News

SERIOUS FUN AT 70 !…

2023 marks the 70th [Platinum edition] of both the BTRDA Gold & Silver Star® Rally Championships and, following ratification by the Rally Championship Control Panel, the BTRDA Rallies Committee is delighted to announce next year’s calendar (N.B. Dates correct at time of publication). Eight of the UK’s finest one-day forest events are included and, as ever, in order to give competitors an element of choice and to fit in with busy work / life schedules, everyone’s best six scores will count towards their final tally.  So, diaries at the ready! The 2023 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series calendar is as follows : –

   March 11th           Malcolm Wilson Rally            Cockermouth
   April 15th             Rallynuts Stages                    Royal Welsh Showground
   May 6th                Border Counties Rally           Jedburgh
   June 17th             Kielder Forest Rally               Hexham
   July 8th                Nicky Grist Stages                 Builth Wells
   September 9th    Woodpecker Stages               Ludlow
   September 23rd  Trackrod Forest Stages         Filey
   October 28th       Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally  Llandudno

(Dates for the 2023 English Rally Championship will be confirmed shortly)

 

<<<<<  Grant Inglis  Winner of the 2022 BTRDA Historic Cup and the AC de Monaco Trophy

For 2023 the all-encompassing 12 class structure, which caters for all rally cars conforming to the current Motorsport UK technical regulations, has undergone a few ‘tweaks’ which include: – 

BTRDA Gold & Silver Star
Class B11 (1601cc – 2000cc) will also include cars up to 1300cc with forced induction engines.

Class R2 and Junior R2 Cup will include all current and former FIA R2 cars (but not FIA Rally 4 Cars)

The BTRDA Historic Cup will be split into 2 classes: –
 Class H1/2 All Historic Category 1 and 2 cars and Category 3 cars with single cam engines.

Class H3/4 Historic Category 3 cars with multi cam engines and all Category 4a and 4b cars which comply with R49.1.5.BTRDA Historic Cup

BTRDA Bronze Star
Class 1400S – to include FIA Rally5 cars.
Class RF1.4 – to also include BTRDA Rally First cars with forced induction engines up to 1000cc.
Class RF2.0 – to also include BTRDA Rally First cars with forced induction engines up to 1300cc.
NB:   Rally First cars will now be permitted to use a limited-slip differential.

Neil Cross, BTRDA Rallies Committee Chair, commented ‘We’re delighted to present the 2023 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series, returning to the events that competitors enjoyed so much this year. Offering a stable well-spread calendar, we’re looking for another season of ‘Serious Fun’ with the BTRDA. We’ve listened to our competitors and have tweaked our class eligibility. New for 2023, for example, is the introduction of limited slip diffs in Rally First, a change that we hope will bring some more cars out in that class.” 

                                                                                                                                 BTRDA R2 Junior Cup Winner   Billy Grew   >>>>>>

In addition to our title sponsor, MRF Tyres, the BTRDA would also like to place on record its thanks to all the associated sponsors including JORDAN Road Surfacing, FUCHS Titan, MINTEX Racing / Questmead, CARLESS fuels, KIELDER products and Shepherd Compello Motorsport Insurance, who have contributed to the success of the 2022 BTRDA Rally Series, and look forward to working with them again in 2023.

More information and the 2023 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series Championship Regulations will be available from early December.  The 2023 BTRDA Rally Series (‘platinum edition’) will have something for everyone !

VICTORY PARADE!…

Preview of Round 8 (Final):

Having clinched the 2022 MRF Tyres BTRDA Gold Star® Rally Championship title with a round to spare, Elliot Payne and Patrick Walsh (Fiesta Rally2) start the final event, the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally, with the express intention of going one better than the runners up spot they achieved in North Wales twelve months ago!   The featured image is Elliot Payne and Patrick Walsh (Fiesta Rally2) – 2022 MRF Tyres BTRDA Gold Star Champions on the recent Trackrod Forest Rally

It was Callum Black who took victory on the final round of last year’s BTRDA Rally Series and, while not in contention for 2022 honours, the Brackley driver will be aiming for a repeat performance in his appropriately black-liveried Fiesta Rally2 !  So, while we already know who the Gold Star Champions are, the remaining podium places are still to be decided. Without going into the mathematical gymnastics of ‘who needs to do what’ in order to qualify, Stephen Petch / Michael Wilkinson (Fiesta Rally2), Perry Gardener / Jack Bowen and newly-crowned Welsh National Rally Champions Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear (both Fiesta R5s) are all in the frame and, while also battling for Class B13 supremacy, the Lancer EVO9s of Richard Hill / Pat Cooper and Russ Thompson / Steve Link could also feature by the time crews arrive back in Llandudno at the conclusion of the Cambrian!…

Class B13, itself, is an interesting one! Hill has finished all seven events to date and heads the table from Thompson who, for his part, has a score in hand and, given a clear run, is ideally placed to snatch victory at the last gasp. Then, although not quite close enough to target a class win, and with all the usual caveats, current 3rd & 4th placed Rob Wilson / Richard Crozier and Pat Naylor / Ian Lawrence (also Lancer EVO9s) could well end the season in the Top Three. Fascinating stuff!…

With all due deference to Andy Davison whose Talbot Sunbeam VXR showed the other two-wheel drive cars a clean pair of heels on the recent Trackrod Forest Rally, the MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star® Championship has been dominated by Ford Escort Mk2’s once again this season. Maximum points on each of the other six rounds have been claimed by such vehicles and, as we approach the finale, Rob Wright – whose co-driver Mark Fisher is already confirmed as Silver Star Champion – is in front of mid-season leader Nick Dobson. At the time of writing neither name appears on the Cambrian Rally entry list and thus, should this situation be maintained, Wright will automatically join Fisher as 2022 Champion.

<<<<   Rob Wright / Mark Fisher (Escort) – MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star Championship Leaders

 

Already confirmed as BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup Champions, Jonathan Jones / Jez Rogers have broken the Escort stranglehold at the business end of the Silver Star table in their Fiesta and arrive in Llandudno in 3rd place. However, they must be very wary of Michael McDaid / Declan Casey whose Escort Mk2 – what else?… – has only contested four events, but has two maximums, one 2nd and a 3rd to its credit – a continuation of this form could see Jones deprived of a possible podium finish… Although only contesting selected events, the ‘Flying Kiwi’ Boyd Kershaw (Escort) and co-driver Keegan Rees, who ‘won’ Silver Star on their last appearance on the Woodpecker Stages Rally, return for the finale and can reasonably expect to be there or thereabouts when it comes to the two-wheel drive leader board.

                                                                  Jonathan Jones and Jez Rogers Winners of the 2022 BTRDA R2 Cup >>>>>>>

In spite of a couple of hiccups (or ‘retirements’ as they’re known in the trade!) along the way, Grant Inglis / Gavin Chisholm (Escort) have been the season-long leaders of the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup but, as they approach the final countdown, once again it’s McDaid and Casey who could yet upset the apple-cart. Put simply, if Inglis / Chisholm finish, they’ll be safe but, as we all know, that’s easier said than done!

Lewis Hooper has led the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Championship right from the word ‘go’ in his ‘Rally First’-specification Nissan Micra. In spite of its lack of power when set against the 1400S ‘pocket-rockets’, reliability has helped maintain its position which only now is coming under threat as proceedings draw to a close.

<<<<<<<<   Lewis Hooper (Nissan Micra) – Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Championship Leader

Pete Gorst / Mark Twiname (Nova) have three maximums (four in the co-driver’s case) to their name but have also recorded two DNFs – so, on the one hand, they have a score-in hand over their rivals but, on the other, leave themselves with absolutely no margin for error. Not only must they finish the Cambrian to give themselves any chance of success but, if they finish well, they could earn themselves a BTRDA Bronze Star each!…  Ed James / Charlie Mason (Nissan Micra Kit Car), who posted their first retirement of the season last time out, can only improve on past scores but, dependant on the fortunes of others, could possibly hold on to their current 2nd (Driver) and 1st (Co-driver) positions. In spite of two consecutive retirements, Richard Garnett / Stefan Arndt (Nissan Micra) hold sway in Class 1400C but they’ll need to keep a wary eye out for the Ka of Adrian & Matt Walk which, while also the victim of a couple of DNFs, could still overhaul them – just!

SPECTATORS : The first car leaves the start on Llandudno Promenade at 08.01 on 29th October and further details are available at : https://cambrianrally.co.uk/spectators
All photos © Kevin Money / Malcolm Almond

BLACK’S BEAUTY LEADS THE WAY!…

Preview of Round 7:
As the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series moves towards its finale, Filey plays host to the penultimate encounter, the Trackrod Forest Stages, on 24th September and, following victory last time out on the Woodpecker, Callum Black (featured image) will lead contenders away from the start in his black liveried Fiesta Rally2. Due to his absence from a number of the earlier rounds, he’s not personally involved in the battle for MRF Tyres BTRDA Gold Star Rally Championship glory but, for those who are, it now gets serious as dropped scores come into play.

Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear (Fiesta R5) are next but, while they have already won two rounds outright, a ‘did-not-start’ and a retirement leave them with no room for error between now and the end of the season if they are to capitalise on their earlier successes. Meanwhile, Elliot Payne / Patrick Walsh (Fiesta Rally2) not only have two victories to their credit but have also backed them up with a pair of second-places and one third.

                                                                                                      Elliot Payne / Patrick Walsh (Fiesta Rally2)  >>> 

Even so, there is still work to do if they are to achieve their aim and become the latest in a long – and illustrious! – line of BTRDA Gold Star Rally Champions…
Perry Gardener / Jack Bowen (Fiesta R5) were leading the points table prior to an accident on the Nicky Grist Stages in July and, in spite of finishing runners-up on the recent Woodpecker Rally, currently trail Payne / Walsh & Stephen Petch / Michael Wilkinson’s Fiesta Rally2. All three crews have, so far, only registered one retirement apiece and, thus, still have an element of wriggle-room before Judgement Day at the end of October!

Class B13 is proving to be its usual hot-bed of competition to the point that, without a blemish on their finishing record, Richard Hill / Pat Cooper (Lancer EVO9) are actually leading the Gold Star Championship overall. We could, therefore, be accused of stating the obvious by recording the fact that they also head B13 – currently by a considerable margin! The one crew who could yet rain on their parade is Russ Thompson / Steve Link (also Lancer EVO9) who, similar to Hirst / Dear, already have a couple of gaps on their scorecards and cannot afford to put a foot wrong. Pressure – what pressure?….

In common with Gold Star, the MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star® Championship has also witnessed four different winners so far this season and, from them, it’s the ‘double top’ crew of Michael McDaid / Declan Casey (Escort Mk2) who are the first two-wheel drive car away as they attempt a hat-trick.

<< Michael McDaid / Declan Casey (Escort Mk2) on the Woodpecker

The Irishmen will have the Talbot Sunbeam VXR of Andy Davison / Tom Murphy and early season leaders Rob Wright / Mark Fisher (Escort Mk2) to keep an eye out for while, from the start, current series leader Nick Dobson (Escort Mk2) is only a couple of minutes behind this group.
Jonathan Jones / Jez Rogers (Fiesta) lead the race to succeed Ioan Lloyd / Sion Williams as BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup Champions, but there is still work to be done before the matter is put beyond doubt. So, a good run over the North York Moors would help immeasurably!
Another category-leading crew to fall foul of the terrain on the Woodpecker was Grant Inglis / Gavin Chisholm whose Escort came off second-best in a skirmish with some logs. In spite of this setback, they’ve managed to maintain their lead in the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup, albeit by a reduced margin from Michael McDaid / Declan Casey (Escort). James Lepley (Escort) had his best run to-date on the Woodpecker and will be hoping for a continuation in this change of fortune while the presence of Alex Waterman / Glyn Thomas (Datsun 1600SSS) and Ernie & Patricia Lee (BMW 325) provides further variety to the category as a whole.

Long-time Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Championship leader Lewis Hooper (Nissan Micra) was absent from the Woodpecker, allowing Ed James / Charlie Mason (Micra Kit Car) to overhaul him. Another crew to fall foul of a broken driveshaft last time, Richard Garnett / Stefan Arndt (Micra) were, thus, unable to further their cause while, at the same time, Pete Gorst / Mark Twiname can count themselves lucky as, by the finish at Ludlow Racecourse, their blue Nova was sporting a large dent in its roof!   Nevertheless, returning to the subject of dropped scores, Gorst / Twiname have previously accrued three maximums and, while not sufficient to put the matter beyond doubt, will certainly benefit from them as the season draws to a close.

Having had July and August to regroup, contenders for the Motorsport UK English Rally Championship in association with Seacon UK, are being called to arms for the second time in three weeks on the Trackrod Forest Stages! Richard Hill (Lancer EVO9) leads Nick Dobson (Escort Mk2) by a single point, with Ian Joel (Escort Cosworth) and Stephen Petch (Fiesta Rally2) tied in 3rd place, another one point behind.

SPECTATORS : Advanced tickets (no cash on the day) and details are available via the website (www.rallyyorkshire.co.uk/spectator-information).

All photos © Kevin Money / Malcom Almond

A DAY AT THE RACES..!

Preview of Round 6:
The sixth round of the 2022 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series, the Phil Price Memorial Woodpecker Stages, returns to its traditional base at Ludlow Racecourse on 3rd September for the first time since 2019 and what is one of the most popular forest events in the calendar has attracted a total entry of nearly 170 cars!

After a brief summer break, the battle for the MRF Tyres BTRDA Gold Star® Championship resumes with the ultra-consistent (5 starts > 5 finishes) Mitsubishi Lancer of Richard Hill / Pat Cooper currently in pole position. To date, the Fiestas of Elliot Payne / Patrick Walsh and Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear have two wins apiece, while Stephen Petch / Michael Wilkinson were victorious on the opening round of the season in theirs.

<<    Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear

Following an indiscretion on the Nicky Grist Stages which cost them a finish, erstwhile series leaders Perry Gardener / Jack Bowen’s Fiesta R5 has been returned to the shape originally intended by the designers at Ford and they’ll tackle their ‘home’ event (Perry lives in Ludlow) in an attempt to reassert their supremacy. Joining them for the first time this year will be the BTRDA Rally Series’ 200th registration and 2017 Gold Star runner-up, Callum Black, who has 2015 MSA Asphalt Champion Co-driver Jack Morton for company in his MRF Tyres-sponsored Fiesta Rally2.

As far as Class B13 is concerned, while Hill and Cooper currently hold the upper hand, this particular skirmish certainly isn’t over yet! Class leaders until a big accident on the Kielder Forest Rally in June temporarily halted their progress, Russ Thompson / Steve Link (Lancer EVO9) return to join similarly-mounted Darren Craig / Harry Stubbs, Pat Naylor / Ian Lawrence, Rob Wilson / Richard Crozier and winner last time out James Giddings who, from varying distances in arrears, all have one common aim!…

A similar faultless finishing record, thus far, sees Nick Dobson’s Escort [see featured image] dominating the MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star® Championship points table. Nick took advantage of former top dogs Rob Wright / Mark Fisher’s early exit from the Kielder Forest Rally and has yet to be persuaded to restore the status quo (at least from Wright / Fisher’s perspective!). Grant Inglis / Gavin Chisholm’s Historic spec. Escort Mk2 is continuing to make its presence felt at the business end of the Silver Star table, while Jonathan Jones / Jez Rogers’ Fiesta R2 not only provides some front-wheel drive opposition to the ubiquitous Escorts but also – unsurprisingly! – leads the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup at this juncture.

Although they’ve only contested two events so far, Michael McDaid / Declan Casey (Escort RS1800) have claimed maximum Silver Star and Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup points on both occasions. They’ll be on parade in Ludlow and, based on past performance, could significantly improve their standing in both categories! While, even now, it would be a brave man to bet against Inglis / Chisholm’s success in this year’s Historic Cup, the presence of the likes of Alex Waterman / Glyn Thomas (Datsun 1600SSS) and Jonathan Brace / Paul Spooner (Escort) could well serve to liven up the proceedings!

Although Billy Grew {pictured left] has already made sure that the BTRDA Rallye R2 Junior Cup will be residing in Stafford for the next twelve months, the fate of the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup, itself, is far less certain. As mentioned, Jones / Rogers lead the charge but such is the nature of the competition that, on paper at least, any one of the top seven drivers could claim the trophy. Four different winners from the five events so far (Tony Simpson / Ian Bevan are the only crew with two maximums to their credit) leave everything to play for – and no doubt it will be!…

                   Tony Simpson / Ian Bevan looking for a 3rd maximum  >>>

With the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally First Cup already secured, Lewis Hooper’s grip on the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Championship in his Nissan Micra [see image below] is such that, whatever happens on the Woodpecker Stages, his position at the top of the table won’t alter.

 

However, that doesn’t mean to say that his work is done. Richard Garnett / Stefan Arndt and Ed James / Charlie Mason (both Micras) are his nearest rivals but, with three events to go, a possible 90 points are still to be claimed which, at the risk of stating the obvious, could significantly alter the look of the leaderboard when it matters most!

Pete Gorst / Mark Twiname’s run of three consecutive maximums came to an abrupt halt on the Nicky Grist Stages when, well on their way to a fourth, their Nova left the road on the final stage. Although no threat in terms of outright Championship victory, the regulars are joined by 2021 Bronze Star Champion Steve Black (Suzuki Swift) and former front-runners Dave & Freddy Brick (Nova) whose farm overlooks Ludlow Racecourse!….

Having been standing at ease since the Kielder Forest Rally in mid-June, contenders for the Motorsport UK English Rally Championship, in association with Seacon UK, report for duty on the Woodpecker Stages once more. Following the first couple of rounds, Nick Dobson (Escort Mk2) has established a slender one-point lead in the series but, with four events to go, the Ilkley driver knows he will have his work cut out to maintain station.

Dobson’s nearest rival David Crossen (Escort) is absent on this occasion which turns the spotlight on to Richard Hill (Lancer EVO9) and former English Rally Champion Ian Joel (Escort Cosworth). However, in the class-based series, the competition will be very close and, literally, anything can happen between now and the beginning of December.

SPECTATORS : The first car leaves Ludlow Racecourse at 8.30am on the Saturday morning and full details can be found at www.woodpecker-rally.co.uk

All photos © Kevin Money / Malcolm Almond

PAYNE’S KILLER INSTINCT !…

Preview of Round 5 : Nicky Grist Stages (9th July)
Elliot Payne has won the last two rounds of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series with displays of speed and skill that defy his 19 years. With 2019 British Rally Champion Codriver Patrick Walsh installed in his Fiesta Rally2, Payne heads for Builth Wells and the Nicky Grist Stages with the express intention of making it three-in-a-row. However, as is ever the case, there will be others present in the massive 160 car entry, with a different ‘take’ on the situation!…     The featured image is Elliot Payne / Patrick Walsh (Fiesta Rally2) – Winners of the Border Counties & Kielder Forest Rallies

Unlike their rivals, MRF Tyres BTRDA Gold Star® Championship leaders Perry Gardener / Jack Bowen (Fiesta R5) have maintained a 100% finishing record thus far, with 4th place on the recent Kielder Forest Rally representing their lowest score. The pressure is already on for this likeable pair to keep up the momentum as, once dropped scores come into play (following the Woodpecker Stages at the beginning of September), any maximums will really pay dividends…The other two similarly Fiesta-mounted crews with BTRDA Series victories under their belts this season are Stephen Petch / Michael Wilkinson (Malcolm Wilson Rally) and Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear (Rallynuts Stages) and, in common with Payne/Walsh, each has one dropped score although, in Hirst/Dear’s case, it was a ‘Did Not Start’ as Declan was far too busy getting married on the day of the Kielder Forest Rally !….

                                                            Stephen Petch & Michael Wilkinson on the Kielder Forest Rally  >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

As far as Tom Llewellin / Ross Whittock are concerned, they’ve opted to contest the British Rally Championship section of the Nicky Grist Stages which includes a recce and, as such, precludes them from scoring BTRDA points. We wish them well and look forward to welcoming them back into the fold later in the season. There’s still time!….
While Payne Junior was going about his business on the Kielder Forest Rally, dad Charlie and co-driver Carl Williamson (Fiesta Rally2) were lying 6th after the first stage but had retired before the end of the next one, having been caught out by a crest in Bewshaugh. The 2016 Gold Star Champions’ refettled car will take the start of the Nicky Grist Stages in the hope of some better luck!

Richard Hill / Pat Cooper’s impressive season so far sees their Lancer EVO9 currently occupying 2nd place overall in the Gold Star table and, unsurprisingly, leading Class B13 as well. Having ‘won’ the two previous rounds, Russ Thompson / Steve Link retired from the Kielder Forest Rally after a big accident and, points-wise, have fallen back into the clutches of fellow Lancer crews Darren Craig / Harry Stubbs and Pat Naylor / Ian Lawrence.

Although MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star® Championship leader Nick Dobson (Escort Mk2) has a 23-point lead over his nearest

<<<<<  Photo of Nick Dobson on the Kielder Forest Rally 

challenger John Cribbins – whose co-driver, Colin Blunt, leads the Silver Star co-drivers table – they all know that the situation can change in the blink of an eye. With a maximum of 30 points available on every event, at the halfway stage of the season, there’s no such thing as a comfort zone!  Rob Wright / Mark Fisher (Escort), who forfeited top spot following retirement last time out, know that only too well – however, the upside to that is another good score (they’ve already taken one maximum), allied to any sort of problem that might affect Dobson, could conceivably – to their way of thinking – restore the status quo!  What they all need to be wary of, however, is that David Crossen, who has only contested two events so far but scored maximums on both, will be taking the start of the Nicky Grist Stages in his rapid Escort!…

Having suffered the indignity of a retirement on the Border Counties Rally, fortunately without affecting their Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup lead, Grant Inglis / Gavin Chisholm (Escort Mk2) returned to their winning ways in Kielder. Nevertheless, Ernie & Patricia Lee (BMW 325i) could yet prove to be a thorn in their side, not to mention a returning Alex Waterman / Glyn Thomas in their Datsun 1600 SSS and, surely, James Lepley / Arwel Jenkins’ (Escort) luck has to change soon…

                                          Grant Inglis & Gavin Chisholm (Escort) – Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup Leaders   >>>>>>

Four events have each produced different winners in the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup and they’re all be in mid Wales on 9th July. Yaniv Bar took first blood, followed by Mat Jackson, Tony Simpson and, most recently, Jonathan Jones.

<<<<  Jonathan Jones (Fiesta R2) on the Kielder Forest Rally

Their Fiestas are joined by the Peugeot 208 of Scott Sloan and Lucy Wigley’s Citroen C2 and, should Billy Grew (Fiesta) continue his winning ways in the BTRDA Rallye R2 Junior Cup, he’ll be crowned champion at the end of the day!

After a shaky start that resulted in retirement from the Malcolm Wilson Rally, Pete Gorst / Mark Twiname (pictured [right > ] in their Nova on the Kielder Forest Rally) have totally dominated the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Championship by taking three maximums on the spin. That said, Lewis Hooper has stayed out of trouble and brought his Nissan Micra through to the finish of every event so far to maintain his lead of both the Bronze Star and BTRDA Rally First Cup. This time, the competition is set to be spiced up not only with the addition of 2021 Bronze Star Champions Steve Black / Paul Morris (Suzuki Swift) but also by the return of Aaron Rix / Abi Haycock (Escort) who haven’t been seen since their earlier-than-planned exit from the Rallynuts Stages.

SPECTATORS: The first car leaves Builth Wells at 8.30am on Saturday morning and full details can be found at : http://www.nickygriststages.co.uk/spectators/

All photos © Kevin Money / Malcolm Almond
AH/010722

WHOSE ROUND IS IT?

Preview of Round 4: Kielder Forest Rally (18th June)
The first three rounds of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series have each produced different winners and, as crews converge on Hexham for the Kielder Forest Rally, the burning question is ‘are we going to see a repeat performance from a particular crew – or will yet another pair of names be added to the 2022 BTRDA Gold Star ‘Roll of Honour’?…

Rallynuts Stages winner Matthew Hirst will not be among those vying for top spot on this occasion as the Kielder Forest Rally clashes with the wedding of his co-driver, Declan Dear! So, while those immortal words ‘I do’ will be heard in a certain part of Surrey, the Auction Mart in Hexham is more likely to echo to the sound of ‘I could’ from Hirst/Dear’s rivals as they seek to capitalise on their absence!

<<<<<    Matthew Hirst/Declan Dear’s Fiesta R5 – An Unlikely Wedding Car?…

Elliot Payne and Patrick Walsh (Fiesta Rally2) shown in the featured image, were victorious last time out on the Border Counties Rally and Stephen Petch / Michael Wilkinson (Fiesta) also have a victory under their belts this season – their Fiesta triumphed on the Malcolm Wilson Rally. However, as crews arrive in the north-east, Perry Gardener / Jack Bowen (Fiesta R5) hold the Gold Star bragging rights – just! Three third-place finishes see them two points ahead of the absent Hirst/Dear and Russ Thompson / Steve Link whose Lancer EVO9 rules the roost in Class B13, also by the narrowest of margins!

Tom Llewellin / Ross Whittock, who were leading the Border Counties Rally prior to their ‘off’ on their first outing in an R5 Fiesta, are back for more, while Ian Bainbridge / Will Atkins (Skoda Fabia) have also previously lead a BTRDA Series round – it can only be a matter of time before each crew attains the top step of an event podium. 2016 Gold Star Champions Charlie Payne / Carl Williamson (Fiesta Rally2) have already ‘been there, done that’ and cannot be discounted from further success, even if Payne Junior is currently attracting most of the attention in that particular household!
With the BTRDA Rally Series scoring set at six (best) from eight (events), everyone is allowed a degree of leeway in terms of choice – or, as is more often the case, a couple of non-finishes! – without afflicting lasting damage to their campaigns. In Class B13, while Thompson / Link are marginally ahead of Richard Hill / Pat Cooper (also Lancer EVO9), the normally reliable Escort Cosworth of former Motorsport UK English Rally Champions Ian Joel / Graeme Wood has recorded two consecutive DNFs such that, with less than half the season done, it already finds itself in the last-chance saloon and cannot afford any further errors – no matter at whose door the fault is deemed to lie!..

With all due respect to Rob Wright and Mark Fisher, whose Escort Mk2 leads the MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star® Championship following the Border Counties Rally, no-one has yet grasped the series by the scruff of the neck and, as with Gold Star, we’ve seen different winners on each event so far, even if Escorts do appear to be the vehicle of choice!…

                                        Rob Wright/Mark Fisher (Escort) – MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star Championship Leaders  >>>>

Nick Dobson’s Escort occupies runner-up spot while, hoping for a good season following the disaster that was 2021, Andy Davison / Tom Murphy are experiencing persistent trials and tribulations with their Talbot Sunbeam VXR, leaving them just outside the Top Ten at this stage. It’s also good to welcome the return of 2011 Silver Star Champion Allan McDowall whose past mastery of his 2.5 litre Escort was such that the words ‘cat’ and ‘pigeons’ spring to mind!….

Fortunately for them, Grant Inglis / Gavin Chisholm’s attraction to the scenery – and subsequent retirement – on the Border Counties Rally hasn’t affected their Escort’s position at the head of the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup. However, the presence in Kielder of Ernie & Patricia Lee (BMW 325i) and Kris Hopkins (Triumph TR7 V8) – both class winners last time out – will possibly preclude a recurrence of such a liberty! Rejoining the fray following their absence from Jedburgh, James Lepley / Arwel Jenkins will also be looking for an opportunity to get up close and personal with the category leaders in their own Escort.

 

<<<<<<<< Tony Simpson/Ian Bevan (Fiesta R2)

Maintaining the theme of different winners on each event, Tony Simpson / Ian Bevan took their turn in the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup on the Border Counties, ahead of Jonathan Jones / Jez Rogers. Yaniv Bar / Osian Owen’s 3rd place on the day was sufficient to keep them at the top of the table, while all three Fiesta-mounted crews will be joined by a returning Scott & David Sloan (Peugeot 208) and BTRDA Rallye R2 Junior Cup leaders Billy Grew / Simon Rogers (Fiesta).

Hopefully, by now, Pete Gorst / Mark Twiname will have got their breath back, having had to push their Nova over the finish line in Jedburgh in order to claim maximum Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Championship points for the second consecutive time!  The car’s fuel pump had failed on the run in to the final control, causing some ‘heartstopping’ moments as the crew was forced to resort to any means possible to cover the final few yards – all caught on camera by Special Stage, even though the interview with Paul Woodford had to wait until Pete was able to speak once more!…

                                                       The Gorst / Twiname Nova at full stretch – with the aid of a functioning fuel pump!…  >>>>>

Avoiding any such excitement, Lewis Hooper’s Rally First Nissan Micra continues to sweep all before it, both in terms of the overall Fuchs Lubricants Championship and, unsurprisingly, the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally First Cup. Edward James / Charlie Mason (Micra Kit Car) and Richard Garnett / Stefan Arndt (Micra) are keeping in touch with Lewis in front while, at the same time, watching in their rear-view mirrors for Gorst / Twiname who are currently on a charge!

Having been ‘resting’ since mid-March, contenders for the Motorsport UK English Rally Championship, in association with Seacon UK, return to active duty on the Kielder Forest Rally. Joint leaders preparing to slug it out in an attempt to establish dominance in this ‘class based’ championship include Stephen Petch (Fiesta), Richard Hill (Lancer EVO9), Nick Dobson (Escort) and Yaniv Bar (Fiesta R2). However, as they set off on their merry way, their enthusiasm may well be tempered by the knowledge that just two points behind are a further half-dozen drivers who still have, potentially, five more opportunities to unseat them!…

SPECTATORS: The first car leaves Chipchase Castle at 9.00am on the Saturday morning and full details on locations/pricing can be found at: https://kielderforestrally.co.uk/spectators-timetable/
All photos © Kevin Money & Malcolm Almond.

AH 10/06

COUNTY LINES EXTENDED!…

The MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series hasn’t included the stages in the south of Scotland or Tweed Valley forests in its itinerary for many years but now, with the addition of the Brick & Steel Border Counties Rally to its 2022 calendar, there will be some crews visiting what, for them, is an entirely new area.
In the race for the MRF Tyres BTRDA Gold Star® Championship crown – which, thanks to the efforts of Euan Thorburn and Garry Pearson, has remained north of the border since 2019 – Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear (Fiesta R5) arrive in Jedburgh as current leaders. Their win last time out on the Rallynuts Stages puts them marginally ahead of Perry Gardener / Jack Bowen (Fiesta R5) and the Skoda Fabia of Ian Bainbridge who is reunited with co-driver Will Atkins once more.

                                                                                                                               Perry Gardener / Jack Bowen >>>

With two Top Ten finishes already, Tom Llewellin / Ross Whittock (Mitsubishi Mirage) maintain a watching brief and, with six events still to run, are ideally placed to mount a serious challenge as the season progresses.
Title photo is of Matthew Hirst & Declan Dear (Fiesta R5) – BTRDA Gold Star Championship Leaders on the Rallynuts Stages

Meanwhile, with mixed fortunes to date, 2017 Gold Star Champions Stephen Petch / Michael Wilkinson (Fiesta – 1st/DNF) and Elliot Payne / Patrick Walsh (Fiesta Rally2 -DNF/2nd) also have ample time to move their campaigns forward. That said, a good result in the Borders would, nevertheless, be very welcome!…

The Mitsubishi Lancers of Russ Thompson / Steve Link and Richard Hill / Pat Cooper are inseparable at the business end of Class B13 and, while Ian Joel / Graeme Wood (Escort Cosworth) and Pat Naylor / Ian Lawrence (Lancer EVO9) posed serious threats on the Malcolm Wilson Rally, neither crew made the finish of the Rallynuts Stages. All four vehicles are reporting for duty on Round 3 and, thus, a battle royal can be expected as this one moves a step closer to sorting itself out.

<<<<  Russ Thompson / Steve Link (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9) – Joint Class B13 Leaders

 

        Trevor Gamble / Phil Kenny trying a bit too hard!   >>>

 

The Escorts of Nick Dobson and Grant Inglis / Gavin Chisholm hold sway in the MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star® Championship, with the 2.5 litre version of Rob Wright / Mark Fisher uncomfortably close as we move into the second quarter of the season. Neither David Crossen nor Michael McDaid – maximum points scorers on Rounds 1 & 2 respectively – are making the journey across the Irish Sea on this occasion but, with considerably less miles to travel, Middlesbrough’s Andy Davison and co-driver Tom Murphy have replaced the wheel that went AWOL from their Talbot Sunbeam VXR and caused retirement from the Rallynuts Stages, and will be hoping for a return to the form shown on the Malcolm Wilson Rally!
Following a fraught – and foreshortened! – outing in Cumbria, Tom Naylor / Tom Bishop renew their attempts to bring a front-wheel drive car to the fore in the 2WD category of the BTRDA Rally Series on the Border Counties Rally. Their Fiesta ST fits the bill, but they’ll be mindful of the old adage ‘to finish first’ etc, etc!…

Grant Inglis / Gavin Chisholm’s Escort leads the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup, while the return of Malcolm Wilson Rally class winners Alex Waterman / Glyn Thomas in their Datsun 1600 SSS adds spice – not to mention variety! – to the category. Having failed to make it back to Penrith on the season-opener, Ernie & Patricia Lee’s BMW 325 is having another attempt at opening its scoring this time…

<<<<<<<<<<<  Grant Inglis/Gavin Chisholm (Escort) – BTRDA Historic Cup Leaders on the Malcolm Wilson Rally 

After two rounds, the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup sees Yaniv Bar / Osian Owen (Fiesta) a handful of points ahead of the Peugeot 208 of Scott & David Sloan. A brace of Fiestas crewed by Tony Simpson / Ian Bevan and Jonathan Jones / Jez Rogers finished just two seconds apart last time and, so, it’s fair to assume that at least one of them will be trying to reverse the order in Scotland!

Billy Grew (Fiesta R2 pictured right) was less than a minute behind Yaniv Bar on the Rallynuts Stages and leads the BTRDA Rallye R2 Junior Cup, while Midlanders Lucy Wigley / Emma Cooper (Citroen C2 R2) are following up their maiden outing in Wales with a trip to Scotland.

 

Pete Gorst / Mark Twiname’s 1400cc Vauxhall Nova proved to be the class of the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Championship field on the Rallynuts Stages but, as that was its first outing this season, it not unnaturally finds itself behind a number of other crews who’ve racked up two scores so far, namely Lewis Hooper, Edward James / Charlie Mason and Richard Garnett / Stefan Arndt. The Alfasud TI of Dale Glover / Sean Ward is set to join the regulars in Scotland with the express intention of showing the above trio of Nissan Micras a clean pair of heels!

Lewis Hooper’s mastery of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally First Cup (two maximums from two starts) is such that, whatever happens on the Border Counties Rally, his position at the head of the table is safe – for the time being at any rate!…

                       Lewis Hooper (Nissan Micra) – BTRDA Bronze Star Championship & Rally First Cup Leader    >>>>>

The Brick & Steel Border Counties Rally takes in six special stages, totalling approximately 45 miles, and the first car leaves the start in Jedburgh at 8.30am on Saturday 14th May.
Prospective spectators should consult www.bordercountiesrally.co.uk/spectators/

AH 07/05.   All photos © Kevin Money & Malc Almond

GATHERING NUTS IN…..APRIL!…

Running as the final round of the 2021 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series last November, the Rallynuts Stages returns to its traditional April date this year and prepares to welcome a bumper 150-car entry to the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells.  Following their victory on the Malcolm Wilson Rally, Stephen Petch / Michael Wilkinson [main photo] in their Fiesta Rally2 head for mid Wales as MRF Tyres BTRDA Gold Star® Championship leaders. It goes without saying that they’ll be hoping to consolidate their advantage but defending Rallynuts winners, Elliot Payne / Patrick Walsh (Fiesta Rally2), have yet to open their current account and will be aiming to steal a march on their rivals. Then there’s Ian Bainbridge / Will Atkins, whose Fabia R5 was runner-up in the Lake District after setting a couple of FTDs during the day, and Perry Gardener / Jack Bowen (Fiesta R5) who arrived at the Penrith finish of the opening round a mere 8s behind the Skoda after 44 miles of stages….

                                                                                                                                             Perry Gardener / Jack Bowen >>>>>

A few crews have been doing some extra homework prior to the BTRDA Series’ first trip of the year to Wales by contesting the recent non-Championship Rally North Wales – Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear (Fiesta R5) won it and Tom Llewellin’s R5 Mitsubishi Mirage was 3rd.  So, when it comes to match fitness, they should each be on top of their game!… Richard Hill / Pat Cooper (Lancer EVO9) claimed the early-season advantage in Class B13 but, at the same time, won’t need reminding that Russ Thompson / Steve Link (Lancer), Ian Joel / Graeme Wood (Escort Cosworth) and Pat Naylor / Ian Lawrence (Lancer) were all in close attendance by the finish. Likewise, they’ll not be far apart as they leave Builth Wells at the start of Chapter 2….

For Ulsterman David Crossen’s assault on the MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star® Championship, the journey from his home in Lisbane to the Malcolm Wilson Rally was one of the shortest of the season. However, it proved to be well worth the effort as, by the time he boarded the return ferry, he’d taken a class win by nearly a minute-and-a-half and his Escort was sitting atop the Championship points table! David’s presence in Builth Wells for the Rallynuts Stages requires a considerably longer road trip, but the object of the exercise is exactly the same!

< David Crossen – MFT Tyres BTRDA Silver Star Championship leader

Rob Wright / Mark Fisher >>>>

Rob Wright / Mark Fisher (Escort Mk2) and Andy Davison / Tom Murphy (Talbot Sunbeam VXR), his nearest challengers in Cumbria, will be of a similar mind and, among others, they’ll be joined by former Silver Star runner-up and Champion Ashley Davies / Sam Fordham in their Escort Mk2.

Leading Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup driver Grant Inglis (Escort) and codriver Hannah McKillop each resume their campaigns and will be joined by the Escort Mk2s of defending Champions Paul Street / Ian Jones and newcomer James Lepley, codriven by Arwel Jenkins, who, through absence and retirement from the opening round, will be hoping to come away with a suitable haul of points to start the ball rolling!…

Yaniv Bar / Osian Owen (Fiesta) came up trumps in the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup on the Malcolm Wilson Rally, while Billy Grew / Simon Rogers’ efforts to emulate their success in the BTRDA Rallye R2 Junior Cup were thwarted by a broken gearbox which led to their Fiesta’s retirement.

<<<<<   Yaniv Bar/Osian Owen (Fiesta R2) – BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup Leaders

Scott & David Sloan’s Peugeot 208, which bore the scars of combat by the end of its high-speed run through the Lake District, still managed runner-up spot and now lines up with Lucy Wigley / Emma Cooper’s Citroen C2 and Jonathan Jones / Jez Rogers’ Fiesta in order to challenge the current leaders’ status!

Following the retirement of several of the fancied runners in the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Championship last time out, Lewis Hooper’s Rally First-spec. Nissan Micra grasped the opportunity to claim victory and, now, both car and driver will need to be on top form to produce a repeat performance!  Among those with the avowed intent of preventing them from achieving their goal, Dave & Toby Brick (Nova), Aaron Rix / Abi Haycock (Escort) and runners-up last time, Gary Scott / James Hedges (Proton Satria) will obviously have their work cut out in mid Wales.

Class 1400C is, thus far, the preserve of Nissan Micras, with Alfie Hammond and Richard Garnett showing the others the way home, while a broken engine mounting saw to it that the Ford Ka of Adrian & Matt Walk wouldn’t be joining them on the finish ramp on that occasion. So, seconds out, Round 2….
Lewis Hooper obviously holds sway in the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally First Cup but, at this early stage of the season, there’s still plenty of time for that – and everything else! – to change between now and the end of October…

SPECTATORS : The first car leaves the Showground at 8.00am on the Saturday morning and full details on locations/pricing can be found at www.rallynutsrally.co.uk/spectators/

On-line Registration: BTRDA annual club membership is £30 which gives automatic eligibility to all BTRDA Rally Series and English Rally Championship events. The BTRDA Rally Series registration fee also includes registration for the Motorsport UK 2022 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 2022 for their first year of registration.

Log in to the membership website www.btrdamembership.com  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.

All photos © Kevin Money

AH/010422

FULL TO THE BRIM.!…

The Lake District is bracing itself for the influx of competitors making a beeline for MSport’s premises at Dovenby for the start of the Malcolm Wilson Rally (12th March), the  opening round of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series and Motorsport UK English Rally Championship in association with Seacon UK. The organisers have attracted a bumper entry which, following the trials and tribulations of the past couple of years, sets a very encouraging precedent for the forthcoming season. From the MRF Tyres BTRDA Gold Star® Championship point of view, by their very presence in Cumbria, there are a considerable number of crews whose sights are set on succeeding Garry Pearson/Niall Burns to the title.

Charlie Payne and Carl Williamson (Fiesta) won the Malcolm Wilson Rally back in 2016 on their way to claiming the Gold Star crown that same year, while fellow former champions Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson (Fiesta) took maximum BTRDA points the last time the event ran in 2020. Ian Bainbridge / Will Atkins (Skoda Fabia R5) have previously led a BTRDA round but are yet to translate their speed into outright victory, while Damian Cole (Fiesta R5+) is a proven winner on asphalt but has still to reach the top step of a Gravel Series podium.
Moving on to a section entitled ‘Sons of their Fathers’, we’ve already mentioned Stephen Petch but we also find Elliot Payne / Patrick Walsh (Fiesta Rally2), Perry Gardener / Jack Bowen (Fiesta R5) and Tom Llewellin / Ross Whittock (Mitsubishi Mirage) each with designs on perpetuating their families’ past success, both within BTRDA and beyond…

Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear are another crew pinning their hopes of success on a Fiesta this season, as are 2016 BTRDA 1400 Champions Jordan & Paul Hone, from Northern Ireland, who return for a crack at Gold Star!  A brace of Hyundai i20 R5s for John Wink and former Group N front-runner Roland Llewellin further add to the variety. George Lepley, who made sure nobody else got a look-in when it came to Class B13 last year, has moved on to pastures new – although his younger brother James will be contesting the Silver Star Championship in an Escort… Nevertheless, all the signs are that B13 will be as competitive as ever, with a fine array of Mitsubishi Lancers in the hands of former BTRDA Production Cup winners Russ Thompson (who finished 3rd overall on the 2020 Malcolm Wilson Rally!) and Pat Naylor / Ian Lawrence, plus those of Richard Hill and, back after a couple of seasons away, Petr Krizan / Lukas Sintal. The
Escort Cosworth of 2018 Motorsport UK English Rally Champions Ian Joel / Graeme Wood can never be discounted and there will be a handful of Subaru Imprezas intent on keeping them all on their toes!

For those inclined to take a punt, when it comes to predicting the front-runners in the MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star® Championship, there’s quite possibly some money to be made! Owen McMackin’s Escort came good in 2021 but the Irishman’s defence of his title won’t start just yet. So, after such a successful 2019, Andy Davison / Tom Murphy (Talbot Sunbeam VXR) suffered a complete reversal of fortune last year but, undaunted, they’re back to challenge the ever-present Escorts represented by, for example, Rob Wright / Mark Fisher, Terry Pankhurst / Jamie Sparks and Nick Dobson / Phil Sandham.
                                                                                                           Andy Davison/Tom Murphy (Talbot Sunbeam VXR)   >>>

It’s been a while since a front-wheel drive car won the Silver Star title but that doesn’t preclude such a vehicle from doing so again!  The Fiesta STs of Max Utting and reigning BTRDA Rally First® Champion Tom Naylor could prove to be prime candidates when it comes to upsetting the apple cart!..
Based on previous experience, any predictions in respect of the successful runners and riders in the BTRDA Silver Star Championship must include contenders for the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup and BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup & BTRDA R2 Junior Cup as well. Baz Jordan / Arwel Jenkins’ Hillman Avenger is joined by the aforementioned James Lepley, co-driven by Liam Whiteley, in an Escort Mk2, 1997 BTRDA Silver Star Champion Warren Philliskirk’s MkI RS1600 and an interesting addition this year in the shape of a Datsun 1600SSS for Alex Waterman / Glyn Thomas.

Fiestas are the mainstay of the BTRDA R2 Cup with Tony Simpson / Ian Bevan, Billy Grew / Simon Rogers and Jonathan Jones / Jez Rogers relying on the Blue Oval, while Scott & David Sloan have opted for a Peugeot 208 and it’s a Citroen C2R2 Max for Lucy Wigley / Emma Cooper.

<<<   Dave & Toby Brick (1400cc Nova)

Dave & Toby Brick return to the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Rally Championship in their flying 1400cc Nova in an attempt to wrest the title that has, thus far, eluded them. Opposition this year comes in various different forms, viz. a Proton Satria for Gary Scott / James Hedges, Dale Glover / Sean Ward’s Alfasud Ti, Edward James / Charlie Mason (Nissan Micra Kit Car) and another Nova for Pete Gorst.

Adrian & Matt Walk, who stole the headlines on last year’s Woodpecker Stages by taking their Class 1400C Ford Ka to maximum Bronze Star points, are back and have Richard Garnett / Stefan Arndt (Nissan Micra) and the Talbot Samba of Mat & Dan Evans for company this time. The MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally First® Cup is also testament to variety being the spice of life! Lewis Hooper (Nissan Micra), Jacob Neal’s Vauxhall Corsa and a Peugeot 107 for James Lightfoot will all take the start in Dovenby.

The Malcolm Wilson Rally is also the opening encounter in the Motorsport UK English Rally Championship in association with Seacon UK and, following the unfortunate curtailment of both the 2020 & 2021 Series, an evenly spread six-round calendar concludes on the Grizedale Stages in early December. All BTRDA Rally Series registered competitors are automatically eligible for the class-based series as the race to succeed 2019 winner Steve Black (1400cc Suzuki Swift) begins.

On-line Registration:  BTRDA annual membership is £30 which gives automatic eligibility to all BTRDA Rally Series and English Rally Championship events. The BTRDA Rally Series registration fee also includes registration for the Motorsport UK 2022 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 2022 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.

For details of the Malcolm Wilson Rally : www.malcolmwilson.co.uk      All photos © Kevin Money

STARS IN THEIR EYES..!

With the Awards Presentation for the 2021 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series having taken place just over a week ago, all eyes now turn to the start of the new season which begins with the Malcolm Wilson Rally on Saturday 12th March, and, not unnaturally, who the recipients of the 2022 BTRDA Gold®, Silver® & Bronze® Stars might possibly be.

2021 Gold Star Champions Garry Pearson and Niall Burns have expressed their desire to move on to a full British Rally Championship assault and we wish them well in their endeavours. A glance at the unseeded list of entries for the Malcolm Wilson Rally tells us that the number of possible successors is considerable…. Let’s start with a couple of crews who’ve already been thereStephen Petch / Michael Wilkinson (2017) and Charlie Payne / Carl Williamson (2016) who are maintaining their allegiance to Ford Fiestas and are set to be joined by the likes of Elliot Payne / Patrick Walsh, Perry Gardener / Jack Bowen, Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear and multiple former Asphalt Champion Damian Cole in similar cars.

                                                                                                                      Ellliot Payne / Patrick Walsh (Fiesta Rally2)   >>>>

Hoping that a R5 Skoda Fabia can maintain its winning streak at this level are Ian Bainbridge / Will Atkins (see main photo) while John Wink / Neil Shanks (Hyundai i20) and a returning Tom Llewellin / Ross Whittock (Mitsubishi Mirage) will each be harbouring thoughts diametrically opposed to those!… A further brace of Fiesta R5’s in the hands of Trevor Gamble and Eddie Lewis are joined by a second Hyundai for one-time Mitsubishi Group N front-runner Roland Llewellin.  It seems as if the B13 class will be more competitive than ever with Richard Hill, Russ Thompson, Ian Joel, Peter Bayliss and Pat Naylor being joined by many more competitive Subaru’s and Evo’s.

When it comes to the two-wheel drive brigade, contenders for last year’s MRF Tyres Silver Star Championship were often also chasing Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup points and, on occasions, the BTRDA R2 & R2 Junior Cup as well!  Owen McMackin’s big-engined Escort eventually prevailed and, while the Irishman is unable to contest the opening round of the 2022 Series, the defence of his title is expected to begin shortly.  Having had a season to forget last year, Andy Davison and Tom Murphy – who were Silver Star runner-up and Champion respectively in 2019 – are back with their rapid Talbot Sunbeam VXR.  2.5 litre Escorts are the order of the day for Rob Wright / Mark Fisher and Terry Pankhurst / Jamie Sparks, while Nick Dobson, Neil Andrew and James Lepley – younger brother of George – are pinning their hopes on smaller capacity versions.

                                                                                                                                   Rob Wright / Mark Fisher (Ford Escort Mk2)  >>>>>>

While on the subject of families, 2021 BTRDA Rally First Champion Tom Naylor – son of former BTRDA Production Cup winner Pat Naylor, who is now running his Mitsubishi Lancer in Class B13 – is moving on to a 2-litre Fiesta ST in an attempt to wrest the Silver Star trophy from the rear-wheel drive contingent but the favourite for that task may be Max Utting in his Fiesta ST MAX.  As far as the R2’s are concerned, both ‘Senior’ & Junior, it’s encouraging to see the variety of different manufacturers producing cars that fit the bill. In addition to Fiestas for Billy Grew / Simon Rogers, Tony Simpson / Ian Bevan, Yaniv Bar / Osian Owen and Jonathan Jones / Jez Rogers, we have Lucy Wigley / Emma Cooper’s Citroen C2 and a Peugeot 208 for Scott & David Sloan.

 

Long-time BTRDA Rally Series supporters Baz Jordan / Arwel Jenkins are back in their Historic spec. Hillman Avenger to do battle with, among others, David Gathercole / Martyn Donn’s MkI
Escort. An interesting addition to the ranks of this year’s BTRDA Historic Cup contenders is the Datsun 1600SSS of Glyn Thomas / Alex Waterman.

<<<<<< Baz Jordan / Arwel Jenkins (Hillman Avenger)

 

The Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA 1400 Championship, the winners of which are awarded BTRDA Bronze Stars, has become renowned for the out-and-out speed and level of competitiveness exhibited by contenders for the title!  One should never be fooled into thinking that, as the cars are only 1400cc, there’s ‘nothing to see here’!  Some years ago Elfyn Evans joined in at the wheel of a Nissan Micra and triple British Rally Champion Matt Edwards won the series outright in 2010 in an MG ZR!
The 1400 Championship is another element of the BTRDA Series that attracts a wide range of cars to its ranks.  At the time of writing – and in no particular order – entries have been received from Edward James (Nissan Micra Kit Car), Paddy Homan (Ford Puma), Aaron Rix (Ford Escort), Kris Farrell (Proton Satria) and Pete Gorst & Dave Brick (both Vauxhall Novas).

The aforementioned speed of these cars, not unsurprisingly, caused dramas on occasions leaving crews to reflect on the old adage that ‘to finish first, you must first finish’! ‘Keeping their heads while those around etc etc.’ paid dividends for Adrian & Matt Walk during 2021 as their 1400C Ford Ka came out on top of the category on the Woodpecker Stages and 2nd on the Cambrian Rally. They’re back for more of the same and will have a number of Nissan Micras and the Talbot Samba of Mat & Dan Evans for company.

<<<<<   Adrian & Matt Walk (1400cc Ford Ka)

So, fingers crossed for a full eight-round Series in 2022! We can’t wait and, judging by the number of entries received by the Malcolm Wilson Rally organisers, we’re not the only ones!….

All photos © Kevin Money & Malcolm Almond

On-line Registration:  BTRDA annual membership is £30 which gives automatic eligibility to all BTRDA Rally Series and English Rally Championship events. The BTRDA Rally Series registration fee also includes registration for the Motorsport UK 2022 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 2022 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.