Author Archives: Howard Wilcock

A MIRAGE IN THE FOREST !….

Tom Llewellin, son of 1989 and 1990 British Rally Champion David, is to contest the 2021 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series in a Spencer Sport Mitsubishi Mirage R5. The 20-year old from Rudbaxton entered his first Junior Rally at Knockhill in 2015 and, until the enforced Covid break, had been gaining valuable experience ever since.
2018 saw Tom joining the Swift Sport Rallycross series and then, three months after his 17th birthday, he entered the Nicky Grist Stages for his first taste of ‘proper’ rallying! A full-scale assault on the Welsh Championship in an Historic-spec. Escort Mk2 was on the menu for the following season and, although still learning the art of driving a RWD car quickly and acclimatising himself to the use of pace-notes, he finished 3rd overall in the Championship, picking up the U-23 and 2WD awards along the way!
The Cambrian was to be the only rally Tom started last year – 9th overall and 1st 2WD were an excellent foretaste of what he hoped was to come in a full season of the British Historic Championship. Alas, it was not to be and now he says ‘I’m really looking forward to this opportunity to contest the BTRDA Rally Series and can’t wait to see what I can do in a four-wheel drive car’! Tom – you’re not the only one!…
Among others who also have their eyes on the prestigious BTRDA Gold Star® Championship crown is Callum Black (Fiesta R5), who narrowly missed out on the title in 2017 when he finished runner-up to Stephen Petch. Martyn England and Hugh Brunton are also pinning their hopes of success on a Fiesta R5, while the duelling Mitsubishi Lancers of Pat Naylor, Russ Thompson and Matthew Hirst are also back for more of the same. Based on past performances, someone they’ll all need to keep an eye on, however, is George Lepley who is set to reappear in the Lancer EVO X that took him to 2nd overall – and maximum BTRDA Series points – on the 2019 Woodpecker Stages….
Brace yourselves!…

Note: Entries for Round 1 of the 2021 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series, the Nicky Grist Stages, open from 6pm on Monday 24th May. For the first few days entries have been reserved specifically for 2021 Championship registered crews, but we expect there will be a huge demand for entries, so please don’t delay submitting your entry. More info can be found at www.nickygriststages.co.uk

The main photo shows Tom’s Mirage being put through its paces during a recent test.    © Stan’s Photos

BTRDA JUNIOR R2 1600 CUP ANNOUNCED

Running within the 2021 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series, the BTRDA is delighted to announce an exciting new initiative for Junior drivers, i.e. those under 25 years old on 1st January 2021.

The top three drivers in normally-aspirated R2 1600s will benefit from cash awards on each round1st £150, 2nd £125, 3rd £75 – and the driver of the highest-placed Fiesta on each event will also receive a parts voucher, to the value of £150, from reigning double British Rally Champion Matt Edwards.   [Subject to a minimum of five registered competitors]

There will be a free pre-season test session at Forest Experience Rally School for all the BTRDA 1600 R2 runners (not just juniors).

In addition at the end of the season, the BTRDA Junior R2 Cup winner will be in line for : –

  • A Kielder WT Tools package
  • On the Pace Note’ notes + DVD’s for the following year (max of 6 and subject to OTPN being involved in the events they contest)
  • Next Steps’ coaching via Trevor Agnew (plus a group session for all contenders prior to the start of the season)
  • 1-2-1 coaching at their own test from Tom Williams (ex JWRC Driver)
  • A R5 20km test from 586 Engineering + insurance from Shepherd Compello (This does not include any excess)

Tony Simpson, of Seacon UK, who has put the package together, says “The R2 Cup has been the most competitive class in BTRDA over the last few years and the 1600 R2 cars across all the brands that produce them are now very much the entry level for an aspiring Junior driver. With this in mind, David Williams, of Genesis 3D Design, and I set about putting a prize structure together and, once some of my own existing partners heard of our plans, they all wanted to get involved!  We now have one of the most comprehensive prize packages seen at national level for many years and we are all very proud and excited!  We engaged with the BTRDA at an early stage in our planning and we now have a great category for under 25 drivers in any brand of R2 1600.”

On behalf of the BTRDA, Rallies Committee Chair Neil Cross commented “The BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup has been a great success since we introduced it to the BTRDA Rally Series a few years ago and now it’s become one of most hotly-contested Cups. Tony Simpson and David Williams have taken that formula as a basis for an exciting new Cup and prize-fund to encourage Junior drivers to join us using modern, available cars with a proven record in the World Rally Championship.”           Tony Simpson in action on the 2020 Malcolm Wilson Rally >>>

Note:  BTRDA Rally Series registration and BTRDA Club membership are free to new members under 25 for their first year of registration.  

The featured image is of 2015 BTRDA Junior Drivers Champion Rhys Yates in a 1600 R2 Fiesta. © Ralliphotoswales.

Although the Fiesta is the most popular 1600 normally aspirated R2 car in the UK, there are many other eligible R2 cars including the Peugeot 208 R2, Opel Adam R2, Renault Twingo II, Škoda Fabia R2, Citroën C2R2,and the Suzuki Swift R2. 

Below are photos of the 2018 BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup winner George Lepley and the 2019 BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup winner Perry Gardener

UNDER STARTERS ORDERS ?

The BTRDA is pleased to confirm that Regulations for the 2021 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series are now available (see the Competitor section of this website) and that the 2021 on-line BTRDA Membership / Championship Registration is now open.

It is currently envisaged that the BTRDA Rally Series will begin on Saturday 10th July with the Nicky Grist Stages and feature seven rounds, of which each competitor’s five best scores will count towards their final Championship positions.

The 2021 BTRDA Rally Series calendar* is as follows : –

  • 19th June     Kielder Forest Stages / Hexham
  • 10th July     Nicky Grist Stages  / Builth Wells
  • 24th July     Scottish Rally / Lockerbie
  • 14th August     Plains Rally / Mallwyd, Mid Wales
  • 4th September     Woodpecker Stages / Ludlow
  • 25th September     Trackrod Forest Stages / Filey
  • 30th October     Cambrian Rally / Llandudno
  • 13th November     Rallynuts Stages / Royal Welsh Showground

* Subject to any further restrictions imposed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The comprehensive class structure, that has proved so popular in the past, is maintained.  The BTRDA Gold Star® Championship (Overall), BTRDA Silver Star® Championship (Two-Wheel Drive) and BTRDA 1400 Championship (for which the overall winners will receive BTRDA Bronze Stars) are augmented by the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally First Championship, the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup (with on event cash prizes), the BTRDA Rallye R5 Cup and the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup.  In addition we will soon be announcing an exciting new Junior 1600 R2 Cup competition.   

As previously announced, all competitors who were registered for the BTRDA Rally Series (which includes the Motorsport UK English Rally Championship and the MRF Mixed Surface Challenge) in 2020 can register for the same championship in 2021 at zero cost, leaving you with just the cost of BTRDA club membership which has been held at £30.00 per person for a further year.  (Note:  For the on-line system to be able to detect you were registered for the BTRDA Forest Rally Series in 2020 you must use the same Username that you did in 2020 and you must rejoin BTRDA rather than joining as a new member).  

BTRDA Rally Series registration and BTRDA membership are free to new members under 25 years of age on the 1st January 2021, for their first year of registration.

Covid restrictions dictate that the traditional pre-event Signing-On sessions will not take place and, hence, the opportunity to actually register for the BTRDA Series on events will be severely compromised. Nevertheless, we want you to join in some ‘Serious Fun’ and, hence, we would implore all prospective contenders to avail themselves of the online registration system prior to their first appearance of the season.  Alternatively there is a Membership / Registration form which can be downloaded.

Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton were the BTRDA Gold Star Champions in 2019 and Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson (pictured in their Fiesta © Kevin Money) were leading the charge last year after 2 events before we were forced to call a halt to the proceedings. So, we can’t wait to see who will take the limelight in the Gold, Silver & Bronze Stars once we’re up and running once more!

We can also confirm that the team from Special Stage will be on hand to record the action from every event in the forthcoming season….

For further details, contact Ian Arden – Tel : 07917 355169/E-mail : [email protected]

ONWARDS – AND UPWARDS !…

ONWARDS – AND UPWARDS!…

Following the enforced curtailment of the 2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series and Motorsport UK 2020 English Rally Championship in association with Seacon, we now look forward to the 2021 season with renewed vigour and are pleased to announce a well-spaced calendar of events beginning with the Kielder Forest Rally in mid June. The BTRDA Rally Series maintains its position as the UK’s most popular Stage Rally Championship, catering for any vehicle complying with current Motorsport UK Technical Regulations.

The comprehensive class structure, that has proved so popular in the past, is maintained with the BTRDA Gold Star® Championship (Overall), BTRDA Silver Star® Championship (Two-Wheel Drive) and BTRDA 1400 Championship (for which the overall winners will receive BTRDA Bronze Stars) are augmented by the BTRDA Rallye R5 Cup, BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup and the BTRDA Historic Cup.

The BTRDA Rally First Championship, for which eligible vehicles are only allowed minimal modifications to their original specification (except when it comes to safety!), is viewed as both an excellent entry-level series and an ideal way for those reacquainting themselves with the sport to compete.

> The much reduced preparation and running costs make Rally First a more affordable option for competitors, even with a limited budget.
> For those who prefer to leave the car preparation to others and hire a rally car, the deals on offer will reflect the lower preparation and running costs of a Rally First car.
> Hiring a Rally First car is also a good way to experience stage rallying for the first time as a competitor, before making the decision to invest in your own car.
> Rally First is the logical next step for a Junior (under 17 yrs) rally competitor coming into senior level stage rallying. The existing Junior F1000 specification car is eligible for Rally First.

For its 68th year of ‘Serious Fun!’, the BTRDA Rally Series calendar encompasses eight of the best UK forest events and, in order to give competitors extra choice, everyone’s five best scores will count towards their final tally.

The 2021 BTRDA Rally Series calendar* (as at 19th February) is as follows :

    • 19th June     Kielder Forest Stages / Hexham
    • 10th July     Nicky Grist Stages  / Builth Wells
    • 24th July     Scottish Rally / Lockerbie
    • 14th August     Plains Rally / Mallwyd / Mid Wales
    • 4th September     Woodpecker Stages / Ludlow
    • 25th September     Trackrod Forest Stages / Filey
    • 30th October     Cambrian Rally / Llandudno
    • 13th November     Rallynuts Stages / Royal Welsh Showground

* Subject to Motorsport UK approval and any further restrictions imposed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As previously announced, all 2020 BTRDA Rally Series competitor registrations will be carried over into 2021 and BTRDA Membership will be held at £30.00 per person for a further year. Registrations for the 2021 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series will be available in early December via : www.btrdarally.com/competitors
For further details, contact Ian Arden – Tel : 07917 355169 / E-mail: [email protected]

The main image is of Tony Simpson and Ian Bevan (Fiesta R2) on the 2020 Malcolm Wilson Rally.

– ENDS –

2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series – Cancellation

2020 MRF TYRES BTRDA RALLY SERIES CANCELLED  

At a recent ‘virtual’ meeting of the BTRDA Rallies Committee – organisers of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series, the Motorsport UK 2020 English Rally Championship in association with Seacon and the MRF Tyres Mixed-Surface Challenge – the remainder of the 2020 season was the main topic of discussion. With all the uncertainty currently surrounding the viability of forest rallying in the immediate future due to the ongoing Covid 19 outbreak, it was unanimously decided that with great regret, in the best interests of everyone concerned, the 2020 season should be brought to a halt forthwith.  

BTRDA Rallies Committee Chair Neil Cross expressed his disappointment at the outcome. ‘We’d been leaving a decision on the rest of the season for as long as possible, but the odds were stacked against us and, in the end, we felt we were left with no other option than to cancel. I’m sorry for our registered competitors, sponsors and event organisers who, like us, had been hoping for some positive news but, rest assured, we’re already working on our plans for 2021, details of which will be announced in the coming weeks.’  

It has been confirmed that all the 2020 BTRDA Rally Series registered competitors will have their Championship registration fees carried forward into 2021, while BTRDA Membership fees are to be held at £30 for a further year.  

The photo above is Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson (Fiesta WRC) on their way to wining the 2020 Malcolm Wilson Rally which was the final forest rally in the UK before the Covid-19 lockdown.  They were leading the Gold Star Championship points table after the two rounds that were possible to run in 2020.