May 1, 2014 by Dave Mint  

This weekend marks the first round of the British Rally Championship: the all-gravel Pirelli Carlisle Richard Burns Foundation Rally. For the second consecutive year the Pirelli-backed event will be named after Britain’s last World Rally Champion, who won his title in 2001 on Pirelli tyres. Alex Burns – Richard’s father – will once more be guest of honour.

The 10-stage event takes place mainly in Kielder Forest, close to Carlisle: home to one of Pirelli’s two UK factories, producing state-of-the-art tyres that lead the way in the Ultra High Performance sector.

Carrying the colours of Pirelli will be Irishman Daniel McKenna, this year’s Pirelli Star Driver. He benefits from a funded season in the British Rally Championship with a Citroen DS3 R3T, a car that has proved to be a winning machine on the championship in recent years, run by David Greer Motorsport.

McKenna comes to Cumbria straight off the back of a strong result on the European Rally Championship’s Circuit of Ireland, where he won the two-wheel drive class and finished an excellent sixth overall.

“I think we’re looking in good shape for the British Championship now,” said the 26-year-old, elected to the prize drive by a panel of experts last year. “The Pirelli asphalt tyres I used in Ireland were extremely strong. Obviously now we switch to gravel; hopefully we can get a good result. We already had a good test on gravel in February where we felt comfortable in the car; we will also get a short test on Friday after the recce. I’ll obviously have to look after the car but it’s useful to get some time in it just before the start of the rally. I’ve got more experience on asphalt than I have on gravel, but I’m not far off the pace on the loose. Most of all I’m just very grateful to Pirelli for the amazing opportunity that has been handed to me this year.”

Carrying the number one seeding in Carlisle will be another Pirelli Star Driver finalist, Osian Pryce, whose run of victories last year is sure to make him a strong challenger once more throughout the 2014 season, in another Citroen. Famous names in the historic section include five-time British champion Jimmy McRae, at the wheel of a Vauxhall Firenza.

Pirelli will bring the renowned K6 and K4 gravel tyres to suit the fast forest tracks of Cumbria, with K6 being a softer compound – well suited to cool weather and mud – while K4 is a slightly harder compound. The unique tread pattern is especially designed to disperse loose gravel, stones and mud, which is what makes it especially effective on some of the most demanding stages in Britain.

These tyres have been developed using the same technology that Pirelli used when it was single supplier to the World Rally Championship from 2008 to 2010, with a failure rate of less than 0.02%. The British Rally Championship has been run exclusively on Pirelli tyres since 2007, with the Carlisle-based round having been sponsored by Pirelli for 23 years.

Innovations for the Pirelli Carlisle Richard Burns Foundation Rally this year include a new service park and HQ at Brunton Park, home to Carlisle United Football Club, as well as a start and finish ceremony in the city centre, from 09:30 on Saturday 3 May. The rally finish is from 12:40 on Sunday.

Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery, taking time out of his Formula One schedule to come to Carlisle, commented: “Rallying is something that’s always been very close to my heart as it’s something that I grew up with: it’s what got me into motorsport in the first place. So it’s always a real pleasure to come to Carlisle, a key location in Pirelli’s history, and also to support the brilliant work of the Richard Burns Foundation: a charity set up not only to honour Richard’s memory, but also to help all of those people who are tragically afflicted by brain illness or injury.”

For more information about the Pirelli Carlisle Richard Burns Foundation Rally:

For more information about the work of the Richard Burns Foundation:

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