WHEN entries opened for the Hills Ford 3 Shires Stages last Sunday, the organisers were overwhelmed by the tremendous response from competitors.

Over 100 entries were received in no time, not only in terms of quantity but also quality. Amongst the top entries received includes potential winners Hugh Hunter in his Ford Fiesta Rally 2, Damian Cole in his newly acquired Citroën C3 R5, another driver with a new mount is Steve Wood, who will be driving a Citroën C3 with the very experienced Paul Morris alongside, another potential victor will be Melvyn Evans who lines up in one of his Melvyn Evans Motorsport Polo R5, Rob Swann will be driving his ex-OTT Tanak Ford Fiesta WRC. Winner of the recent Tour of Epynt Mark Kelly brings his Skoda Fabia R5 with Dai Roberts calling the notes.

Former Motoring News road rally championship winner Roger Moran will be driving the immaculate Moran Motorhomes Skoda Fabia R5 with Den Golding, and they are hoping to finish in the top ten. Former circuit racer Michael Igoe is another who has taken to rallying like a duck to water with his Ford Fiesta Rally 2.

Mark Jasper has entered the wonderful sounding Metro 6R4, with Don Whyatt calling the corners. The showcase of quality is not limited to the four-wheel-drive category. An impressive line-up of two-wheel-drive crews is also set to compete. This group includes young talent Tom Llewellin in an Escort RS1800, Andy Fraser with the Darrian V6 T9, Oliver Davies in the 2.5 Escort RS1800, Chris Simmons with the Darrian GTR, Wayne Jones in the Darrian GTR, David Kynaston with the TR7 V8, and Alan Walker in the Escort RS1800.

The event boasts strong local support as well, with Hereford crews such as Jay Stanley and Dan Petrie in a 2.5 Escort, Roger Mathews and Tom Marrott in a similar car, and Glyn & Tim Skipp with their Escort.

Phil Skipp is making a debut with his new historic spec Escort RS1800 alongside experienced navigator Russ Joseph. The event sponsors are well-represented, including Tim Hill with Paul Spooner, a long-standing partnership.

They’ll be driving the Hills Ford Fiesta R3, a car usually associated with Tim’s son, Will, in the Protyre Asphalt series.

Tim’s brother, Richard, will also join the fray, piloting another Hills Ford Fiesta R2 with Rich Crozier as co-driver. Newent farmer Geoff Phelps will have Colin Jenkins alongside in the Hartpury Farms Escort RS1800, Alan Marriage and Ross Motor Club’s Kevin Lane bring their Escort RS1800, they are joined by Ross duo Gary Bollands and Nigel Baldwin in the unique Subaru Stationwagon, Nigel Mummery is making a rare appearance with the iconic Group B Ford RS200 Evolution.

Protyre Asphalt championship front runners Brad Cole and Jamie Vaughan bring another powerful 2.5 litre Escort. Chris Butcher has entered his Nissan Sunny F2 with Jonathan Hawkins calling the notes. Representing the Mini marque are the Taylor family, including father and daughter Paul & Jemma Taylor, along with Mini Cup champion Ryan Taylor who will have regular BTRDA 1400 Championship driver Luke Watts calling the notes marking Taylor’s first outing this year. Entries are still open and it looks very likely the event will run with a full entry come 17th September This level of popularity truly speaks to the event’s appeal and excitement.