Author Archives: Howard Wilcock

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

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE – a valuable prize…!

The BTRDA Rally Committee are very pleased to announce that the 2019 Install Automation Ltd ‘Looking to the Future’ prize has been awarded to Zak Hughes who was the winner of the MRF Tyres ST Trophy in 2019.  This valuable prize which has been donated by Adam Kent the 1998 BTRDA Gold Star Champion, will provide a £2,500 fund to be used for event entry fees in the 2020 MRF TYres BTRDA Rally Series. The prize will be presented to Zak at the 2019 Awards Evening which takes place on Saturday 11th January 2020.   (Details to follow soon).

This valuable prize will continue on the BTRDA Rally Series in 2020 courtesy of Install Automation Ltd and will be awarded to another BTRDA Junior driver.

The 2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series calendar has received Motorsport UK approval and is as published in the earlier News Item HERE      2020 registrations will open on 1st December.

The image in Zak Hughes / Tom Wood on the Plains Rally   (Courtesy of Malc Almond)

Congratulations to the 2019 BTRDA Award Winners

The Trackrod Forest Stages in North Yorkshire rounded off another very successful BTRDA Rally Series sponsored by JORDAN Road Surfacing. The final 2019 BTRDA Rally Series points scores can be found HERE

Congratulations to all the 2019 BTRDA Rally Champions.   Euan Thorburn and Paul Beaton are the 66th BTRDA Gold Star Champions in a hugely successful year when they dominated both the BTRDA Rally Series and the Scottish Rally Championship. George Lepley is the BTRDA Silver Star Champion Driver for the second year and Tom Murphy is the Silver Star Co-Driver Champion. In addition to the Silver Star title George has also won the BTRDA Historic Cup and the BTRDA Junior Driver. The BTRDA Bronze Star (1400) Championship titles in 2019 have been won by Callum Black and Michael Gilbey, whilst Joseph Keen is the BTRDA Rally First Champion driver and Mark Townson is the Rally First winning co-driver.

A list of all the 2019 JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series Award Winners can be found HERE   There are also some ‘Special Achievement Awards’ on the list to be presented by the BTRDA, but the winners of these trophies will not be announced until the Awards Evening. A list of all the award winners in the MAXXIS Motorsport UK 2019 English Rally Championship will be published after the final round which is the Wyedean Stages Rally on Saturday 9th November.

The awards for the 2019 JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series and the MAXXIS Motorsport UK 2019 English Rally Championship will be presented at the 2019 Dinner and Awards Ceremony which takes place on Saturday 11th January 2020 in the function suite at the Drayton Manor Hotel near Tamworth, B78 3SA. This date also coincides with the 2020 Autosport Show at the NEC so competitors would be able to combine the two events if they wish to do so.  Ticket Application forms for the Awards Evening and Dinner [ £45 ] and details of the preferential room rates [ £60 ] available for BTRDA guests at the at the Drayton Manor Hotel will be published shortly.

The 2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series calendar has received Motorsport UK approval and is as published in the earlier News Item HERE       2020 registrations will open on 1st December.

Main photo is Euan Thorburn / Paul Beaton on the Plains Rally.   (courtesy of Kevin Money)

ALL CHANGE for 2020 – BUT SERIOUS FUN GUARANTEED…!

The British Trial & Rally Drivers’ Association (BTRDA), promoters of the BTRDA Rally Series and the Motorsport UK English Rally Championship, is delighted to announce that both will benefit from new headline sponsors in 2020.

The 2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series heralds the first of a three-year deal which begins with the Llandudno-based Cambrian Rally on 8th February.
Jerry Freeman of Service & Sport, the UK distributors of MRF Tyres, commented “MRF are excited and very proud to be associated with the BTRDA, we see it as a big step forward in our development in Europe. There’s no doubt that the BTRDA is the most popular Rally Series in the UK and is home from home and where I started competing. All of us in MRF are really looking forward to working with the BTRDA over the next few years.” 

Seven of the UK’s top National ‘B’ forest stage rallies are included in the calendar which concludes on the North York Moors with the Trackrod Forest Stages at the end of September. New for 2020 will be the 75th running of the Scottish Rally, based at Lockerbie just off the M74. The final points table will be based on a competitor’s best 5 scores, which provides some flexibility to fit around family or business commitments.
2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series calendar* (subject to final Motorsport UK confirmation)

• Cambrian Rally                8th February
• Malcolm Wilson Rally      14th March
• Rallynuts Stages Rally    18th April
• The 75th Scottish Rally    6th June
• Nicky Grist Stages           11th July
• Woodpecker Stages        5th September
• Trackrod Forest Stages   26th September

The MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series will continue to be open to all stage rally cars and will include a broad spread of categories and competition classes so there is something for everyone. In addition to the Gold Star, Silver Star and Bronze Star (1400) championships, the 2020 BTRDA Rally Series will include BTRDA Rally First, BTRDA Historic Cup, Production Cup, Rallye R2 Cup and Fiesta ST Trophy.
Meanwhile, regular BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup Competitor and long-term supporter of the BTRDA, Tony Simpson, will be sponsoring the Motorsport UK 2020 English Rally Championship through his International Freight Forwarding company Seacon UK Ltd. The Seacon UK Motorsport UK 2020 English Rally Championship will consist of six gravel events and begins in Cumbria with the Malcolm Wilson Rally on 14th March.

Further information about both Championships will be announced in the next few weeks.

JUST A SECOND….!

The Trackrod Forest Stages brings this year’s JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series® to a close and such has been the quality of the competition during the season that the coveted BTRDA Gold, Silver & Bronze Stars® have already been claimed. However, in addition to various other elements of the Series that are ongoing, a number of 2nd & 3rd places in each category have still to be won and lost. Hence, the classic special stages on the North York Moors will bear witness to plenty of high-speed action on 28th September!  Having secured the JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Silver Star® Rally Championship title back in July, George Lepley’s efforts had also put him in a favourable position to take a podium finish in the Gold Star Championship. Forsaking Baz Jordan’s Hillman Avenger for a Mitsubishi Lancer EVOX for the recent Woodpecker Stages, the Newark driver came away from the penultimate round of the season with a maximum points score under his belt. With dropped scores active, George can now only improve on his lowest-to-date but, on recent form, no-one should bet against him!

On the other hand, Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson (Fiesta WRC) have already suffered two DNFs and are, therefore, able to count their full score on the Trackrod towards their final total. Nevertheless, the pressure is on and the 2017 Gold Star Champions must produce a good result to stand any chance of featuring in the Top Three. After much of a season to forget, Ian Bainbridge’s 4th overall on the Woodpecker Stages in his first appearance in a Skoda Fabia R5 would seem to herald a change in fortunes – let’s hope the momentum is continued on to the North York Moors!

In spite of a campaign that hasn’t turned out as they could reasonably have expected, outgoing Class B13 Champions Ian Joel/Graeme Wood (Escort Cosworth), who finished 5th overall on last year’s Trackrod, are persevering and will be doing their best to stay out of the way of the battle to succeed them. This particular scenario features Richard Sykes/Simon Taylor (Lancer EVO9) and the Impreza of Richard Hill/Steffan Evans, who start the event on equal points, in starring roles. Another Lancer, in the hands of Petr Krizan/Lukas Sintal, currently occupies 3rd in class and, of course, we mustn’t forget that George Lepley will also be chasing B13 points!…

In the race for the BTRDA Production Cup®, title contenders Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence leave the start a minute in front of Scott Faulkner/Gareth Parry in their respective Lancers. Both crews already have five scores and, in this instance, it’s quite simple – the first one home takes the title and a likely podium place in the Gold Star Championship..! Although the MRF Fiesta ST Trophy was settled in favour of Zak Hughes / Tom Wood on the Woodpecker Stages, Manxman Steven Ormond-Smith will be attempting to wrest runner-up spot from Bobby Mitchell. Success could also see him leap-frog the Scotsman in the overall Production Cup table but, needless to say, Mitchell will have other ideas on that score!…

Andy Davison/Tom Murphy (Talbot Sunbeam VXR) have emerged victorious from the last two rounds of the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Silver Star® Championship, such that the driver is confirmed as runner-up in the Series, but Murphy will be revelling in his new-found status as 2019 Silver Star Champion Co-driver! Contesting his first BTRDA event since the Malcolm Wilson Rally back in March, Steve Hopewell (Escort) and co-driver Clive Jones will be hoping to deny Davison/Murphy their third consecutive maximum. Meanwhile, a good run from Rob Wright (Escort) could conceivably elevate the Whitehaven driver to the final podium spot in this year’s Silver Star table.
<<<<<<<   Andy Davison/Tom Murphy – Talbot Sunbeam VXR

BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup winners Perry Gardener/Keaton Williams are busy preparing to take up their prize of a free entry on the National section of Wales Rally GB, leaving the Fiesta R2’s of James Giddings and Tony Simpson/Ian Bevan, plus the Peugeot 208 of Ed Fossey/Will Rutherford to close the season out. They will be joined by Fiesta ST champions Zak Hughes/Tom Wood using a Fiesta R2 for the first time.

Having been absent for several rounds, series sponsor Baz Jordan returns on the Trackrod in an Historic spec. Subaru Legacy. His presence will certainly add spice to the BTRDA Historic Cup® battle currently being waged between the Escorts of David Gathercole (MkI RS1600) and Steve Ward (Mk2), both of whom are chasing the runner-up spot. After a fraught season with their Mitsubishi Galant, Tom Coughtrie/Ian Fraser will be looking to end it on a high, while a good result from Ben Friend/Cliff Simmons’ Escort could possibly see it finish 3rd overall in the Historic Cup.

David Gathercole (MkI RS1600)   >>>>>>>

Steve Black/Paul Morris are the leading Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA 1400® Championship crew in their Suzuki Swift, while Richard Jordan/James Gratton-Smith will be out to make up some lost ground caused when their Proton Satria broke a driveshaft last time out. Class 1400C is going down to the wire…. The Evans brothers’ Peugeot 205 held sway early in the season, but the ever-present Micra of Richard Garnett/Robert Gilham took centre stage on the Plains Rally. Neither car finished the Nicky Grist Stages and the Evans’ were then absent from the Woodpecker. So, a grandstand finish is on the cards, and it could go either way – brace yourselves!…

Current leader Joseph Keen’s absence from Filey means that, as long as Graham Roberts (MG ZR) finishes the Trackrod, he will become the BTRDA Rally First® Champion, no matter what Wesley Gilford (Fiesta ST) can do to throw a spanner in the works!

Graham Roberts – BTRDA Rally First MG ZR  >>>>>>>>

The Trackrod Forest Stages is the final counting round towards the new BTRDA Junior Driver incentive 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 the 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 four rounds of the 2019 BTRDA Junior Championship to take place since the initiative was announced, beginning with the Plains Rally in May. Following the Woodpecker, George Lepley (57 points) has retaken the lead with George Clarke (42 points) now up to second and Matthew Hirst currently in third with 39 points. The prize will be presented by Adam at the 2019 BTRDA Rally Series Awards Evening in January.

Filey also welcomes contenders for the MAXXIS Motorsport UK 2019 English Rally Championship although, unlike the BTRDA Rally Series, this still has another round to go after the Trackrod. However, even at this advanced stage in the season, it’s anyone’s guess who’ll eventually walk off with the title. Yes – that man George Lepley leads the charge, but only by a single point from Callum Black (MG ZR) and three from Andy Davison. One tiny mistake could prove costly and considerably alter the look of the leaderboard. Rob Wright, James Giddings and Scott Faulkner are also less than ten points adrift of the overall leader, with up to 25 available on each round!….

The first car leaves the start of the Trackrod Forest Stages at St Helens in the Park, Wykeham, at 09.01 on Saturday 28th September and, following approximately 45 miles of single-use special stages in the classic forests of Dalby, Langdale, Cropton Staindale and Gale Rigg, returns for the Ceremonial Finish at the Beach in Filey during the afternoon.

The main photo is George Lepley’s Mitsubishi Lancer in full flight during the Woodpecker Stages!    All photos © Kevin Money & Malc Almond.