mansfield. Enter forest from the B6030 near Old Clipstone village. Parking via MR120/611647

Sunday March 13, SS Clipstone North 2 (from 10.10) Details as above SS

Thieves Wood (from 12.02) South of Mansfield off the B6139. Parking at 120/540 558 and 537 560

SS Blidworth (from12.35) South of Blidworth village, west of A614. Parking at 120/595 543,592 524 and 583533

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