Author Archives: Howard Wilcock

2019 > The 66th year of Serious Fun!

The BTRDA is very pleased to confirm the calendar for the 2019 BTRDA Rally Series which will continue to be sponsored by JORDAN Road Surfacing.

It includes a great selection of one-day forest events, starting with the Cambrian Rally in North Wales in February and finishing at the end of September with the Trackrod Forest Stages in North Yorkshire.  The final points table will be based on each competitor’s best 5 scores, providing some flexibility to fit around family or business commitments.

2019 JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series

  • Cambrian Rally   16th February
  • Malcolm Wilson Rally   9th March
  • Rallynuts Stages Rally   13th April
  • Plains Rally   11th May
  • Nicky Grist Stages   13th July
  • Woodpecker Stages   31st  August
  • Trackrod Forest Stages   28th  September

The JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series is open to all stage rally cars compliant with current MSA Technical Regulations and, in addition to the Gold Star and Silver Star Rally Championships, includes the BTRDA 1400 Championship, BTRDA Rally First, the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup, Historic Cup, Production Cup and the Fiesta ST Trophy. The spread of competition

classes ensures that there is something for everyone. (more details and announcements to follow)  The 2019 BTRDA Rally Series will be taking advantage of flexible running order now permitted by the MSA.    

We are grateful for the wholehearted commitment of the event organisers and the support from our title sponsor without which we could not promote such a successful Rally Series.

Maintaining the ethos of the BTRDA, you can be sure that the 2019 JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series will continue to provide competitors and followers with some Serious Fun!

Main photo is the 2018 Silver Star Champions & BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup winners George Lepley and Tom Woodburn on the Rallynuts Stages.        (Photos courtesy of Kevin Money & Malcolm Almond)

PAYNE FULL OF CONFIDENCE…!

Preview of Round 8: Trackrod Forest Rally   (Photo is leading BTRDA 1400 contenders Chris Powell & Jim Lewis)      

Having won the Trackrod Forest Stages in both 2016 & 2017, it’ll be no surprise to learn that Charlie Payne/Carl Williamson are starting the final round of the JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series with No.1 on the doors of their Fiesta. While having no influence on the standings in this year’s BTRDA Gold Star® Rally Championship – a title they won for themselves in 2016 – their speed over the stages of the driver’s ‘home’ event will, doubtless, provide a yardstick for those still hoping for an improvement in their end-of-season results. It also goes without saying that 2017 Gold Star Champions – and Trackrod runners-up for the past two years – Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson (Fiesta WRC) would dearly like to go one better this time. Having triumphed on several BTRDA Rally Series events in the past, this one has thus far eluded them (by just 0.2 second last year! ). Meanwhile, 2008 Gold Star Champion Hugh Hunter and Manx co-driver Rob Fagg (Fiesta) will be keen to put their early demise from the recent Woodpecker Stages behind them and end the season on a high.

Class B13 is certainly going to be a race to the finish – having been leading the charge, Ian Joel/Graeme Wood’s retirement last time out, when their Escort Cosworth suffered damaged suspension, dropped them to 3rd in the category, allowing Matthew Hirst/Declan Dear (Lancer EVO9) and Lee & Craig Burgess (Impreza) to nip in front. Add a returning Richard Hill/Steffan Evans (Impreza) into the mix and there’ll be some fireworks while this one sorts itself out.

Having already put the BTRDA Production Cup out of reach of the chasing pack on the Nicky Grist Stages back in July, Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy were another crew not to see the finish line of the Woodpecker Stages after their Mitsubishi Lancer’s gearbox cried ‘enough’. Notwithstanding, as they arrive in Filey they’re occupying the final Gold Star Championship podium spot and a good run over the North York Moors could just seal a Top Three finish for the season. Mind you, their closest rivals, Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence, start right behind them and, with a score in hand over Thompson/Murphy, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that they could claim third place for themselves….

James Giddings/Sion Cunniff lead the MRF Fiesta ST Trophy from Mat & Tim Tordoff, and no matter what happens on the day, that order won’t change. However, being in a position to contest a rally without any Championship pressures to worry about will be a refreshing change for both crews!

The 2018 JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Silver Star Champions, George Lepley/Tom Woodburn, are absent on this occasion as they prepare for next weekend’s Wales Rally GB. Having dominated the inaugural BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup in their Fiesta, they won the prize-drive through the event’s ‘Road to Wales’ scheme.  Andy Davison/Tom Murphy (Talbot Sunbeam VXR – photo) are safe in runners-up spot in the Silver Star Championship but 3rd place, currently occupied by Ernie Graham/Robin Kellard’s Historic Spec. Escort Mk2, could have changed hands by the end of the day. Graham/Kellard are already confirmed as winners of the BTRDA Historic Cup this season and, while Barry Jordan/Paul Wakely’s Hillman Avenger could get very close to them in Yorkshire, so could Tom Coughtrie’s Mitsubishi Galant VR4. While, as previously discussed, George Lepley/Tom Woodburn have made the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup all their own this season, finishing with a full-house (five maximum scores), Bob Vardy/Keaton Williams’ runners-up spot could be under threat from Tony Simpson/Ian Bevan but, whatever the final order, it’ll be a Fiesta 1-2-3!

As we slowly adapt to the return of the lower-powered cars running at the front of the field, Guy Butler finds himself hogging the limelight as his BTRDA Rally First Championship specification Toyota Corolla T Sport will be the first car away from the start of the rally from the Forest Drive in Dalby at 09.01 on the Saturday morning. With reverse seeding in force, team-mate Matt Baddeley will have an extra couple of minutes in bed before setting off in his identical car, with the VW Lupo of Mark Cox attempting to keep the pair of them honest!

Stuart Spyer/Peter Williams lead the BTRDA 1400 Championship contingent into the stages in their Vauxhall Corsa but, once again, the action will be fast and furious…. The Corsas of Chris Bush/Robert Smith and Kieran Darrington/Simon Jones precede Steve Black’s Suzuki Swift and the Ka of Tommi Meadows/Emma Morrison, before the Nova of Dave & Freddy Brick and Chris Powell/Jim Lewis’ Talbot Sunbeam enter the fray. The maths in regard to these two crews is somewhat complicated but, should Powell take a maximum and Brick finish 4th or lower, the former will leapfrog the latter to become 2018 BTRDA 1400 Champion.   Don’t worry! It’ll all become perfectly clear on the day….

The MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship doesn’t reach the end of the road in Yorkshire. Contenders still have the Wyedean Stages, in early November to look forward to before 2017 victors Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson’s successors are known. In the meantime, competition is extremely tight with the top 6 drivers in the Championship covered by just 5 points. A graphic illustration of the Championship’s strength and depth would focus on Ian Joel who arrived at the start of the Woodpecker as series leader but, following his aforementioned demise, actually dropped ten places in the points table! There’s still time to make amends but with no margin for error!…

With both Matt Edwards and George Lepley not contesting the Trackrod Forest Rally because of Wales Rally GB the following weekend, it would appear that Tommi Meadows (Class 2), Ernie Graham (Class 4), Dave Brick (Class 2) and Matthew Hirst (Class 7) are in the best position to take a big step towards the title with a good result in Yorkshire.

<  Ernie Graham / Robin Kellard on the recent Woodpecker Stages

A full list of all the MAXXIS MSA English Championship points can be viewed at www.englishrally.co.uk/english-championship-points and this just shows the many permutations that can still occur depending on success on the Trackrod and the Wyedean.

For further information on the Trackrod Forest Stages visit: www.rallyyorkshire.co.uk
– ENDS

A NEW PECKING ORDER !…

Preview of Round 7:  Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages (1st September)

Following the MSA’s relaxation of the rules in respect of the running order on rallies, the Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages, the penultimate round of the JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series®, will see all the two-wheel drive cars in the entry traversing the stages first, in reverse order, before the four-wheel drive element leave the start ‘in the order of anticipated performance’. In this way it’s hoped that, over time, the numbers of lower powered cars that have dramatically declined in recent years, will begin to increase once more. Whether we ever return to the halcyon days of up to 60 1400cc cars battling it out in the forests remains to be seen but, in the meantime, as this season draws towards its conclusion, those 140 crews setting off from Ludlow Racecourse will need to give 100% concentration to the task in hand!

Having been victorious on three of the five Championship rounds that have taken place so far, and finished runners-up on a fourth, it’ll come as no surprise to learn that Matt Edwards/Darren Garrod lead the coveted JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Gold Star® Rally Championship in their Fiesta. With just the Woodpecker and Trackrod Forest Stages, which runs in the North Yorkshire forests to go, the North Walians require one more good result and the title will be theirs. However, as we all know, there’s many a slip, such that the ‘fat lady’ hasn’t even begun practising her scales yet!…

Fiestas are also currently the car of choice for many of those hoping to rain on Edwards/Garrod’s parade and include Luke Francis/John H Roberts and the defending Gold Star Champions – and 2016 Woodpecker winners – Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson. Then 2008 Gold Star Champion Hugh Hunter, accompanied by Manxman Rob Fagg, Sacha Kakad/Jamie Edwards and Ilminster husband-and-wife Martyn & Dawn England will all be hoping for a slice of the action as well!

<  Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy have already put this year’s BTRDA Production Cup out of the reach of their pursuers. Four category wins and a second in their Group NR4 Mitsubishi Lancer have ensured that the best that former champions Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence can hope for is runners-up spot, but that isn’t safe yet either!..

Contenders for the MRF Fiesta ST Trophy, who also qualify for Group N but whose two-wheel drive cars will be running in the first section of the entry, include James Giddings, Mat Tordoff and Zak Hughes, each of whom are currently holding podium places. Meanwhile, teenager Ewan Tindall, whose entry into the series was necessarily delayed until he passed his driving test, has already shown the opposition a clean pair of heels on one occasion and is well placed to considerably improve his overall standing by the end of the season.

The JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Silver Star® Championship has seen different winners on each of the five rounds so far. Most recently it was Max Utting/Mike Ainsworth (Fiesta ST Max), but consistency sees George Lepley/Tom Woodburn’s R2 version leading at present.  2018 heralded the inaugural BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup and, back in the spring, it was announced that the leaders at the conclusion of the Woodpecker would receive a free entry to Wales Rally GB National through the ‘Road to Wales’ scheme. However, George & Tom haven’t had to wait that long to claim their prize – their total domination of the R2 Cup has seen them run out winners on all five events to date, leaving the opposition trailing in their wake! They will leave Ludlow Racecourse a minute behind Utting/Ainsworth as they attempt to make it six out of six!

 <   Max Utting/Mike Ainsworth (Fiesta ST Max) on their way to Silver Star victory on the Nicky Grist Stages

Following an aberration on the Welshpool-based Plains Rally in May which saw their Escort Mk2 failing to reach the finish, Ernie Graham/Robin Kellard returned to their winning ways next time out, on the Carlisle Stages, in pursuit of victory in the BTRDA Historic Cup. Their nearest challengers are series sponsor Barry Jordan and co-driver Paul Wakely in the former’s Hillman Avenger, while Tom Coughtrie’s Mitsubishi Galant VR4 has already made sure of the newly-instigated Class H4.

As mentioned above, the BTRDA 1400 and BTRDA Rally First Championships are not currently attracting the numbers they once were. However, the commitment from those who are competing in such vehicles is no less formidable, such that Chris Powell’s Talbot Sunbeam leads the Nova of Dave Brick by a single point as they head for the Woodpecker Stages. The Brick family farm overlooks Ludlow Racecourse and, consequently, there’ll be no worries in regard to getting stuck in traffic on the way to the start! What he and Chris Powell will need to concern themselves with, however, is the presence of Kieran Darrington (Corsa) who, after several seasons away from the sport, has removed any doubts as to his ‘match fitness’ with a string of good results, and Tommi Meadows – son of 2000 BTRDA Gold Star Champion Martin – whose Ka came up trumps in Carlisle.

                                                                                                                              Chris Powell / Jim Lewis on the recent Nicky Grist Stages  >

Team-mates Matt Baddeley and Guy Butler continue their friendly (we hope!) rivalry for BTRDA Rally First Championship honours on the Woodpecker Stages in their identical Toyota Corolla Sports. Prior to the start, Matt leads Guy by one point but, with up to 20 on offer on each event, that could easily have changed by close of play…

So, whatever the outside temperature on 1st September, we can guarantee that the pace will be very hot! There’s a lot at stake and, certainly as far as this season is concerned, time is running out for those with designs on the various BTRDA titles!…    The first car leaves Ludlow Racecourse at 8.30am and is due to finish the event at around 4.40pm.

AH       All photographs courtesy of Kevin Money / Malcolm Almond

SHOWGROUND SHOWDOWN!…

Preview of Round 6: Nicky Grist Stages – 14th July                                            Photo is Pat Naylor / Ian Lawrence on the Carlisle Stages … and yes they were trying very hard!  

As contenders for the JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series prepare for their second visit of the season to the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells for the Nicky Grist Stages, the pressure on the leaders – not to mention those who have designs on podium places! – in each of its various facets is beginning to mount. With just two rounds to go after this weekend, no-one is yet in a position to relax. Indeed, apart from the inaugural BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup which, thus far, has been completely monopolised by the Fiesta of George Lepley/Tom Woodburn, each category has seen at least two different winners from the four events that have already taken place.

Meanwhile, contenders for the MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship are really only just getting into their stride. The unfortunate cancellation of the Malcolm Wilson Rally put the start of this year’s ERC back to the Carlisle Stages at the beginning of June, with the Quinton Motor Club-organised Nicky Grist Stages as the second round, and then there are still another three to complete after this weekend.

Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson won last year’s Nicky Grist Stages, on their way to claiming the BTRDA Gold Star® Championship crown – and the MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship – and have made no secret of their wish to repeat the exercise in 2018.  However, their efforts have so far been somewhat upstaged by Matt Edwards/ Darren Garrod (Fiesta WRC) and current BTRDA Rally Series leaders Paul Bird/Jack Morton (Focus WRC) who have amassed two maximum scores apiece.   

2016 Nicky Grist Stages winners Luke Francis/John H Roberts have changed their allegiance to a Fiesta WRC this season – with mixed results. A couple of excellent second-place points scores have been bookended by DNFs, placing them just outside the Top Ten in the Gold Star Championship points. There’s still time to make amends but any further ‘misfortunes’ will cost them dearly. 2016 Gold Star Champions Charlie Payne/Carl Williamson start behind them in their hastily-repaired Fiesta following its inversion last time out in Kielder, while Sacha Kakad/James Aldridge continue to acquaint themselves with their new R5 Fiesta. Martyn & Dawn England (Fiesta R5+) were 4th overall on last year’s Nicky Grist Stages and the Ilminster husband-and-wife team return in an attempt to improve on that excellent result.

Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence travelled back to the Midlands from Carlisle last month with maximum BTRDA Production Cup points in the bag but, up until then, Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy had come out on top of the Lancer EVO battle and that, allied to their 100% finishing record, sees them arriving in Builth Wells as top dogs. The Impreza of Jon Ross/Martin Auskerin returns after absenting itself from the trip up north and a good result now will keep both car and crew in the mix.

Meanwhile, there’s a strong Welsh element to the MRF Fiesta ST Trophy entry! The top seeded crew is Zak Hughes (Welshpool) & Tom Wood (Cwmbran) who’ll be followed a couple of minutes later by Kalvin Green (Treorchy)/Osian Owen (Rhyl) and current leaders James Giddings (Swansea)/Sion Cunniff (Gaerwen). Mathew & Tim Tordoff are the highest placed ‘English’ crew prior to the Nicky Grist but they all need to be keeping a sharp eye out for 17-years old Ewan Tindall and co-driver Paul Hudson who, on the grounds of the driver’s age, have only been able to contest the last two events – and ‘won’ the second!…

As JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Silver Star® Championship leaders following the Carlisle Stages, Rob Dennis/Andy Boswell have the honour of being the first of the main series contenders away from the Showground in their Escort Mk2. Right behind them are Owen McMackin/Lee Taylor in their larger-engined version, with Allan McDowall/Gavin Heseltine’s 2.5 litre car and the Sunbeam VXR of Andy Davison/Tom Murphy also in close attendance.

As mentioned above, George Lepley’s stranglehold on the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup is such that, unless something untoward happens on the Nicky Grist Stages, he will qualify for the free entry to Wales Rally GB through the ‘Road to Wales’ scheme. Nevertheless, the words ‘chickens’ and ‘counting’ spring to mind!… Will Graham/Steven Davey, in another Fiesta, are handily placed to benefit from any misfortune that may occur to the current R2 Cup leader and then ‘crunch time’ – when the prize-winner is revealed – is at the finish of the Woodpecker Stages at the beginning of September. Bob Vardy, Roger Nevitt and a returning Sam Bilham, (the 2017 Fiesta ST Champion) also in Fiesta R2’s, are also sure to provide George with some strong competition.

George Lepley/Tom Woodburn (Fiesta) – BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup Leaders on the Carlisle Stages

In the battle for the BTRDA Historic Cup, normal service was resumed on the Carlisle Stages following a blip on the previous month’s Plains Rally. Ernie Graham/Robin Kellard not only took their Escort to a category win but also claimed 3rd-place Silver Star points in the process! Tom Coughtrie’s Mitsubishi Galant VR4, which had also failed to finish the Plains, went some way to restoring its driver’s faith with a class win to keep it in contention for the overall lead.

So, we now move on to the contenders for the BTRDA 1400 & Rally First Championships who, along with crews in Historic Category 1 & 2 cars (+ Category 3 with single cam engines), will start at the front of the field, following the MSA’s relaxation of the rules regarding the running order on events, but in reverse order. Still with us? Splendid!….

Perhaps the people who need to be most aware of the situation are Emma Morrison, who has switched roles to take over the driving seat for this event, and Jon Quintrell who will be first away from the start of the Nicky Grist Stages in a Rally First Volkswagen Lupo GTI. The two Rally First 2.0 litre Toyota Corollas of Championship leader Matthew Baddeley and Guy Butler resume their friendly rivalry – on the Carlisle Stages, one didn’t start and the other didn’t finish!… Having also been absent last time, leaders after the opening round, Sam & Liam Johnson, will be hoping that their Seat Arosa will be in a position to give them a second maximum in mid Wales.

The ‘Historic’ Hillman Avenger of series sponsor Barry Jordan and co-driver Paul Wakely, who also missed out on the finish celebrations in Carlisle, starts a minute in front of Tommi Meadows’ Ford Ka, 1400 Championship winner last time. Then Steve Black’s Suzuki Swift has each of the current top six drivers in the table breathing down his neck, viz. Stuart Spyer (Corsa), Perry Gardener (Nova), Richard Cole (Escort MkII), Kieran Darrington (Corsa), Chris Powell (Sunbeam) and Dave Brick (Nova). Fireworks in July? You’d better believe it!…

 

                                                                                                                Chris Powell / Jim Lewis (Talbot Sunbeam) on the recent Carlisle Stages

 

Following the opening round of the MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship, as a class-based series, a look at the points tables reveals multiple leaders. It’s only now, as contenders have a second chance to exert their supremacy that the number of names with maximum points begins to decrease. Those dining out on their success prior to the Nicky Grist include Ernie Graham (Escort Mk2), George Lepley (Fiesta R2), Paul Bird (Focus WRC), Tommi Meadows (Ka) and Ian Joel (Escort Cosworth). It goes without saying that all these good folk are preparing for a trip to Builth Wells on 14th July!

The first car (Emma Morrison/Jon Quintrell) leaves the start of the Nicky Grist Stages at 8.31am on Saturday morning and on the menu are 45 miles of special stages in some of the classic mid-Wales forests. Cars then begin arriving at the finish from 3.30pm that afternoon.  For further information on the Nicky Grist Stages, visit: www.nickygriststages.co.uk

AH             (Photographs courtesy of Kevin Money & Malc Almond)