Dennis delay causes Dorset debut detour for Wheeler


Rally driver Chris Wheeler reckons a last-minute change of plans, forced on him by Storm Dennis, could give him a stronger start to his season than expected. The Torquay-based youngster will contest his first rally of 2020 at the Bovington Stages in Dorset on February 29th / March 1st, after a problem sourcing specialist race fuel for his Citroen DS3 R3T forced him to withdraw from last week’s Snetterton Stages Rally. Wheeler and co-driver Shaun Layland had already entered the Norfolk event when Storm Dennis intervened, trapping the truck carrying his high-grade racing fuel in an Irish ferry port. “We need this particular fuel because, over the winter, we sent the Citroen’s ECU away to France for re-mapping and the engine’s power characteristics have changed significantly,” he explained. To avoid potential engine damage if he tried to use his old fuel, Wheeler had no choice but to pull the entry.
Pleased now he has secured an entry at Bovington, Wheeler is expecting the two-day, 80-mile rally to be a tough test of both car and crew. He finished eighth overall at the venue last November, which gives him confidence for another good run. “Bovington is very different terrain to Snetterton. The concrete surface really tests tyre grip and the whole drive train gets a workout, especially on the fast sections where there are climbs and dips,” he says. “We are also up against some very quick local experts and we need to be ‘dialled in’ as a team from the word go to get a decent result. Changing from Snetterton will, I think, work out better for us in the long run.”
Steve Wheeler, Chris’s father, will co-drive at Bovington as Layland is not available.
Writer: Ian Harden

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