Merrick Stages rings the changes

ORGANISERS of the Ian Broll Merrick Stages rally are ringing the changes this year in an attempt to attract more entries.

In line with several other rounds of the MSA Scottish Rally Championship, the lesser-powered two-wheel-drive classes will run at the front of the main field on the Wigtown-based event, which will take place on Saturday, September 1.

“There are two main reasons for running classes 1-7 at the front,” explained rally manager Allan Marshall.

“First, it is to refocus the organisation of the event and, secondly, there are strong financial reasons. With the Merrick being the penultimate round of the SRC, we’ve suffered for a number of years with a drop in entries. This move is aimed at revitalising the rally and boosting the entries, and, hopefully, it will put us on a better financial footing for the future.

“I know there are a lot of exciting drivers out there with two-wheel-drive cars – a lot of them in the local area with their cars parked up in sheds. With more emphasis on the smaller classes, I’m saying it’s time they got them dusted down and back into the forests where they belong!”

Competitors will face 42 miles of classic stages in the Galloway forest, with some 80 miles of road sections, making the Merrick one of the most compact events in the SRC calendar. However, the organisers have added a twist to this year’s event.

“We’ve cut down the number of stages to four this year but they are four stages of quality,” said Marshall. “We’ve taken the big decision to bring in the 19 miles-plus of Glentrool, which will run as the second stage. Our survey team has been round the stage in recent days and reported back that it’s in tip-top condition.”

For the third year running, rally headquarters will be based at the County Buildings in Wigtown, with the cars being flagged off from the start line immediately in front of the building.

“The warm welcome extended by the people of Wigtown to the competitors, officials and spectators over the past two years has been tremendous, and we’re excited about returning this September,” said Marshall. “All we need now is a full list of entries.”

Updates will be posted on www.merrickstages.co.uk.