After a highly successful and competitive 50th year, the MSA British Championship approaches the first round of 2009, the Bulldog International Rally of North Wales, with one of the most competitive line-ups for many years.

Returning with a wealth of BRC experience is triple Champion Mark Higgins, who reunites with another triple BRC champion Bryan Thomas, pulling together a deal to drive in his Impreza N11 again. The pair last won the championship together in 2005 in a Focus, Mark last taking the title in 2006, but he has been pipped by Guy Wilks for the last two years and will want to add a fourth title to his and Bryan’s tally.

Heading a trio of quick Irishman out in Mitsubishis are Keith Cronin and Greg Shinnors who were stunningly quick in Yorkshire last year, now planning a full attack on the BRC. Cronin’s experience includes taking the coveted Irish Billy Coleman award, also pitting his skills against Adam Gould in the International Pirelli Star Driver final last year.

Stuart Jones swaps from the S2000 MG, in which he took second on last year’s Jim Clark rally, to a more familiar Mitsubishi. Still only 24, he and now regular co-driver Andy Bull have plenty of experience, Jones having partnered BRC Champ Gwyndaf Evans in 2006 and contested PWRC events in 2007.

David Bogie and Kevin Rae are the first of two BRC prize drivers, their victory on the Mitsubishi Evo Challenge netted them a full season in an Evo IX. They will debut the brand new car on Rally North Wales, hoping to impress in a relatively unknown machine.

The second of the prize winners took victory in the BRC’s own Pirelli Star Driver competition, the concept offering up Adam Gould as the second winner of the championship’s coveted and innovative prize. He and Seb Marshall will crew a Pirelli funded Subaru Impreza N14, making the step up from his 2008 Clio.

Plenty of talent from overseas drivers is also guaranteed; the Swedish Junior Champion Andreas Sjolander Hakan Jakobsson also change steeds from Fiesta to Evo, taking the plunge for an all out assault in the BRC this year. Their experience on selected rounds in the past two years should stand the amiable pair in good stead.

The Suzuki Swift Sport Cup and the Fiesta Sporting Trophy form part of this year's BRC and will see two youngsters from 'down under' enter the competition.  Aussie driver, Molly Taylor, has entered the series in a Swift, whilst Kiwi hopeful, Patrick Malley, will contest the Fiesta series.

The Bulldog International Rally of North Wales gets underway on Saturday, March 28 and is based beside the beautiful Lake Bala. Crews will tackle 82 stages miles in some of the most iconic forests in Europe; names like Big Ray (Dyfi Main), Dyfnant and Gartheiniog should add to the excitement of an already mouth watering first round of the BRC.

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