Author Archives: Howard Wilcock

MANY HAPPY RETURNS!…

With just a month to go before the opening round of both the 2024 Protyre BTRDA Rally Series and the Reis Motorsport Insurance MSUK English Rally Championship, the Malcolm Wilson Rally (8th / 9th March), competitors’ intentions are becoming clearer and the entry list, which already extends to more than 90, contains a number of former BTRDA Series and English Rally Champions who are returning to the scene of their former glory as they attempt to extend their run of success.
In 2023 Elliot Payne (Fiesta Rally2) became the first person to take back-to-back BTRDA Gold Star® Championship titles for nearly 30 years (before he was born!) and has now set his sights on a third. Should he succeed, Elliot would be the first-ever triple Gold Star winner since its inception 71 years ago!  Matthew Robinson won the Silver Star Championship three consecutive times (2012-14) but such a feat is yet to be emulated in either the Gold or Bronze Star Championships.
The featured image sees Elliot Payne (Fiesta Rally2) clinching the 2023 Gold Star title on the Trackrod Forest Rally

Whatever happens, Elliot – who is reunited with Patrick Walsh, his 2022 Championship winning co-driver – will not have things all his own way as, among others, proven BTRDA Rally Series event winners (and rivals) Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear (Fiesta R5) and Cambrian Rally victors at the end of last season, Russ Thompson / Steve Link (Lancer EVO9), will be there with the express intention of giving him a hard time!  After a year out, Perry Gardener / Jack Bowen (Fiesta R5), who claimed 2nd overall on their local Woodpecker Stages in 2022, are also back for more. Likewise BTRDA Rally stalwarts Patrick Naylor and Ian Lawrence return in their Mistubishi Evo 9.

.Perry Gardener & Jack Bowen on the Woodpecker Stages  >>>

Due to family commitments, current BTRDA Silver Star® Champion Ben Friend is planning a limited campaign this year, but 2022 winners Rob Wright / Mark Fisher (Escort Mk2) have entered their ‘home’ event and will be pitting their skills against the likes of Andy Davison / Tom Murphy (the 2019 Silver Star Champion Co-driver) in their Sunbeam VXR and 2022 Motorsport UK English Rally Champion Nick Dobson (Escort Mk2).

 

<<<<      Rob Wright/Mark Fisher (Escort Mk2) – 2022 BTRDA Silver Star Champions

In winning the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star® Championship last year, Nigel & Kaz Jenkins (Nova) set themselves a very high bar with a ‘full-house’ of six maximum scores. Impossible to beat but, nevertheless, the husband-and-wife team are back to defend their title. Among those who’ll have other ideas on the subject is Steve Black who claimed the 2021 Championship at the wheel of his Suzuki Swift, while Dylan Fowler-Bishop (Micra) showed everyone else in the category a clean pair of heels on last year’s Woodpecker Stages Rally.

 

Photos courtsey of Kevin Money & Malcolm Almond

PROTYRE ADDS BTRDA RALLY SERIES TO ITS PORTFOLIO…

Having been title sponsor of the BTRDA-permitted MSUK Asphalt Rally Championship since 2018, Protyre is confirmed as taking on a similar role with the forestry-based BTRDA Rally Series. The arrangement is currently for two years with scope for an extension at the conclusion of the initial period.
PROTYRE is the UK’s fastest growing chain of fast-fit and mechanical centres. Supplying a complete range of tyres for all makes and models of cars, vans, 4x4s and motorcycles, Protyre also offer MOTs, mechanical repairs and servicing. Protyre’s Motorsport Division provides tyres and tyre-fitting services for a number of races and rallies.

‘The BTRDA Rallies Committee is delighted to welcome Protyre as its title sponsor for the 2024 BTRDA Rally Series’, said Committee Chair Neil Cross, ‘and looks forward to working with them to bring you some of the best gravel rallying in the UK. Their support ensures that we can continue our hugely popular live streaming of all rounds of the Championship’.

The featured image is Callum Black (Fiesta Rally2) – the 2023 Protyre MSUK Asphalt Rally Champion & regular BTRDA Rally Series Competitor.  Here winning the Woodpecker in 2022.

The 2024 PROTYRE BTRDA Rally Series calendar includes eight of the finest UK gravel events, (best 6 scores to count) details of which are outlined below : –

  • MALCOLM WILSON RALLY      8th/9th MARCH      Cockermouth / Lake District
  • RALLYNUTS SEVERN VALLEY STAGES      13th APRIL      Llandindrod Wells / Mid Wales
  • BORDER COUNTIES RALLY      11th MAY      Jedburgh / Tweed Valley
  • KIELDER FOREST RALLY      15th JUNE      Hexham / Northumberland
  • NICKY GRIST STAGES      13th JULY      Builth Wells / Mid Wales
  • WOODPECKER STAGES      7th SEPTEMBER      Newtown / Powys
  • TRACKROD FOREST STAGES      28th SEPTEMBER      Filey / Yorkshire Forests
  • Visit Conwy CAMBRIAN RALLY      26th OCTOBER      Llandudno / North Wales

The regulaions for both the PROTYRE BTRDA Rally Series and the Reis Motorsport Insurance MSUK English Rally Championship have now been published in the Competitor sections of the respective websites and on-line Championship registrations are now open for 2024. (see below)

The 2024 PROTYRE BTRDA Rally Series will continue to include competion classes to suit all types of stage rally car.   The classses are: –

  • Class RF1.4 BTRDA Rally First cars up to 1400cc or with forced induction up to 1,000cc.
  • Class RF2.0 BTRDA Rally First cars over 1400cc up to 2000cc or forced induction up to 1300cc.
  • Class 1400S All cars up to 1400cc not eligible for Class 1400C or Class RF1.4.
  • Class 1400C Cars up to 1400cc with: –   [a] 8 valve engines, [b] Engines with more than 8 valves that retain the standard fuel and inlet manifold systems, [c] Engines up to 1000cc not eligible for Class RF1.4.    Remote reservoir suspension and sequential gearboxes are not permitted unless fitted as standard or homologated.
  • Class R2 Current and former FIA R2(B) cars (but not FIA spec Rally4 cars)
  • Class B10 Cars over 1400cc up to 1600cc plus current & former FIA Group N3 cars and ST Trophy cars.
  • Class B11 Over 1600cc up to 2000cc or with forced induction engines up to 1300cc plus any FIA Rally4 cars
  • Class B12 Over 2000cc two-wheel drive, including all FIA R3T cars.
  • Class B13 Over 2000cc four-wheel drive cars not eligible for Class B14 including FIA Rally3 cars.
  • Class B14 Current and former FIA Rally2, R5 and S2000 specification cars and any derivatives therefrom, plus World Rally cars with a sequential gearbox.
    All forced induction engines are subject to an additional capacity coefficient of 1.7 to 1, except as set out in Classes RF1.0, RF2.0 and Class B11 or where FIA Appendix J, Art 260 applies.
  • Reis Motorsport Insurance BTRDA HISTORIC CUP
    The BTRDA Historic Cup is open to all Historic Category 1, 2, 3 & 4 rally cars that comply with the eligibility requirements set out in R49 of the Motorsport UK Yearbook. The overall Reis Motorsport Insurance BTRDA Historic Champion will be presented with the prestigious AC de Monaco Trophy at the end-of-year BTRDA awards ceremony.
    The Historic Cup will be split into 2 classes: –
    Class H1/2 Historic Category 1 and 2 cars, Category 3 cars with single cam engines and Category 4a up to 1600cc.
    Class H3/4 Historic Category 3 cars with multi cam engines plus Category 4a cars over 1600cc and all Category 4b cars which comply with R49.1.5

On-line Registration:  BTRDA annual membership is £30 which gives automatic eligibility to all BTRDA Rally Series and English Rally Championship events. The PROTYRE BTRDA Rally Series registration fee also includes registration for the Reis Motorsport Insurance MSUK 2024 English Rally Championship and is £50 for Drivers and £20 for Co-drivers,

BTRDA membership and Rally Championship registration is again FREE to new BTRDA members under the age of 25 on 1st Jan 2024 for their first year of registration.

Log in to the membership website www.btrdamembership.com  If you have forgotten any of your login details, just follow the on-screen instructions. If you have not been a member before you will need to register a new account.  In all cases the first part of the process is to join BTRDA (British Trial & Rally Driver Association) and then register for the ‘forest rally championship’.

The Malcolm Wilson Rally (8th / 9th March) is the opening round of both championship, and at the time of writing over 60 entries have been recieved by the organisers, which is a very encouraging start.

Photos courtesy of Kevin Money / Malcolm Almond.

AH/200124

EVEN MORE FUN AT 71!…

Having celebrated the 70th Anniversary of its coveted BTRDA Gold Star® and Silver Star® Rally Championships in fine style this year while, at the same time, maintaining its ethos of ‘Serious Fun’, the BTRDA is pleased to announce the calendar for the 2024 Rally Series.

Retaining the format that has found favour with so many competitors, eight of the finest one-day gravel events the UK has to offer are included and, with everyone’s best six scores to count, the element of choice – so important in these busy times! – continues.

<<<<  Russ Thompson / Stephen LInk.  Winners for Class B13 and with 100% finish on all events in 2023.

Featured image is Liam Clark in a R2 Fiesta on the Nicky Grist Stages.

Spread over almost eight months, the season begins in early March with the traditional high-speed run through the forests of the Lake District, courtesy of the Malcolm Wilson Rally, prior to the first of three visits to Wales for the Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2024. Winner of the Bill Turner Trophy for the ‘Best Event’ in 2022, the Border Counties Rally then precedes the Kielder Forest Rally which heralds the halfway point of the year.

Following the Nicky Grist Stages in mid-July, a two-month break gives everyone the chance to regroup prior to what often proves to be a hectic run to the finish as Cups,
Categories & Classes are fought over! The Woodpecker and Trackrod Forest Stages are at the beginning and end of September, respectively, before Llandudno hosts the grand finale, the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally, over the last weekend of October.

So, the full 2024 BTRDA Rally Series calendar (best 6 scores to count) is as follows :

  • MALCOLM WILSON RALLY      8th/9th MARCH      Cockermouth / Lake District
  • RALLYNUTS SEVERN VALLEY STAGES      13th APRIL      Llandindrod Wells / Mid Wales
  • BORDER COUNTIES RALLY      11th MAY      Jedburgh / Tweed Valley
  • KIELDER FOREST RALLY      15th JUNE      Hexham / Northumberland
  • NICKY GRIST STAGES      13th JULY      Builth Wells / Mid Wales
  • WOODPECKER STAGES      7th SEPTEMBER      Ludlow / Shropshire
  • TRACKROD FOREST STAGES      28th SEPTEMBER      Filey / Yorkshire Forests
  • Visit Conwy CAMBRIAN RALLY      26th OCTOBER      Llandudno / North Wales

                                                                                                       Dylan Fowler-BishopDan Evans  Class 1400C Micra >>>>

More information about the 2024 BTRDA Gold Star, Silver Star and Bronze Star Championships and the various categories and classes will be published at the end of the year.

HI-HO, SILVER!…

Preview of Round 8: the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally (28th October)  .With the winners of both the 2023 MRF Tyres BTRDA Gold Star® and Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Rally Championships already known – albeit with some possible adjustments to the other podium places – all eyes now turn to the two-wheel drive BTRDA Silver Star® Championship on the final round of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series, the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally on 28th October.

Arriving in North Wales as Silver Star leaders, Boyd Kershaw and Keegan Rees (Escort Mk2) ….the featured image above… already have six scores to their credit and thus, no matter how well they perform, can only improve on their lowest result to date. Meanwhile, following a problematic midseason with their own Historic spec. Mk 2 Escort, Ben Friend / Cliff Simmons tackle the finale with a score in hand over their rivals and, having already accrued three maximums, really only need to finish the Cambrian to claim the title. Simple? Yeah – right!…

<<<<  Ben Friend & Cliff Simmons

Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup leaders Ernie & Karen Graham (Escort RS1600) could move into the Silver Star Top Three with another good run, as might Robert Proudlock / Steven Brown who are not only upholding front-wheel drive honours at the sharp end of the points table in their Opel Adam, but also currently hold sway in both the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup & the R2 Junior Cup – however, Liam Clark’s R2 Fiesta is uncomfortably close in the battle for both, such that victory could go either way…

In addition to fighting for overall Silver Star honours, Ben Friend & Cliff Simmons (above) are also in a position to unseat Ernie & Karen Graham from their lead of the BTRDA Historic Cup – but, whatever happens, that’ll be a close-run thing!

While Elliot Payne and Tom Woodburn (Fiesta Rally2) and Arron Newby and Jamie Edwards (Fabia R5) are confirmed as 2023 BTRDA Gold Star® Champions and runners-up respectively, 3rd place is still to be resolved. Class B13 Champions Russ Thompson / Steve Link (Lancer EVO9) are the present incumbents but Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear, who won last year’s Cambrian Rally outright in their Fiesta R5, are another crew with only five scores so far and, as such, are able to add every point they earn in North Wales to their final tally. Calculators at the ready, then!….

.                                                   Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear (Fiesta R5) – the 2022 Cambrian Rally Winners >>>>>>

Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star® Champions Nigel & Kaz Jenkins will be eyeing the Cambrian as an opportunity to end the season with a ‘full-house’ – their Nova has already scored five maximums and one 2nd, such that another ‘win’ in North Wales would give them a perfect 180 points! Lewis Hooper / Rhys Edwards (Micra), who beat them into 2nd place on the Rallynuts Stages in April, will be present, as will Dylan Fowler-Bishop / Dan Evans (Micra) who showed everyone else in the category a clean pair of heels on their last appearance on the Woodpecker Stages.

As far as the Top Three in the Championship is concerned, Hooper and the Greenalls, Chris & James (Nova), are currently equal on points in 2nd & 3rd places. Both already have six scores and, so, will be reliant on improving on their lowest in order to maintain station – or, in the Greenalls’ case, possibly moving up a place….

<<<<<<<<  Chris & James Greenall (Nova)

Lewis Hooper (Micra) also features in what is now a two-horse race for the MRF Motorsport Tyres Trophy which will earn the eventual winner some tyres (MRF, obviously!) and free entries for use on a number of events in the 2024 BTRDA Rally Series. Colin Minton (Fiesta R5) had been leading but an uncharacteristic retirement last time out on the Trackrod Forest Stages brought a run of five straight maximums to an end and allowed Hooper to move ahead by a single point.

The first car leaves the start of the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally on Llandudno Promenade at 08.01 on 28th October and is due to return at 16.30, by which time the answers to all the situations discussed above will become clear!

SPECTATORS : Details are available at : https://cambrianrally.co.uk/spectators

Photos courtesy of Kevin Money & Malcolm Almond.

PLACES, EVERYONE!..

Preview of Round 7: the Trackrod Forest Stages (23rd September) .
Moving swiftly on from Ludlow and the Woodpecker Stages, the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series heads north to Filey on 23rd September for its penultimate round, the Trackrod Forest Stages. In terms of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Gold Star® Rally Championship, Arron Newby / Jamie Edwards (Fabia R5) took victory last time out but defending champion Elliot Payne and co-driver Tom Woodburn (Fiesta Rally2) – runners-up in the Marches – still hold the upper hand, albeit by a reduced margin.

• The featured image is Arron Newby and Jamie Edwards (Fabia R5) – the winners of the 2023 Woodpecker Stages Rally

2022 Trackrod winners David Henderson / Chris Lees (Fiesta Rally2) are back and, quite rightly, take the No.1 spot. Then Payne and Newby start either side of Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear for whom the Woodpecker was an unmitigated disaster after their Fiesta R5’s engine failed at Scrutineering, forcing them to withdraw their entry. Onwards and upwards, men!…

Newly-crowned Class B13 champions Russ Thompson and Steve Link (Lancer EVO9) leave the start one minute in front of Rob Wilson / Richard Crozier whose EVO7 finished marginally ahead of them on the Woodpecker to claim the final podium spot. Then, carrying on where they left off last time out, Al Ginley / Craig Thorley (Fiesta Rally2) and Ian Bainbridge / Will Atkins (VW Polo) set off line astern. Colin Minton / Bonnie Papper (Fiesta R5) will be looking to maintain their 100% finishing record and, if successful, should get their hands on the MRF Tyres Motorsport Trophy, the prize for which includes a number of free entries and sets of tyres for use in the 2024 BTRDA Rally Series.

Meanwhile, the MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star® Championship was turned on its head on the Woodpecker, with the top two crews prior to the start – Boyd Kershaw / Keegan Rees and Robert Gough / Paul Morris (Escort Mk2’s) – both failing to finish. Kershaw / Rees have hung on to a reduced lead but Gough has been deposed by Andy Davison whose Sunbeam VXR now occupies 2nd place. Keeping their heads while all around etc. etc., early-season leaders Ben Friend and Cliff Simmons returned to their winning ways by guiding their Escort to top spot, a handful of seconds in front of the Opel Adam of Robert Proudlock / Steven Brown.

<<<<<    Ben Friend / Cliff Simmons (Escort Mk2) – Silver Star winners on the Woodpecker Stages

Gough / Morris’ DNF, allied to an excellent run by Ernie & Karen Graham (Escort RS1600) at the beginning of the month has seen them move into the lead of the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup at this stage. Nevertheless, the Escorts of Gough, Steve Ward / Phil Sandham and Ben Friend / Cliff Simmons are all still in with a chance of altering the look of the leaderboard between now and the end of the season.

Proudlock / Brown’s Adam holds sway in both the BTRDA Rallye R2 & R2 Junior Cups but Liam Clark (Fiesta), in spite of retiring on the Woodpecker, is far too close for comfort!

Robert Proudlock / Steven Brown (Opel Adam) – BTRDA Rallye R2 & R2 Junior Cup Leaders  >>>>>

 

In so many different sports the result that puts you over the winning line is often the most difficult to obtain! Nigel & Kaz Jenkins have taken their Nova to four maximums and one second-place in the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Championship, such that a good run on the Woodpecker would have clinched the 2023 title for them. However, that well-known rallying phrase ‘to finish first, you must first finish’ will be ringing loudly in the husband-and-wife team’s ears after their hitherto reliable Nova’s engine let go on SS2… On the plus side, they still lead the charge and have two more opportunities, starting with the Trackrod, to put the matter to bed once and for all…

Last year’s MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally First Cup winner Lewis Hooper (Micra) arrives in North Yorkshire ahead of Luke Watts (MG ZR), Dylan Fowler-Bishop (Micra), Chris Greenall (Nova), Ashley Francis-Adams (Micra) and Chris Bush (Corsa) but, on paper at least, all of them could still win the race to succeed Pete Gorst as the 2023 Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Champion!…

<<<<<     Dylan Fowler-Bishop/Dan Evans (Micra) – Woodpecker Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Winners

In similar fashion to the BTRDA Gold Star Championship, Arron Newby’s Woodpecker victory has also closed the gap on Elliot Payne’s grip on the Motorsport UK English Rally Championship, in association with Seacon UK, which still has three rounds remaining. Ernie Graham (Escort RS1600) and Rob Wilson (Lancer EVO7) also scored maximums but, with 75 points still on offer, such is the competitiveness of the championship that the table tells us that, theoretically, any one of the first couple of dozen drivers could succeed Nick Dobson to the title!…

SPECTATORS : Tickets for the spectator stages in Cropton and Dalby are available online at https://www.rallyyorkshire.co.uk/spectator-information/

 

All photos © Kevin Money & Malcolm Almond

Further information on the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series : www.btrdarally.com  &  Motorsport UK English Rally Championship : www.englishrally.co.uk