Author Archives: Howard Wilcock

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

The BTRDA is very pleased to announce an exciting new incentive for Junior Drivers contesting the JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series which has been donated by Adam Kent, the 1998 BTRDA Gold Star Rally Champion.

Adam’s company, Install Automation Ltd, will provide a £2,500 prize fund for a leading BTRDA Junior Driver* to be used for entries to events in the 2020 BTRDA Rally Series.

The winner will be chosen by the BTRDA Rallies Committee from a short-list of the three drivers with the highest total points score on the remaining 4 rounds of the 2019 BTRDA Junior Championship, starting with the Plains Rally.  The prize will be presented by Adam at the 2019 BTRDA Rally Series Awards Evening in January.

“It’s 21 years since I won the BTRDA Gold Star Rally Championship said Adam, and it’s great to be able to put something back into the sport and provide some support to talented young drivers who were born around that time”

Home Automation & Lighting Control/Design

www.installautomation.com

*  To qualify as a Junior Driver you must have been born on or after 1st January 1995.

Main photo is George Lepley / Tom Woodburn on the recent Rallynuts Stages.   21 year old George is currently leading the 2019 BTRDA Junior Drivers.  This new prize will be based on the scores from the remaining 4 events starting with the Plains Rally.

PLAINS TAKES OFF FOR OSWESTRY….!

Marking a change to the recent format of Knutsford & DMC’s Plains Rally, the Shropshire market town of Oswestry is preparing to welcome competitors for the fourth round of the JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series®, and third of the MAXXIS Motorsport UK 2019 English Rally Championship, which takes place on Saturday 11th May. However, whether the move signals a change in the fortunes of the current front-runners remains to be seen!…

The JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Gold Star® Rally Championship has, so far, been the preserve of Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton whose Ford Focus WRC has proved unbeatable on each of the three events to date. It goes without saying, therefore, that the Scotsmen arrive at the start of Round 4 as series leaders and, having won the Plains Rally in both 2013 & 2014, it would be seen as brave to bet against them doing it for a third time! That said, a bad day at the office could potentially see them demoted from their exalted position at the top!

 

<<< This is currently the view that everyone else has of Gold Star leaders Euan Thorburn & Paul Beaton’s Focus!

Having managed to avoid the pitfalls that have interrupted the progress of many others, Scott Faulkner & Gareth Parry’s Group N Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9 (see main photo) is the current occupant of runner-up spot in the Gold Star table. However, as the season reaches the halfway point, there’s still plenty of room for manoeuvre in each of the classes and categories that make up the BTRDA Rally Series!

Irishmen Mark Donnelly and Connor McCloskey return in their Fiestas as they seek to capitalise on their 2nd & 4th places respectively last time out on the Rallynuts Stages. Then Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson, whose own Fiesta finished between the two Irish R5s a month ago, need to keep the momentum going. DNFs on the opening two events in the calendar have left them with no further margin for error, no matter how caused, if they are to deem their campaign a success. Sam Bilham’s experience in an R5 continues to expand – two consecutive Top Six finishes have seen him and co-driver Patrick Walsh move into the upper echelons of the points table and more of the same would prove beneficial to the pair!

Class B13 has developed into something of a ‘now you see ‘em, now you don’t’ affair! Different crews have taken maximum points on each of the first three events but, in each case, that’s the only score they’ve managed to put on the board. Hence, Ian Bainbridge (Impreza), Matthew Hirst (Lancer EVO9) and Ian Joel (Escort Cosworth) find themselves huddled together at the foot of the table. The consistency shown by both Richard Hill (Impreza) and Richard Sykes (Lancer EVO9) sees them in 1st & 2nd places, while their co-drivers – Simon Taylor (Sykes) and Steffan Evans (Hill) – also dominate the sharp end of the table, albeit diametrically opposed to their drivers!  

 

Petr Krizan & Lukas Sintal were on course to join them, but rolling their EVO9 right in front of the BTRDA photographers on the Rallynuts Stages has put any such euphoria on hold!                                >>>

 

As mentioned above, Scott Faulkner/Gareth Parry’s season has started extremely well and, in addition to their Gold Star success, they also currently lead the BTRDA Production Cup. As far as the opposition is concerned, it’s turning into a game of ‘Snakes & Ladders’! Having led the charge after the Cambrian, Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence didn’t finish the Malcolm Wilson but came back strongly on the Rallynuts Stages. Meanwhile, although defending champions Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy also had a day to forget in the Lake District, actually getting their EVO9 to the finish gained them some valuable points. However, there was to be no such happy ending last time out as the car finished up on its roof on the opening stage….

Zak Hughes/Tom Wood’s domination of the MRF Fiesta ST Trophy – three wins from three starts – has also moved them into the ascendancy in the overall Production Cup points table where, prior to the Plains Rally, they are Faulkner/Parry’s biggest headache. So, in Fiesta ST terms, it’s Wales in the lead (Hughes/Wood) from Scotland (Bobby Mitchell/Shannon Turnbull), with Ireland (David Kelly/Kenny Bustard) in 3rd. England is obviously far too busy with Brexit – no results to speak of there either!….

By fitting a larger capacity BRM engine in Baz Jordan’s Hillman Avenger, the JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Silver Star® Championship leader George Lepley (with Tom Woodburn) automatically changed classes to H3 for the Rallynuts Stages. However, that’s the only thing that did change! 13th overall and first 2WD car home ensured that he not only maintained, but also extended, his lead in both the Silver Star Championship and BTRDA Historic Cup and won the £500 award for the highest placed BTRDA Historic Cup driver!  This was despite the heroic efforts of both Ben Friend / Cliff Simmons, 15th overall (Escort Mk2) and Tom Llewellin / Ross Whittock, 18th overall (Escort Mk2) who were pressing him all the way.

 

Ben Friend & Cliff Simmons (class H3) pushing very hard on the Rallynuts Stages >>>

 

 

BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup leaders Perry Gardener/Keaton Williams (Fiesta) are clinging to Lepley’s shirt tails in the Silver Star Championship – indeed, Williams leads the Co-drivers’ table – but in R2 Cup terms, with two firsts and one 2nd place, they’ve earned themselves a bit of breathing space from Tony Simpson/Ian Bevan. Even so, any mistakes will be penalised as Tommi Meadows and the Tordoffs, Mat & Tim, also remain within striking distance.  If perseverance counts for anything, Taylor Gibb/Jane Nicol must be due for a change of fortune soon – their score sheet shows three starts and three retirements while, breaking the R2 Fiesta monopoly, Jersey’s Ed Fossey returns for the Plains Rally, with Rhys Stoneman riding shotgun, in his Peugeot 208.

<<< Perry Gardener & Keaton Williams leading the BTRDA Rally R2 Cup

 

Even with four events still to run, the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA 1400 Championship is shaping up for a grandstand finale. The current Top Six have finished all three rounds so far and the 7th placed driver – Callum Black – missed the opening encounter, only to take maximums on the two he has contested….

                             Callum Black & Michael Gilbey’s MG ZR on its way to BTRDA 1400 Championship success on the Rallynuts Stages  >>>

So, Chris Powell/Jim Lewis (Talbot Sunbeam) currently hold the bragging rights, but the Suzuki Swift of Steve Black/Paul Morris isn’t far behind. Dominic Hodge/Stefan Arndt’s Micra has the edge over Noel Lappin’s Escort – just! – while 1400C leaders, with three maximums already, Mat & Dan Evans (Peugeot 205) have a narrow advantage over the Micra of classmates Richard Garnett/Rob Gilham.

The BTRDA Rally First Championship will see Wesley Gilford’s 2.0 Fiesta ST attempting to fend off the attentions of series leader Joseph Keen’s MG ZR and the formerly successful – but currently recalcitrant! – Seat Arosa of Sam & Liam Johnson….

Following its recent visit to the closed-road asphalt Tendring Clacton Rally, the MAXXIS Motorsport UK 2019 English Rally Championship now moves to the Welsh borders – or should that be English borders?… – for Round 3.  Joint leaders in the class-based series prior to the off are Euan Thorburn (Focus WRC), Ian Joel (Escort Cosworth), Andy Davison (Talbot Sunbeam VXR), George Lepley (Avenger) and Zak Hughes (Fiesta ST), each of whom will be fighting to make top spot their own!

Similarly, Sam Bilham (Fiesta), Richard Hill (Impreza), Callum Black (MG ZR), Tony Simpson (Fiesta R2) and Tim Phelps (Ford Escort) are a mere two points behind the leaders and currently share 6th place. Judged on how well they each perform against others in their respective classes, further success will pay dividends as the season progresses.

The first of the 12O+ starters on the Plains Rally leaves Oswestry at 8.00am on Saturday 13th May and heads for special stages in Dyfnant, Aberhirnant and Llangower which offer 42 miles of competition.  Once completed, the finish back in Oswestry beckons from 3.45pm that afternoon.

Words by Andrew Haill. Photos courtesy of Kevin Money & Malcolm Almond.

RALLYNUTS CRACKER !…

The Rallynuts Stages, Round 3 of the JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series, has attracted a superb entry of 137 cars that will all be converging on the Royal Welsh Agricultural Showground in Builth Wells for the event which takes place on 13th April.

Thus far the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Gold Star® Championship has been dominated by Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton whose Ford Focus WRC has claimed outright victories on both the Cambrian & Malcolm Wilson Rallies. Last time the Scotsmen had a serious tilt at the Gold Star title – they won it in 2013 – the Rallynuts Stages wasn’t part of the calendar. So, will any possible unfamiliarity of the terrain prevent them making it three-in-a-row?…   As you can imagine, in an entry of this size, there’ll be people queueing up to wish them bad luck (in the nicest possible way, of course!) on their visit to mid Wales!  With five events remaining and with just the five best scores to count towards the end-of-season tally, it’s still quite possible for anyone to still register for the JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series at the Rallynuts Stages and to clean up….

            Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton’s Focus WRC going about its business on the Malcolm Wilson Rally!    >>>

Like Thorburn/Beaton, another driver who’ll be a long way from home is Irishman Connor McCloskey who has already proved that he has some empathy with the stages, winning the event on his last visit in 2017! It’s also perhaps worth mentioning that, having missed the Cambrian, Connor only managed to complete the opening stage of the Malcolm Wilson Rally in his Fiesta before he was forced to retire, but he did set FTD….

2016 Gold Star Champions Charlie Payne/Carl Williamson’s season could have started better, but that of their successors, Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson, hasn’t started at all yet! In BTRDA terms, their Fiesta has recorded two consecutive DNFs and really needs a good result this time to kick-start its challenge.

Sam Bilham’s introduction to a Fiesta R5 continues and, following a very respectable Top Six finish on the Malcolm Wilson, he and Patrick Walsh will be looking to progress further up the learning curve in Wales.

After their retirement on the Cambrian, Ian Joel/Graeme Wood’s 2nd overall in Cumbria in their Escort Cosworth has certainly livened up the Class B13 battle. However, with two good scores to his credit, Richard Hill’s Impreza leads the charge from Petr Krizan/Lukas Sintal’s Lancer EVO9. Finding themselves in a similar situation to Petch/Wilkinson, Matthew Hirst/Declan Dear’s 2019 scorecard currently reads: Started 2 – Finished 0. Hence, they won’t need to phone a friend – or anyone else! – in search of an answer to their situation. Early leader Ian Bainbridge (Impreza) must also put his Cumbrian DNF behind him and look to restoring his advantage as the season moves towards the halfway point.

Scott Faulkner/Gareth Parry (Lancer EVO9) hold the upper hand in the BTRDA Production Cup, but Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy and Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence, whose own EVO9 was eventually recovered undamaged from a Lake District ditch, won’t be going away any time soon!                                                                                                                                                            

<<<<<<<  Scott Faulkner/Gareth Parry (Lancer EVO9) – BTRDA Production Cup Leaders

With two MRF Fiesta ST Trophy to their credit already, Zak Hughes/Tom Wood are mixing it with their turbo-charged four-wheel drive counterparts in the overall Production Cup table.  As the only Fiesta crew to maintain a 100% finishing record to date, whatever happens on the Rallynuts Stages, the pair will still be leading at the end of it. However, should something go awry, the likes of Bobby Mitchell, Steven Ormond-Smith and several others could be an awful lot nearer to them than is currently the case!

Nobody seems to have told George Lepley that an Historic specification Hillman Avenger is not the sort of car that one readily associates with leading the BTRDA Silver Star® Championship. [See main photograph] Nevertheless, following an exceptional couple of runs, (11th overall and first 2WD car on the Malcolm Wilson! ) it is to be found at the top of the points table and, at the same time, shares joint ownership of the BTRDA Historic Cup with David Gathercole’s Escort RS1600.  In addition George won the £500 prize for the highest placed Historic Car and the £150 TCS prize for the highest placed Junior driver.

Damian Pratts/Jonny Tad Evans were closest to Lepley on the Cambrian but tipping their Escort upside down in the Lake District prevented them from maintaining the pressure. So, the Rallynuts Stages presents them with a further opportunity… Zak Hughes’ efforts are paying dividends in the Silver Star category as well but, behind him, there are a trio of R2 Fiestas in the hands of Perry Gardener, James Giddings and Tommi Meadows who, after just two rounds, are too close for comfort!

In the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup itself, Fiestas certainly rule the roost with the top seven places currently occupied by such vehicles. Gardener leads, Malcolm Wilson ‘winner’ Tony Simpson is next and then tied for third place are Giddings and Meadows but, as ever, one slip and the look of the points table could alter significantly…

<<<<<<<  In spite of inverting their Fiesta, Ross Leach/Hannah McKillop carried on to score good R2 Cup points in Cumbria!

The Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA 1400 Championship has the makings of a gigantic tussle this year – numbers are on the up and the top six cars, led by the Talbot Sunbeam of Chris Powell / Jim Lewis, have already banked two scores. Then Callum Black/Michael Gilbey (MGZR) missed the Cambrian and came out on top in Cumbria, while Dave & Toby Brick (Corsa) were Powell’s closest rivals in North Wales but then opted out of the trip to the north west.  They’re all present in Builth Wells – so, stand (well!) back and watch the fireworks…

Mat & Dan Evans’ Peugeot 205 has proved victorious in Class 1400C on both outings to date, but, at the same time, has been unable to shake off the attentions of the Nissan Micra of Richard Garnett/Rob Gilham. Nobody’s relaxing here yet, either!…

Joseph Keen’s MG ZR took top honours in the BTRDA Rally First Championship on the Cambrian Rally but then sat out the trip to the north-west. Starting their campaign on Round 2, Sam & Liam Johnson were unable to capitalise on the leader’s absence when their Seat Arosa stopped after three of the eight stages on offer in the Lake District. So, for the first time this season, we now have the chance of a head-to-head…

The first car leaves the start of the Rallynuts Stages at 8.30am on Saturday 13th April for the first of six special stages, totalling 44 miles, and is due to return to the Showground for the finish at 4.00pm that afternoon.

Note: Competitors who have not yet registered for 2019 can do so via the on-line BTRDA membership and registration system or print off a Registration Form and post it to the BTRDA Membership Secretary Paul Price.  If all else fails, you can still register at the BTRDA desk on the Friday afternoon / early evening before a championship event.  The Registration fee includes BTRDA club membership and registration for both the BTRDA Rally Series and the English Rally Championship. (BTRDA membership gives eligibility to all BTRDA Rally Series and English Rally Championship events). There is a £10 discount if both members of the crew register together. NB: BTRDA membership and Rally Championship registration is FREE to new BTRDA members under the age of 25 on 1st Jan 2019, for their first year of registration.

All photos © Kevin Money or Malc Almond