Preview of Round 3 : Brick & Steel Border Counties Rally (6th May)
The Brick & Steel Border Counties Rally is the third round of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series and Arron Newby / Jamie Edwards (Fabia R5) and Elliot Payne / Tom Woodburn (Fiesta Rally2) arrive in Jedburgh as joint leaders of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Gold Star® Championship, each with a 1st and a 2nd place to their credit so far. However, as both crews can’t be credited with identical scores on any particular event, one way or another, the tie will be broken on 6th May.
Joint BTRDA Gold Star Leaders: Arron Newby / Jamie Edwards (Fabia R5) and Elliot Payne / Tom Woodburn (Fiesta Rally2) >>>
The records show that Elliot Payne won the event last year, ahead of David Henderson (Fiesta Rally2) who is returning in an attempt to go one better this time, but a glance at the entry list tells us that whoever comes out on top will have had to work very hard for the privilege! Missing the 2022 event in favour of his co-driver Declan Dear’s wedding, Matthew Hirst (Fiesta R5) has proved he’s a force to be reckoned with wherever he competes and the pair will view it as an opportunity to improve on their current 4th place in the points table. Meanwhile Fiesta converts Ian Bainbridge / Will Atkins will want to put a retirement on the recent Rallynuts Stages behind them and set about making an impression on the leaderboard.
Making a welcome return to the BTRDA Series are 2017 Gold Star Champions Stephen Petch / Michael Wilkinson who have transferred their allegiance from Ford to a Skoda Fabia Rally2. Although they’ve not contested either of the first two rounds of this year’s Series, the words ‘cat’ and ‘pigeons’ spring to mind!…
Then we mustn’t forget the B13 Lancer EVO9 of Russ Thompson / Steve Link – 4th overall on both the Malcolm Wilson and Rallynuts Stages see them occupying the final podium spot in the Gold Star table at the one-quarter distance. Ian Joel / Graeme Wood (Escort Cosworth) are their nearest class rivals but, having missed the opener, Rob Wilson / Richard Crozier, in another Lancer, were 2nd to Thompson last time out….
<<<<< Class B13 Leaders : Russ Thompson/Steve Link (Lancer EVO9)
Ben Friend / Cliff Simmons (Escort Mk2) rule the roost in the MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star® Championship with a 1st and a 2nd place so far, but they were upstaged by the similar car of Robert Gough / Paul Morris on the Rallynuts Stages and now go head-to head once more in both Silver Star and the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup.
Ben Friend/Cliff Simmons (Escort) – BTRDA Silver Star & Historic Cup Leaders >>>
Boyd Kershaw / Keegan Rees (Escort Mk2) and Robert Proudlock / Steven Brown (Opel Adam) are inseparable in runners-up spot in the Silver Star table – an alliance which, once again, will be broken on the Border Counties and, from the BTRDA’s point of view, it’s gratifying to see that there are several crews who might just get involved in such a breakage! Andy Davison / Tom Murphy (Sunbeam VXR) have begun their 2023 campaign well, as have Neil Andrew / Dom Adams (Escort) – it’s amazing what a couple of solid scores early in the season does for your confidence! Having been absent from the Rallynuts Stages, defending Silver Star Champions Rob Wright / Mark Fisher, who were runners-up on the Malcolm Wilson in their Escort, are back and their track record is such that they can’t be discounted from causing an upset!
<<<< Robert Proudlock and Steven Brown (Opel Adam)
While, unsurprisingly, Proudlock / Brown lead the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup, the Fiestas of Liam Clark / Ben Wild, Alfie Hammond / Phil Boyle and Tony Simpson / Stefan Arndt are all in the mix and, at the risk of tempting fate, thus far have yet to record a DNF! Proudlock, Clark and Hammond are also eligible for the BTRDA Rallye R2 Junior Cup with the three currently separated by a mere four points….
OK, so Friend / Simmons lead the BTRDA Historic Cup from Gough/Morris but the Border Counties entry also includes Ernie & Patricia Lee (BMW 325i) and Ernie & Karen Graham (Escort RS1600) who could each give their campaigns a welcome boost in what is a very crowded table!
After two events, the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Championship finds itself in a similar situation to that of the Gold Star in that there is a tie for top spot. Nigel & Kaz Jenkins (Nova) headed Lewis Hooper / Rhys Edwards (Rally First Micra) home on the Malcolm Wilson while the roles were reversed on the Rallynuts Stages. So, whose turn is it on the Border Counties – or will someone else take centre stage?… Class 1400C leaders, Dylan Fowler-Bishop / Dan Evans (Micra) are 3rd in the overall table and, consequently, best placed to benefit should anything untoward happen to either of the crews in front of them.
Bronze Star Leaders: Nigel & Kaz Jenkins (Nova) and Lewis Hooper/Rhys Edwards (Micra)
In addition to the defence of his MRF Tyres Rally First Cup title, Lewis Hooper is also chasing victory in the MRF Motorsport Tyres Trophy which could earn him a number of free entries and/or sets of tyres for the 2024 BTRDA Rally Series. Following the Rallynuts Stages, Ian Joel (Escort Cosworth) is ‘King of the Castle’ with Lewis 2nd on a tie-break (sound familiar?) but neither driver will need reminding that there’s still a long way to go!
Having been ‘resting’ since the beginning of March, contenders for the Motorsport UK English Rally Championship, in association with Seacon UK, are back on parade in Jedburgh as they attempt to resolve the inevitable ties that occur after the first round of the class-based series. Robert Proudlock, Nigel Jenkins, Elliot Payne & Ben Friend share top billing, but Arron Newby & Russ Thompson are two points behind with another five drivers a further one in arrears. So, there’ll be plenty of action while all this is sorted out!
The Brick & Steel Border Counties Rally takes in six special stages and the first car leaves the start at Jedburgh Abbey at 8.00am on Saturday 6th May. Prospective spectators should consult : www.bordercountiesrally.co.uk/spectators/
All photos © Kevin Money & Malcolm Almond