Author Archives: Howard Wilcock

THE GOLD STANDARD…!

2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series Preview:   As the BTRDA Rally Series enters its 67th year of ‘Serious Fun’, MRF Tyres join the party as they begin a three-year term as headline sponsors of the UK’s most popular Rally Championship. Current BTRDA Gold Star® Rally Champions, Scotsmen Euan Thorburn / Paul Beaton, have elected not to defend their title and hence we look to the opening round of the 2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series, the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally, for some clues as to who might possibly succeed them….
In the Blue (Oval!) corner there are Fiestas for 2016 Gold Star Champion Charlie Payne, who has reigning British Rally Champion Co-driver Patrick Walsh for company this year, 2017 Gold Star Champions Stephen Petch / Michael Wilkinson, plus more recent converts Sacha Kakad / James Aldridge, Irishmen Niall Henry / Damien Duffin and Taunton husband-and-wife Martyn & Dawn England. Meanwhile, choosing Skoda Fabia R5s for their tilt at the coveted crown are Ian Bainbridge / Dale Bowen, Dylan Davies / Llion Williams and Karl Simmons / Mark Glennerster and it won’t be until after Signing-On & Championship registration in Llandudno closes that we’ll know if anyone else has put their head above the parapet by joining them!  New for 2020 is the BTRDA R5 Cup and, hence, those with compliant cars can add it to their quest for overall and Class B14 honours!

<  Ian Bainbridge’s Skoda Fabia R5 on the Trackrod Forest Stages  (photo © Kevin Money)

Although not coming under the designation of ‘World Rally Cars’, there are a number of well driven – not to mention extremely quick! – four-wheel drive turbo-charged cars in Class B13 that can reasonably be expected to be there, or thereabouts. George Lepley and Tom Woodburn, [2019 Silver Star Champions] who appeared in a Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X towards the end of last season and managed to show all the WRC cars a clean pair of heels on the Woodpecker Stages, are returning for a crack at the Gold Star, as are the 2018 Motorsport UK English Rally Champions, Ian Joel / Graeme Wood, in their MRF Tyres supported Escort Cosworth. However, they must be prepared for a barrage of Mitsubishi Lancer EVOs, not least of which will be that of former BTRDA Production Cup winners Russ Thompson / Andy Murphy and current Welsh Stage Rally Champions Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear who took a couple of BTRDA class wins last season in their EVO9 but a string of retirements saw to it that their efforts would go unrewarded at the end of the season.

The Cambrian Rally also plays host to the inaugural MRF Mixed Surface Challenge – an eight round series featuring four on gravel and four on asphalt. Two of the above-mentioned Lancer EVOs, driven by Manxmen Stephen Ormond-Smith and Maxx Bradshaw, set out on the road which will take them, eventually, to their ‘home’ event, the Pokerstars Rally, in November. Pat Naylor / Ian Lawrence remain loyal to their FIA-homologated Group N Lancer, which has undergone a complete rebuild over the winter, as they eye up another Production Cup title. However, what could prove to be a rather large fly in their ointment is that the current holder, Scott Faulkner, has also indicated his intention to take another pop at top spot!   Fiesta ST Trophy cars also qualify for the Production Cup and on occasions, while only benefitting from two driven wheels, consistency over the course of a Championship has seen contenders taking podium finishes on events. Returnee Bobby Mitchell will be joined by some new faces, including those of Alex Hawkins, Callum Hughes and Jonny Sproat.

As far as the two-wheel drive MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star® Championship is concerned, with the winner in 2018 & 2019, George Lepley, transferring his allegiance to four-wheel drive (see above), there’s also going to be a different name on the trophy this time. Last year’s runner-up, Andy Davison (Talbot Sunbeam VXR), would dearly love it to be his, but there’ll be plenty of others with similar ambitions. In addition to the higher-powered cars, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that the top 1400s were making regular appearances on the Silver Star podium during last season!  Now entering its third year, the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup has struck a chord with competitors. Perry Gardener returns to defend his title but, with competitor numbers in double figures, he’ll no doubt have his work cut out to keep the marauding pack at bay! Having missed last season, teenager Ewan Tindall, who made quite an impression on his debut in 2018, rejoins in North Wales and will be looking to continue where he left off! Once again, whoever leads the R2 Cup after the Woodpecker Stages in September will have earned themselves a free entry on Wales Rally GB National Rally through its ‘Road to Wales’ scheme….  The winner of the Install Automation Ltd ‘Looking to the Future’ prize, Zak Hughes, is also at the wheel of a Fiesta R2. Having won the MRF Fiesta ST Trophy last year, the Welshpool driver will be using the £2500 to fund BTRDA Rally Series event entry fees for the current season.

Having relinquished the mantle of overall Rally Series title sponsor for 2020, Baz Jordan is maintaining his links with the BTRDA by putting up on-event prize money for successful JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup competitors. Indeed, Baz himself will be behind the wheel of his recently-completed Subaru Legacy which will be competing for honours in Class H4 where he’ll find Tom Coughtrie’s Mitsubishi Galant VR4 keeping him company.

Last year’s BTRDA Historic Cup runner-up, David Gathercole, pictured on the 2019 Trackrod Forest Stages, returns in his Escort Mk I while Ben Friend / Cliff Simmons’ Mk2 version scored a couple of excellent finishes in 2019 but, unfortunately, they were interspersed with a number of retirements which adversely affected their end-of-season position. Nevertheless, 5th overall and a class win on last November’s Wyedean Stages Rally should give them renewed confidence for the campaign ahead.

Having regained their rightful place running at the front of the field, the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA 1400 Championship contenders can always be relied upon to produce fireworks! 2019.  Motorsport UK English Rally Champion Steve Black and Paul Morris, who missed out on the Co-drivers’ title on a tie-break, return with their Suzuki Swift which finished all seven rounds of the 2019 Championship, in an attempt to add the 1400s to their respective CVs.  Chris Powell / Jim Lewis (Talbot Sunbeam), who were just ahead of Black & Morris last year, are also back for more, as are the Brick family – Dave and son Freddie will be out in a Vauxhall Nova and Corsa respectively. Dave’s 2019 season was curtailed early on but not before he’d taken runner-up spot, behind Powell, on the Cambrian Rally.

MRF Tyres have also put their name to the BTRDA Rally First® Championship for the new season – always targeted as an excellent way to enter (or even re-enter!) the sport, suitable vehicles require only minimal modifications to comply with the regulations. For example, Simon Double’s 2.0 litre MG ZR ticks all the boxes, as does the Ford Puma of the FIA’s WRC Category Manager – and former M-Sport Business Development Manager – Andrew Wheatley.

So, the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series once again makes a beeline for Llandudno, and the Cambrian Rally, to set the wheels in motion – literally!  As ever, each competitor’s five best scores, from the seven rounds, will count towards their final total and, in this way, holidays, work or non-availability on any given day need not detract from the completion of the requisite number of events. We know it starts here, but no-one yet knows how it’ll finish!…

AH/310120

Welcome to the 2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series

Serious Fun’ is our tag line and we have every expectation that 2020 will live up to that ethos.

The 2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series is open to all stage rally cars and includes a broad spread of categories and competition classes, so there is something for everyone.  The 2020 Regulations can be viewed via the Competitors section of this website.  The calendar includes 7 very popular one-day forest events with the final championship results based on your best 5 scores. We welcome the Scottish Rally to the Series for the first time. This event is celebrating its 75th year and promises to be a great addition to the calendar.

    • Visit Conwy CAMBRIAN RALLY    8th February    North Wales
    • MALCOLM WILSON RALLY    14th March    Lake District
    • RALLYNUTS STAGES RALLY    18th April    Mid Wales
    • The 75th SCOTTISH RALLY    6th June    Lockerbie/Scottish Borders
    • NICKY GRIST STAGES    11th July    Mid Wales
    • EVENTSIGNS WOODPECKER STAGES    5th September    Shropshire/Welsh Borders
    • TRACKROD FOREST STAGES    26th September    North Yorkshire

Competitors who have not yet registered for 2020 can do so now via the on-line BTRDA membership and registration system (see Competitor section) or print off a Registration Form and post it to Paul Price, the Membership Secretary. If all else fails, you can still register at the BTRDA desk on the Friday afternoon / early evening before the championship event.

The Registration Fee includes BTRDA club membership and registration for both the BTRDA Rally Series, the English Rally Championship and the MRF Mixed Surface Challenge. (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 2020 for their first year of registration.

CHAMPIONSHIP SPONSORS AND SUPPORTERS
We are pleased to confirm that all our sponsors from last year are continuing with us including JORDAN Road Surfacing who are supporting the BTRDA Historic Cup, Fuchs Lubricants who are supporting the BTRDA Bronze Star (1400) Championship and Revolution Wheels, Install Automation Ltd, Mintex, and REIS who will again be providing invaluable support for the championship and its competitors.
Our new title sponsor for the BTRDA Rally Series is MRF TYRES through our old friend Jerry Freeman of Service & Sport. Jerry said “we are thrilled MRF are to be sponsoring the BTRDA Rally Series for the next three years and we hope to help the championship
prosper and innovate.” Contact Jerry on 07789 392080 or 01942 218498 or via email jfreeman@serviceandsport.com for exciting deals exclusive to our championship contenders.
We are grateful to all our sponsors and we look forward to working with them during the forthcoming year.

New for 2020 is the MRF Mixed-Surface Rally Challenge. It is open to vehicles that comply with the Motorsport UK Safety and Technical Regulations for Special Stage Rallies.  All MRF Mixed-Surface Challenge cars must use MRF branded tyres on every event, but the tread pattern and profile are free. See MRF Motorsport Tyres in UK at Service & Sport  Tel 07789 392080 or 01942 218498 or e-mail Jerry@Serviceandsport.com 

The MRF Mixed-Surface Challenge includes a selection of the best UK forest and asphalt stage rallies. The final points tables will be based on a competitor’s best 6 scores.

        •  CAMBRIAN RALLY (G)    8th February    North Wales
        •  MALCOLM WILSON RALLY (G)    14th March    Lake District
        •  TENDRING & CLACTON RALLY (A)    25th/26th April    East Anglia
        •  The  75th SCOTTISH RALLY (G)    6th June    Lockerbie/Scottish Borders
        •  NICKY GRIST STAGES (G)    11th July    Mid Wales
        •  MEWLA RALLY (A)    30th August Epynt,    Mid Wales
        •  POKERSTARS RALLY LEG 1 (A)    2nd October    Isle of Man
        •  POKERSTARS RALLY LEG 2 (A)    3rd October    Isle of Man

There are 7 competition classes and the scoring system will reflect achievement against other registered competitors in the same vehicle class and the level of championship competition in that class. (see Regulations in the Competitor section of this site for more details) The ST Trophy will follow the MRF Tyres Mixed Surface Challenge in 2020.

DECALS – FIRST ISSUE AND REPLACEMENT
Championship decals will be posted out to all drivers who are registered for 2020, up to the 31st January so you should receive them in time to put them on before the first event.  These decals (1 x screen strip and 2 x sponsor panels- 375mm x 265mm; one for each side of the car) must be displayed on the rally car to qualify for Championship points. Those not registered by 31st January can collect them from the BTRDA Signing-On desk of your first event in the BTRDA series. Replacement decals are available, but a small charge may be made to cover admin costs.
ON EVENT FUEL / RE-FUEL
Vital Equipment will be at all events in the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series. We strongly emphasise the convenience, safety and organisational benefits that using the Vital Equipment re-fuel facility provides for all competitors. To order your fuel please use the on-line order facility. www.vitalequipment.co.uk/pages/btrda-rally-series-fuel-order-form   or Tel: 01981 241169.

Main photo is 2019 BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup winners Perry Gardener / Keaton Williams who also won a free entry in the Wales Rally GB National Rally thanks to the Road to Wales initiative.

Boost for the BTRDA Historic Cup

The BTRDA is very pleased to confirm that JORDAN Road Surfacing will continue their support for the BTRDA Historic Cup in 2020.
On each round of the BTRDA Rally Series there will be a prize fund of £500 with the highest placed BTRDA Historic Cup driver receiving £250, the 2nd placed driver £150 and the 3rd £100. At the end of the year the overall BTRDA Historic Champion will be presented with the prestigious AC de Monaco Trophy at the BTRDA awards ceremony.

BTRDA Rally Committee Chairman, Neil Cross said “These are great prizes for the successful Historic Cup competitors to win on each of our 2020 events. We hope that these incentives will encourage the clubman Historic competitors to come and compete on the BTRDA Rally Series events and enjoy the classic forest stages around the country.”

These prizes for BTRDA Historic Cup competitors add to the BTRDA Rally Series incentives already announced which include : –

Revolution Competition Wheels – End of year prize of 4 Revolution Competition Wheels for the leading drivers in Gold Star, Silver Star, Fuchs Lubricants Bronze Star, Rallye R2 Cup, Historic Cup and Production Cup.  [total 24 wheels]

The Install Automation Ltd Junior Drivers award has been donated by Adam Kent, the 1998 BTRDA Gold Star Rally Champion. It provides a £2,500 prize fund for a leading BTRDA Junior Driver* to be used for entries to events in the 2021 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 in the 2020 BTRDA Junior Championship.

Road to Wales – A free entry to Wales Rally GB National Rally (approx £1,000) for the winner of the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup.

Registration for the 2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series, the Motorsport UK 2020 English Rally Championship supported by SEACON UK, and the MRF Tyres Mixed Surface Challenge (one registration covers all) can be completed on-line [see Competitors page] or by post to the BTRDA Membership Secretary. Competitors are encouraged to register a.s.a.p. so that we can post out the championship decals before the first round of the Series. Competitor registration and BTRDA membership is free to new members under 25 for their first year with BTRDA.

2020 BTRDA Rally Series Regulations and Registration forms are also available at the Autosport Show from the main MRF Tyres stand (No 1250) from 9th – 12th January.

Entries for the 2020 Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally have started to arrive, and the organisers have confirmed that all the forest stages have been regraded / reinstated by Rally4Wales and are in excellent condition. This combined a compact road route and the Service Area in the heart of Llandudno Town makes this a excellent event for the start the 2020 BTRDA Rally Series.

The main photo is 2019 BTRDA Historic Cup winners George Lepley / Tom Woodburn (Avenger BRM) on the 2019 Plains Rally

Registrations open for the 67th year of SERIOUS FUN…!

The BTRDA are pleased to announce the 2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series and confirm that the 2020 championship registration is now open.
The 2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series encompasses the 67th BTRDA Gold Star® and Silver Star® Rally Championships, plus the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star (1400’s) and the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally First Championships and includes the JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup, BTRDA Production Cup, BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup and BTRDA Rallye R5 Cup.
The BTRDA Rally Series is the most popular stage rally championship in the UK and will continue to provide competitors and followers with some Serious Fun! The calendar includes seven one-day forest stage rallies, starting with the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally in February and finishing with the Trackrod Forest Stages in North Yorkshire at the end of September. The final points tables will be based on a competitor’s best 5 scores, which provides some flexibility to fit in the events around family or business commitments or even to recover from unexpected car problem.

The 2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series (Best 5 scores to count)
• Saturday 8th February    Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally    (Llandudno)
• Saturday 14th March    Malcolm Wilson Rally    (Cockermouth)
• Saturday 18th April    Rallynuts Stages Rally    (Builth Wells)
• Saturday 6th June    75th Scottish Rally    (Lockerbie)
• Saturday 11th July    Nicky Grist Stages    (Builth Wells)
• Saturday 5th August    Woodpecker Stages    (Ludlow)
• Saturday 26th September    Trackrod Forest Stages    (Filey)
We are grateful for the wholehearted commitment of the event organising teams, because without their efforts we could not promote such a successful rally championship. Regulations and entries for the Cambrian Rally, the opening round of the 2020 BTRDA Rally Series, are now available at www.cambrianrally.com

The MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series is open to all stage rally cars and includes a broad spread of categories and competition classes, so there is something for everyone. The 2020 Regulations are published in the Competitors section of this website, along with a link to the on-line BTRDA membership and BTRDA Rally Series & Motorsport UK English Rally Championship registration. For those who prefer to register by post, there is a copy of the Registration Form that can be downloaded.  

Please note that the Registration Fee includes BTRDA club membership and registration for the BTRDA Rally Series, Motorsport UK English Rally Championship and the new MRF Mixed Surface ChallengeThere is a £10 discount if both members of the crew register together.  (BTRDA membership gives automatic eligibility to all events in the BTRDA Rally Series, English Rally Championship and MRF Mixed Surface Challenge). 

BTRDA membership and Rally Championship registration is FREE to new BTRDA members under the age of 25 on 1st Jan 2020, for their first year of registrationChampionship decals will be posted out at the end of January to drivers who have registered for the 2020 Championships. 

The BTRDA VISION for 2020..!

The 2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series – the 67th consecutive year of ‘Serious Fun’! – moves into the new decade maintaining not only its position as the UK’s most popular rally Championship but also its welcome for any vehicle complying with current Motorsport UK Technical Regulations, and with a class structure designed to cater for everyone.
The coveted MRF Tyres BTRDA Gold Star® Championship (Overall), MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star® Championship (Two-Wheel Drive) and the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA 1400 Championship (for which the overall winners will receive BTRDA Bronze Stars) return, to be joined for the first time by the BTRDA Rallye R5 Cup. As the name suggests, this will be open to any FIA-homologated R5 cars, such as Ian Bainbridge’s Skoda Fabia (illustrated above) which, as before, will also be in line for Class B14 honours.

The BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup, introduced in 2018, has proved a welcome addition to the line-up, with 16 drivers scoring points last season. Thus far, Ford Fiestas have held sway with George Lepley and Perry Gardener carrying off the spoils but, with eligible cars also available from Peugeot, Citroen, Opel, Renault and Skoda, the Blue Oval’s future domination is far from guaranteed!
Meanwhile, the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally First® Championship will now include a class for up to 1.0 litre engined cars, such as the Nissan Micra that new Toyota WRC recruit Elfyn Evans drove back in 2006!… It’s an ideal entry-level category and ‘next step’ for the F1000 Juniors.   ( Elfyn on the Wyedean  © SC Photography )

Turning to the calendar, seven of the best UK forest events are featured and each competitor’s five best scores will count towards their final tally. For the first time for a number of years, the BTRDA Series ventures north of the border in 2020 to celebrate the 75th running of the iconic Scottish Rally.  The full programme is :
   8th February    Cambrian Rally / Llandudno
   14th March    Malcolm Wilson Rally / Cockermouth
   18th April    Rallynuts Stages / Royal Welsh Showground
   6th June    75th Scottish Rally / Lockerbie
   11th July   Nicky Grist Stages / Builth Wells
   5th September    Woodpecker Stages / Ludlow
   26th September    Trackrod Forest Stages / Filey

Registration for the 2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series will be available in early December via the Competitors section of this website   www.btrdarally.com/competitors