If you go down to the woods around Limavady this weekend you may come across a rare phenomenon — the leader of the Northern Ireland rally championship who has never driven on gravel.
Stuart Biggerstaff is the 22-year-old rookie who has steered his way to the top of the Hankook-sponsored series through the first half of the season — a half which has consisted entirely of tarmac road stages.
But now the championship switches to the forests, starting with Saturday’s Dogleap Rally, and young Biggerstaff coyly admits he has never, not once, tackled a gravel special stage.
He says it is going to be “a shock to the system” but insists he “can’t wait to get start”.
“I'm really looking forward to sliding the car about,” he enthuses. “Unfortunately, for various reasons, I haven’t be able to do any testing beforehand so the first stage on Saturday will be my first time on gravel.
“I know it is going be a shock to the system and another major learning curve but I can't wait to get my teeth into it.”
Stuart only started rallying late last year but he is the son of former British rallycross champion and two-time Northern Ireland title-holder Denis Biggerstaff who has bitten the bullet and allowed his son to drive his own S9 Subaru Impreza WRC.
The rally begins from Dowland Road, Limavady at 9.45 am.
Top of the entry list: 1 Kenny McKinstry (Subaru Impreza), 2 Raymond Johnston (Mitsubishi Lancer), 3 Donagh Kelly (Mitsubishi Lancer) 4 Johnny McKenna (Mitsubishi Lancer), 5 Stuart Biggerstaff (Subaru Impreza), 6 Tristan Pye (Subaru Impreza), 7 Richarad Hogg (Mitsubishi Lancer), 8 Cyril Doherty (Subaru Impreza), 9 Trevor Ferguson (Subaru Impreza), 10 Martin Cairns (Subaru Impreza).