Snetterton Stage Rally opens 2019 season at Norfolk circuit
- Credit: Archant
Another busy motorsport season is in prospect when the Snetterton Stage Rally kicks off proceedings on Saturday.
The British Touring Car Championship headlines the Norfolk track's action once more in 2019 with the country's foremost series visiting Snetterton on the weekend of August 3-4 to start off the second half of their title race.
Having celebrated the championship's 60th anniversary with an extended final race of three last year, this year's Snetterton round will allow drivers a free choice of when they run the three different tyre types to add even more excitement to the races.
The British GT Championship, supported by the British Formula Three Championship, heads to Norfolk on the weekend of May 18-19, with the Aston Martin Vantage V12 having a special liking to the Snetterton layout.
The Lamborghini, Bentley and Mercedes teams will be hoping they can break the Aston monopoly while the GT4 contest is always a close affair on the fast Snetterton layout.
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The British Truck Racing Championship will again makes it way to Snetterton in early September providing their unique brand of entertainment.
The Vintage Festival will take place towards the end of September with a slightly different twist this year with longer races while the Historic Sports Car Club will return for a single day event on June 1.
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The Citroen 2CV 24 Hour race will take place on the third weekend of August with Pete Sparrow hoping to add to his 10 wins, making him the most decorated twice around the clock race winner in modern times.
Reigning Motorsport News Circuit Rally champion Chris West travels to Norfolk this Saturday having secured victory with his Peugeot 306 Maxi in the previous round to cement top spot in this year's contest.
The fifth round of the circuit-based rally championship opens up another hectic season of motorsport with eight stages set in and around the Snetterton complex with West defending his narrow victory from last year.
At the previous round, held at Brands Hatch, John Stone, with his Ford Fiesta, set the early pace, but as the circuit became less slippery West came to the fore to win by 18 seconds.
A blown engine ruined last year's Snetterton visit for Stone, who has elected to miss this year's event, while new to the venue will be the nimble Darrian T90 of Josh Davey who could cause West some difficulties if conditions remain dry throughout. Last year West's greatest challenge came from the potent Ford Escort Mk11s with Mark Kelly's version finishing just one second behind second-placed Stone at Brands Hatch hoping he can defeat the Peugeot this time around.
North Norfolk's Steve Tilburn claimed fourth at Brands Hatch, and in last year's Snetterton event, with his Escort Mk11 and will be looking for a podium place this weekend on his home turf.
Also watch out for Nigel Mummery, with his Ford Focus, who spun on the opening stage at Brands Hatch, but was able to fight back from 66th overall to eighth place at the finish. A clean run this Saturday could see him challenge for a top spot.
A number of local crews will be hoping their home venue knowledge will allow them to mix it with the leading series runners with Long Stratton's William Moore hoping to challenge Mummery in the all-wheel drive section with his Mitsubishi Lancer.
Jon Scoltock, from Great Yarmouth, will be hoping to challenge for honours in Class C with his Ford Escort with Ivan Chafer of Diss an outside contender with his Peugeot 205 GTi.
Cromer's Mark Annison will be a strong contender in Class A with his Ford Puma, but faces local opposition from the MG ZR of Norwich's Dale Lawson.
The first car is scheduled to start the season off at 9am with the final car finishing as the light fades on the Norfolk venue.