Youngsters are moving up gears
THE 2012 MSA British Rally Championship has taken competitors from Britain's south coast Riviera to the forests of Kielder, from the fast tarmac of Ulster to the challenging forests of Wales.
Within the series, a number of motorsporting bodies have cast an eye on the potential of some of the drivers and co-drivers.
The International Rally Drivers Club is one, running its 'Driver Improvement Scheme' to watch those that demonstrated sure-footed reliability and consistency over the 429 stage-miles of gravel and 285 stage-miles of asphalt tackled during the year.
Through all these challenging miles has come Welshman Osian Pryce, the worthy winner of the Driver Improvement Scheme International Class, and co-driven by fellow Welshman Iestyn Williams.
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Pryce's Citroen DS3 has featured in the IRDC scheme's standings on almost every round of the six-rally series, a fantastic follow-on from winning the 2011 Fiesta SportTrophy UK.
The talented 19-year-old student is now targeting a full-time rally driving career, ultimately competing at World Rally Championship level.
Similarly, the second-placed driver is another Welsh tip for the top, and has featured in the top ten of the six events this year, as well as being a young driver progressing impressively.
Tom Cave has had an unforgettable year with two solid World Rally outings with the works Proton team and two overall wins on BRC rallies.
Co-driven by Craig Parry, Tom has also had to cope with the loss of his ever-supportive father Peter earlier in what proved to be a season of very mixed emotions for the 21-year-old.
Third in the premier class was 21-year-old Mark Donnelly, overall winner of one BRC round and also a regular name on the IRDC driver scheme throughout the season.
The Ulsterman's Renault Clio had another Welsh connection, co-driven by the hugely experienced Dai Roberts.
One of the biggest and best historic rally events runs this weekend, the Roger Albert Clark Rally.
Although running in Yorkshire and Scottish Borders, the Red Dragon will be roaring, as West Walian Julian Reynolds started in third place yesterday evening as 2012 British Historic Rally Champion.
Ahead of Julian is Steve Bannister, both men driving Ford Escort Mk.2 machines, the latter with more experience on these stages, though few discount Reynolds as a threat.
Reigning MSA Welsh Rally Champion Matt Edwards also drives the event for a first time, in a Ford Escort, his first in a rear-wheel-drive machine.
A new event runs in Wales in 2013, as the MSA Spring Classic event will be based at the Celtic Manor Hotel, the touring competition over the weekend of April 27 and 28.
For cars of more than 20 years old, the bulk of the route will be within Wales, before heading to the Castle Combe Circuit for the finale of the event.
The circuit has long been run by former Swansea Motor Club member Howard Strawford and his family.