The 2017 Prestone MSA British Rally Championship goes down to the wire this weekend at the 138.com Rally Isle of Man with three drivers still mathematically in with a chance of claiming the biggest victory in British rallying and walking away with the title.
Championship leader Fredrik Ahlin, former triple champion Keith Cronin and the ever-consistent Matt Edwards will battle it out over three days of action with two sets of championship points on offer.
Ahlin goes into the event as the clear favourite to win the championship with a 32-point advantage over second-placed Cronin as he aims to become the first Swede to win the BRC since Stig Blomqvist in 1983.
However tarmac expert Cronin, who has won two of the previous three events in 2017 will hope that this weekend’s double header will give him the points he needs to complete his quest for a fourth crown in the M-Sport Ford Fiesta R5.
The Irishman needs to win both rounds this weekend to stand a chance of clinching his fourth title and also has the benefit of being able to use his joker, which could mean Cronin could claim an extra five points if he was to win this weekend – possibly the difference between being runner up and claiming the overall title.
The final championship challenger Edwards is the relative outsider in the race for the title as he needs to win both rounds and hope that the duo in front of him slip up on the Isle of Man and suffer issues.
He currently lies third, eight points behind Cronin in second and will be aiming solely for a double victory this weekend with relatively little to lose in a championship sense as Edwards nears the end of his first season in four-wheel drive rallying.
It looked like there was going to be a four-way race for the title this weekend, but Osian Pryce confirmed earlier this month that he was to sit out this weekend in order to save his budget and concentrate on the 2018 season.
With Pryce missing this weekend, the BRC1 class is rounded out by Alex Laffey, who could be an outsider for a strong result on his preferred surface, and Rhys Yates who could also feature near the top of the timesheets.
Incredibly, it’s a similar story in the race for the title in the Prestone Motorsport News Junior BRC as again three drivers are in with a chance of claiming the championship win and with a £30,000 cash prize going to the winner, the battle will be immense.
Going into this weekend, its William Creighton who leads by 13 points ahead of Callum Devine with Oscar Solberg a further 23 points adrift in third.
After a ding-dong battle all season, Creighton and Devine again go head to head this weekend. The Irishman starting the season strongly by finishing runner up on the Border Counties Rally on his first ever loose surface event and went one better in round two and claimed the Pirelli International win.
Then after claiming a pair of runner up positions behind Devine later in the season, the duo were tied going into the Ulster Rally last time out where Creighton was able to make his home advantage count giving him the 13 point lead he now has going into this weekend.
Devine however has been a revelation since changing to an Opel Adam R2 midway through this season and won both the Ypres Rally and the Nicky Grist Stages and will be aiming to add another pair of victories to his tally this weekend.
Solberg meanwhile, like Matt Edwards in BRC1, goes into the event this weekend with the aim of finishing as strongly as possible and relying on the pair in front of him to hit issues. The Norwegian needs both Creighton and Devine to have problems this weekend and drop as many points as possible.
The BRC Junior class is rounded out by Marty Gallagher and Meirion Evans who have both already shown this season that they can match the leading trio for pace and could be in the mix for a victory on the Isle of Man.
Finally, after securing the BRC Cadet class championship last time out in Ireland, Josh Cornwell will move into a Peugeot 208 R2 in a bid to compete against the BRC Junior competitors in theoretically a more competitive car compared to his Ford Fiesta R2 that he has used in the Cadet class this season.
With Cornwell moving up this weekend, the win in BRC Cadet will go the way of either Tom Williams, Alex Waterman, James McDiarmid or Nabila Tejpar.
The stage for the conclusion of the 2017 Prestone MSA British Rally Championship is set and will take place this weekend between September 14-16.