Author Archives: Howard Wilcock


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

WEATHER – or not……!

Preview of Round 2 : Malcolm Wilson Rally – 9th March
This time last year the country was in the grip of the ‘Beast from the East’ and, in spite of their best efforts, the organisers of the Malcolm Wilson Rally, the second round of the JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series, were forced to concede defeat at the hands of the elements. Such are the vagaries of the British climate that we have recently experienced the ‘warmest February day since records began’ – followed immediately by snow in the Lake District, so in terms of long-term planning, there’s just no way of predicting what might happen. Unbowed, the event organising team is waiting to welcome almost 100 competitors to M-Sport’s premises in Dovenby on 8th March for the pre-event formalities, prior to a cracking day in the Lake District forests.
In terms of the JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Gold Star® Championship, Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton’s victory on the season-opening Cambrian Rally in their Focus WRC sees them start the Malcolm Wilson Rally as leaders. They’ve already won it twice before but, then again, their closest rivals on the Cambrian, Charlie Payne/Carl Williamson (Fiesta), have also tasted champagne in Cumbria – so, whatever happens on the day, no-one can expect an easy ride!
Steve Simpson will be looking to improve on his 7th place on the Cambrian while, following retirements first time out, fellow Fiesta crews Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson, Sam Bilham, who has Patrick Walsh alongside for company on this occasion, and Brian Bell/Paul Spooner will be looking for an opportunity to open their respective accounts.
In the B13 class battle, Ian Bainbridge/Daniel May’s Impreza came out on top in North Wales, ahead of the similar car of Richard Hill and the Mitsubishis of Richard Sykes and Petr Krizan/Lukas Sintal, each of whom will be heading to Cumbria for the next instalment. Also appearing on the list of retirements on Round 1, both Ian Joel/Graeme Wood (Escort Cosworth) and Matthew Hirst/Declan Dear (Lancer EVO9) will be reporting for duty as they attempt to re-establish themselves in the upper echelons of the points table!

Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence lead the BTRDA Production Cup at this early stage, having finished an excellent 4th overall on the Cambrian in their Lancer EVO9. Defending champions Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy and Scott Faulkner/Gareth Parry also registered Top Ten finishes in their examples and, as the saying goes, this one will ‘run and run’….
Welshmen Zak Hughes/Tom Wood are current kings of the MRF Fiesta ST Trophy castle as they head north but, as the Malcolm Wilson Rally is the closest event in the BTRDA Series to current runners-up, Bobby Mitchell (Dunbar)/Shannon Turnbull (Motherwell), they may be hoping for some degree of ‘home’ advantage!… Donegal’s David Kelly continues the multi-national flavour to this year’s line-up, while Matt Baddeley/Phil Kenny will be amongst those representing England!

Beginning 2019 where they left off at the end of last season, albeit in a vastly different car, George Lepley/Arwel Jenkins showed the JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Silver Star® Championship hopefuls a clean pair of heels in Barry Jordan’s Historic spec. Hillman Avenger on the Cambrian Rally. However, they’ll be aware that the presence of the more powerful Escorts of Damian Pratts/Johnny Tad Evans and Owen McMackin/Lee Taylor cannot be ignored, while the threat posed by Andy Davison/Tom Murphy’s Talbot Sunbeam VXR – a DNF in Wales – must also be taken seriously.

<<<<<<<<   George Lepley / Arwel Jenkins pressing on during the Cambrian Rally

In BTRDA Historic Cup terms, Lepley/Jenkins are on level pegging with David Gathercole’s Escort RS1600 at the top of the table but, as this is only the second round and with everyone’s five best scores from seven events to count, it’s still possible for someone that we haven’t met yet to come along and sweep all before them…especially with the incentive of £500 per round for the BTRDA Historic Cup winners..!

As the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup enters its second year, its popularity and relevance to the current UK rallying scene is there for all to see. Perry Gardener (son of former Gold Star Champion Shaun Gardener) and Keaton Williams (Fiesta) stamped their authority on the proceedings in Wales and may take small comfort from the absence of runners-up Ed Fossey/Will Rutherford this time. Notwithstanding, all the other ‘starters’ in the category are back for more, with the Fiestas of Tommi Meadows/Emma Morrison and James Giddings/Sion Cunniff leading the charge.

Whilst we’re not yet back to the halcyon days of entry levels in the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA 1400 Championship, there has certainly been something of an upturn from the start of the new season, and the pace at the front is as hot as ever! Chris Powell/Jim Lewis wrung every ounce of power out of their Sunbeam on the Cambrian to beat Dave & Toby Brick’s Corsa by just 7s. However, there’s no sign of the Bricks on the Malcolm Wilson entry list, but Steve Black/Paul Morris will be taking their Suzuki Swift for a trip up the M6, while Pete Gorst/Phil King (Nova) won’t have far to go from their homes in Kendal !     

<<<<<<<<    Chris Powell/Jim Lewis (Sunbeam) – Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA 1400 Championship Leaders

Class 1400C leaders Mat & Dan Evans (Peugeot 205) will be looking to extend their advantage after the opening round but, rest assured, Richard Garnett/Rob Gilham (Micra) will have other ideas on that score!… Meanwhile, Sam Johnson’s Seat Arosa and the Fiesta ST of Wesley Gilford will be going head-to-head in the BTRDA Rally First Championship.


The MAXXIS Motorsport UK 2019 English Rally Championship also takes a bow in Cumbria as its new season gets underway. A mixed-surface seven-event calendar (5 forest and 2 asphalt) beckons for competitors in this class-based series that caters for all vehicles that comply with the current Motorsport UK Technical Regulations. There are seven separate capacity classes and, the points will reflect achievement against other competitors in the same class, and as such, the eventual champions could come from any one of them – indeed, the Ford Escort Cosworth of 2018 English Rally Champions Ian Joel / Graeme Wood were not from the most powerful class.

Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence’s MAXXIS Tyres-sponsored Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9       >>>>>>>>

Following the opening round – the Malcolm Wilson Rally – there could be several joint leaders, i.e. the winners from each class, and it’s only as the season gets into full swing that success will pay dividends. There’s plenty of time for everyone to sort themselves out – the final event, the Wyedean Stages, isn’t until mid-November!…

NB: The MAXXIS Tyres Motorsport UK 2019 English Rally Championship registration is part of the 2019 BTRDA Rally Series and BTRDA membership package.

The first car leaves the start of the Malcolm Wilson Rally from M-Sport at 7.00am on Saturday 9th March for the first of eight special stages in the Lake District, before the finish at the Hired Lad, on the outskirts of Penrith, at 15.00.      AH

Main photo is Euan Thorburn/Paul Beaton (Focus WRC) on the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally.           All photos © Kevin Money or Malcolm Almond


PETCH PERSISTS…!  Preview of Round 1 – Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally.

The 2019 JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series® hits the road on 16th February when crews converge on Llandudno for the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally. 2017 BTRDA Gold Star® Rally Championship winners Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson were thwarted in their attempts to take back-to-back titles last year, having to settle for the runners-up spot behind Matt Edwards/Darren Garrod. However, undaunted, they’re back for more and their Fiesta will leave the start one minute in front of the similar car of 2016 Gold Star winners Charlie Payne/Carl Williamson.  Add to that an intriguing entry from the 2013 Gold Star Champions Euan Thorburn and Paul Beaton from Scotland (Focus WRC)  – and so, straight away, there’s a battle to keep a close eye on!…   Adding a spot of variety to the current Ford Fiesta domination, the Citroen DS3 R5 of Irishmen Niall Henry / Damien Duffin will, no doubt, provide some tough opposition!

2017 Fiesta ST Trophy winner Sam Bilham moves up to a Fiesta R5 for an assault on the Gold Star Championship this year. Indeed, his Greenlight Sports sponsored Fiesta started life in the hands of Stephen Petch and, most recently, won the Cadwell Park Stages with Guy Smith at the helm.  Former UK Asphalt Rally Champion Steve Simpson and multiple BTRDA Forest Rally Champions Brian Bell / Paul Spooner will also be wheeling out their respective Fiestas for the start of the BTRDA’s 66th year of ‘Serious Fun’!….

Ian Joel / Graeme Wood (Escort Cosworth) achieved some impressive results in 2018 on their way to claiming the Class B13 crown. A season-ending 5th overall on the Trackrod Forest Stages last September will see them full of confidence as they embark on a new campaign – but nobody said it was going to be easy! The Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9 of Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear proved to be a thorn in their side for much of the year – and they’re also back for more! Then Richard Hill / Pat Cooper’s Subaru Impreza and the Lancers of Ieuan Rowlands / Emyr Hall and Richard Sykes / Simon Taylor will also be playing their part in what promises to be a very competitive class.

Meanwhile, the BTRDA Production Cup caters for FIA-homologated Group N machinery, both two and four-wheel drive, and the two front-running Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9s of 2017 winners Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence and defending champions Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy are set to renew their intense rivalry! This time, however, they are joined by a third example in the hands of Scott Faulkner/Gareth Parry who will be intent on upsetting the apple cart!…

Cars contesting the MRF Fiesta ST Trophy also qualify for the Production Cup and, while only benefitting from two driven wheels, as opposed to the four of the Mitsubishis, consistency has seen them punching above their weight on a number of occasions in the past. 2018 winners James Giddings / Sion Cunniff have moved on to the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup – more of which anon – but new recruits Manxman Steven Ormond-Smith, Scotsman Bobby Mitchell and Welshman Elliott Stafford are set to ensure that Giddings’ successor could come from anywhere in the UK!

Notwithstanding George Lepley’s 2018 Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Silver Star® Championship victory in his R2 Fiesta, the two-wheel drive series has been the domain of rear-wheel drive vehicles in recent times. Lining up at the start of the Cambrian in the hope of rekindling that trend will be the Escorts of Owen McMackin / Lee Taylor, Steve Hopewell/Clive Jones and 2011 Champions Allan McDowall / Gavin Heseltine. Breaking the Ford monopoly is the rapid Talbot Sunbeam VXR of Andy Davison / Tom Murphy and, whilst entered in one of the Historic classes, a pair of Hillman Avengers for series sponsor Barry Jordan & Paul Wakely and that man Lepley are also eligible for Silver Star points!  Hoping to repeat his Class H4 win of last season, Tom Coughtrie returns in his Mitsubishi Galant VR4, while Jordan’s main rival may well be David Gathercole’s Escort RS1600.

A Fiesta is still the car of choice for several drivers hoping to succeed Lepley to the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup. In addition to Giddings/Cunniff, Mathew & Tim Tordoff and Richard Wells/Calvin Houldsworth also move across from the STs, while Perry Gardener and Tommi Meadows up the ante from the 1400s for the new season. Intent on showing the Ford devotees the error of their ways, 2017 BTRDA 1400 Champion Ed Fossey returns with a Peugeot 208 R2 and is partnered by fellow Jersey resident Will Rutherford-Child who, himself, sampled 1400 Championship glory with Julian Wilkes in both 2012 and 2013!

In the first full season since Motorsport UK’s relaxation of the rules in relation to the running order on events, much attention will be paid to the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA 1400 Championship – in particular the level of entries. Competitors in this category run at the front of the field and initial signs are that the take-up is encouraging. Defending Champions Dave & Toby Brick (Corsa) return and the father-and-son team will, once again, be up against the Talbot Sunbeam of Chris Powell / Jim Lewis. Steve Black / Paul Morris’ Suzuki Swift beat the Bricks last time out, while Callum Black, whose Fiesta R5+ was dicing for the overall Gold Star Championship lead on his last serious attempt in 2017, is back in an MG ZR. Kieran Darrington made a welcome reappearance in his Vauxhall Corsa during last year and, with Abi Haycock reading the notes, he’ll be hoping to put his recent experience to good use. Also listed under ‘returnees’, 2016 BTRDA Rally First® Champions Dominic Hodge / Stefan Arndt are back for an assault on the 1400s in their Nissan Micra.

With classes that include cars up to 2-litre, the BTRDA Rally First Championship allows only limited modifications. The leading crews last year were in Toyotas but interest so far has been shown by such varying machinery as the Seat Arosa of Sam & Liam Johnson, Joseph Keen’s MG ZR and Alan King / Michael Jones’ 2.0 VW Lupo GTI.     Gentlemen, start your engines!….

Seven special stages in some of the classic North Wales forests await competitors on the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally and, following their completion, the first car is due back at the finish in the centre of Llandudno at 3.30pm on Saturday afternoon.

Photo is Stephen Petch / Michael Wilkinson on their way to winning the 2017 BTRDA Gold Star Championship.

Something for everyone in 2019….!

The 2019 JORDAN Road Surfacing 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 2019 Regulations and calendar of events can be viewed via the Competitors section of this website.

Competitors who have not yet registered for 2019 can do so now via the on-line BTRDA membership and registration system 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 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.


BTRDA Historic Cup:    On each round of the championship the overall winner of the BTRDA Historic Cup will receive £500 – a total of £3,500 over the seven-event series – and the overall BTRDA Historic Champion will be presented with the prestigious AC de Monaco Trophy at the end of year BTRDA awards ceremony.

BTRDA Junior Championship Awards:   2019 sees the 40th anniversary of legendary rally results provider Tynemouth Computer Services (TCS), and also 40 consecutive years of involvement with the BTRDA Rally Championships. In order to help celebrate this milestone, TCS founder Martin Liddle is supporting the BTRDA Junior Championship with cash awards on each individual round. Based on the Index of Performance classification, as used to calculate the Junior Championship points, the first, second and third Junior Driver on each BTRDA Rally Series event will receive cash awards of £150, £100 & £50 respectively, while the Junior Co-drivers will also benefit to the tune of £75, £50 & £25 – a total of £3,150 over the seven-event series. These awards are open to all registered competitors who were born on or after 1st January 1995.

In addition, there are end of season awards of £250 for both the highest placed Junior Driver in the BTRDA Rally Series and the English Rally Championship, courtesy of Mintex.

ROAD to WALES:     For several years the BTRDA Rally Series has benefitted from a free entry for Wales Rally GB National Rally through its ‘Road to Wales’ initiative. This will continue in 2019 and the prize – worth around £1,000 – will go to the leading BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup driver after the Woodpecker Stages.

Photo on the right is of Fiesta ST Trophy winners James Giddings  / Sion Cunniff on the 2018 Trackrod Forest Stages. They return in 2019 in a Fiesta R2 to have a go at the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup.  >

Main photo above is Pat Nayor / Ian Lawrence (Gp N Mitsubishi Evo 9) trying very hard on the Trackrod Forest Stages.  They will resume their rivalry with Russ Thompson / Andy Murphy (Gp N Mitsubishi Evo 9) once again in 2019.