News

A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY !….

Round 2: Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages (13th April)

2024 marks the 50th running of Midland Manor Motor Club’s Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages and, to help celebrate this milestone, the second round of the Protyre BTRDA Rally Series has attracted a capacity entry! Victory on the season-opening Malcolm Wilson Rally sees Elliot Payne and Patrick Walsh (Fiesta Rally2) arriving in mid-Wales as leaders of the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Gold Star® Rally Championship, but they’ll be perfectly well aware that, as yet, nothing can be taken for granted…
(The featured image is Elliot Payne & Patrick Walsh (Fiesta Rally2) – the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Gold Star Rally Championship Leaders, on the Malcolm Wilson Rally). 

Elliot also won’t need reminding that his runner-up spot on last year’s event came just one second ahead of 3rd-placed Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear (Fiesta R5) who are back for more as well. However, having only managed a 10th place finish on the Malcolm Wilson, Hirst / Dear find themselves behind Class B13 leaders Russ Thompson / Steve Link (Lancer EVO9), runner-up last time out Vivian Hamill (VW Polo R5) and the Fiesta R5s of Scott Beattie / Peredur Davies and Daniel Sigurdarson in the points table.

All of the above feature in the Severn Valley entry list, as do Liam Clark / Emily Easton-Page (Fiesta Rally2) who finished a matter of seconds behind Hirst/Dear last time out, while Perry Gardener and Jack Bowen (Fiesta R5) will be hoping for the opportunity to open their Gold Star account following a DNF in Cumbria. From different perspectives, but with similar aims, newcomers to the BTRDA Series Gunnar Johannesson / Isak Gudjonsson (Fiesta R5) and vastly-experienced returnees Pat Naylor / Ian Lawrence (Lancer EVO9) will both relish the opportunity to improve their standings as the season reaches its one-quarter distance.

<<< Andy Davison/Tom Murphy (Sunbeam VXR) – Protyre BTRDA Silver Star Rally Championship Leaders

Andy Davison and Tom Murphy (Sunbeam VXR) came up trumps in the Protyre BTRDA Silver Star® Championship on the Malcolm Wilson and, as class winners on last year’s Rallynuts, will be justifiably full of confidence when it comes to moving that situation forward. Steve Ward / Phil Sandham (Escort Mk2), who will also have one eye on the Reis Motorsport Insurance BTRDA Historic Cup, are their closest rivals, but both crews will be aware of the presence of Robert Gough in the list of entries – especially as his Escort cleaned up in both categories on the 2023 event!
For the Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages, the Historic Cup will be boosted by the presence of Jonathan Brace / Paul Spooner whose Escort had a couple of successful outings last season, while Will & Karen Graham return in the Escort RS1600 that, thanks to the efforts of Ernie Graham, holds both the 2023 Historic Cup & English Rally Championship titles.

Lewis Hooper and Rhys Edwards’ move up to the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup didn’t go according to plan on the Malcolm Wilson, leaving Agnar Sigurdsson / Valgardur Davidsson to claim top spot in their Fiesta, with Garry Whitney / Karl Keating’s version next. Maintaining the Ford dominance, all three crews will be joined by Sam Mason / James Seymour and Rally First converts Alfie Hammond / Phil Boyle in mid Wales.

                                                Nigel & Kaz Jenkins (Nova) – Defending Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Champions   >>>>

The Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Championship table may well have a different look to it by the end of the Rallynuts!  Current leader Callum Black is contesting another section of the event leaving his dad Steve Black, the 2021 Champion, to take over at the controls of the family Suzuki Swift!  Whether this plays into the hands of defending champions Nigel & Kaz Jenkins (Nova), or not, remains to be seen! Whatever, it sets the scene for a fantastic battle in which the likes of Will Banks / Matt Baddeley (Nova), Chris Greenall (Nova), Mat & Dan Evans (Peugeot 205), Ashley Francis-Adams / Mark Ammonds (Micra), & Dylan Fowler-Bishop / Dan Evans (Micra) will all be taking a very keen interest!  Dale Glover / David Smalley (Alfasud Ti) and Chris Bush / Robert Jones (Corsa), both non-finishers on the Malcolm Wilson, will be eager to turn the tide before the situation becomes even more difficult!

While contenders for the BTRDA Bronze Star Championship all have one thing in common – their respective vehicles have a maximum engine capacity of 1400cc – the class structure is split into two. The regulations governing Class 1400S permit more modifications than those for 1400C which, in basic terms, should give the former a performance advantage. However, from the foregoing list of names, Messrs Banks, Evans and Fowler-Bishop don’t appear to have read the script and are ‘mixing it’ very successfully in the battle for overall honours!

The BTRDA Rally First Cup is currently a straight fight between the Peugeot 205 GTIs of Giles Armitage / Josh Rhodes and Martin Beech / Daniel James following the aforementioned defection of first round runners-up Alfie Hammond/Phil Boyle to the ranks of R2 Cup contenders!

 

<<< Giles Armitage/Josh Rhodes (Peugeot 205) – BTRDA Rally First Cup Leaders

SPECTATORS : The first car leaves the start in Llandrindod Wells at 8.00am on Saturday morning and full details on locations/pricing can be found at www.rallynutsrally.co.uk/spectators
All photos © Kevin Money / Malcom Ammond.
AH

OUT WITH THE OLD!….

As we bid a warm welcome to Protyre, headline sponsor of the 2024 BTRDA Rally Series, and Reis Motorsport Insurance for the Motorsport UK English Rally Championship – both of which start on the Malcolm Wilson Rally – Elliot Payne, the first driver to take back-to-back BTRDA Gold Star® Championship titles for nearly thirty years, returns in an attempt to extend his run of success still further. Elliot’s familiar Fiesta Rally2 is also sporting a new livery, in deference to a change of sponsor, for the forthcoming season.

THe featured post shows Elliot Payne’s Fiesta Rally2 on its way to victory on the recent non-Championship Riponian Stages

The entry list for the Malcolm Wilson Rally runs to around 100 cars and, even at this early stage, it’s quite obvious that the ‘pretenders’ to all the major categories in both the Protyre BTRDA Rally Series and Reis Motorsport Insurance Motorsport UK English Rally Championship will have their work cut out if, by the end of the year, their campaigns are to be deemed successful!  While Elliot Payne – who is reunited with Patrick Walsh, his co-driver for his 2022 Gold Star title, this year – will, undoubtedly, be a force-to-be-reckoned-with in the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Gold Star® Championship, it would be reasonable to assume that he won’t have things all his own way. Enduring a disastrous end to last season which saw their Fiesta R5 fail to complete an event after the Nicky Grist Stages in July, proven winners at BTRDA level, Matthew Hirst and Declan Dear still finished in the Top Six Gold Star contenders!  Russ Thompson / Steve Link beat all-comers on last year’s season-ending Cambrian Rally in their Class B13 Lancer EVO9 and they are now joined by the similar car of former BTRDA Production Cup winners Pat Naylor / Ian Lawrence.

<<<   Russ Thompson/Steve Link (Lancer EVO9) – Outright Winners 2023 Cambrian Rally

Meanwhile, having also sat out 2023, Perry Gardener / Jack Bowen (Fiesta R5) return to the fold once more. Perry’s dad, Shaun, was BTRDA Gold Star Champion in 2006 and 2012, while Perry, himself, finished runner-up on his ‘home’ Woodpecker Stages last time he contested it – so, not only do the Gardener family attributes include the knowledge of what is required to be a winner, but also the wherewithal to produce the goods!…
While any discussions in respect of this year’s Gold Star could be loosely categorised as ‘possibilities’, we can definitely say that the Protyre BTRDA Silver Star® Championship trophy will have a new name on it. Current holders Ben Friend / Cliff Simmons are only undertaking a limited programme of events in 2024, leaving the way open for others to take up the cudgel. For example, 2022 Silver Star winners Rob Wright / Mark Fisher (Escort Mk2), from Whitehaven, are tackling their ‘home’ event, while Andy Davison and 2019 Silver Star Champion Co-driver Tom Murphy return in their Sunbeam VXR.

Andy Davison/Tom Murphy (Sunbeam VXR) >>>>>

Over the past couple of seasons, several front-wheel drive cars have graced the Silver Star podium on events, as have vehicles contesting what is henceforth to be known as the Reis Motorsport Insurance BTRDA Historic Cup. Endeavouring to maintain that tradition, Lewis Hooper / Rhys Edwards have forsaken their award-winning Micra in favour of a Fiesta to concentrate on the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup and they will be joined by Liam Clark / Emily Easton-Page in an as yet un-named car.
Steve Ward / Phil Sandham are targeting the Historic Cup in their Escort Mk2, as are Ernie & Patricia Lee whose BMW 325i finished 2nd in class on last year’s Malcolm Wilson Rally.  Having made their intentions perfectly clear during the latter half of the 2022 Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Rally Championship, Nigel & Kaz Jenkins (Nova) returned last season to claim the title with an unbeatable (even by them!) ‘full-house’ – six maximum scores! The husband-and-wife team from the Forest of Dean are back for more but, as is ever the case, they’ll be up against those out to de-rail their ambition – in the nicest possible way! – including, on this occasion, 2021 Bronze Star Champion Steve Black (Suzuki Swift) who has enlisted the help of Jack Morton, Chris & James Greenall (Nova), Ashley Francis-Adams / Mark Ammonds (Micra), Chris Bush / Robert Bryn (Corsa) and Dale Glover / David Smalley (AlfaSud Ti). Brace yourselves!…

<<<<  Nigel & Kaz Jenkins (Nova) – Little (1400cc) Giant-Killers in 2023

For the first five events in its seven-round calendar, the Reis Motorsport Insurance MSUK English Rally Championship follows the BTRDA Rally Series and, as such, also begins on the Malcolm Wilson Rally. Anyone registered for the BTRDA Series is automatically eligible to score ERC points and, as it is class-based, it’s not necessarily the most powerful cars that come out on top. Not for the first time, this was graphically illustrated by Ernie Graham who was the 2023 Champion in his immaculate MkI Escort RS1600. For the new season, Ernie is pinning his hopes on a Lancer EVOX which, in addition to defending his ERC title, also puts him slap-bang in the middle of a very hotly-contested Class B13 in the BTRDA Series!…

For details of the Malcolm Wilson Rally: www.malcolmwilson.co.uk

All photos © Kevin Money and Malcolm Almond

MANY HAPPY RETURNS!…

With just a month to go before the opening round of both the 2024 Protyre BTRDA Rally Series and the Reis Motorsport Insurance MSUK English Rally Championship, the Malcolm Wilson Rally (8th / 9th March), competitors’ intentions are becoming clearer and the entry list, which already extends to more than 90, contains a number of former BTRDA Series and English Rally Champions who are returning to the scene of their former glory as they attempt to extend their run of success.
In 2023 Elliot Payne (Fiesta Rally2) became the first person to take back-to-back BTRDA Gold Star® Championship titles for nearly 30 years (before he was born!) and has now set his sights on a third. Should he succeed, Elliot would be the first-ever triple Gold Star winner since its inception 71 years ago!  Matthew Robinson won the Silver Star Championship three consecutive times (2012-14) but such a feat is yet to be emulated in either the Gold or Bronze Star Championships.
The featured image sees Elliot Payne (Fiesta Rally2) clinching the 2023 Gold Star title on the Trackrod Forest Rally

Whatever happens, Elliot – who is reunited with Patrick Walsh, his 2022 Championship winning co-driver – will not have things all his own way as, among others, proven BTRDA Rally Series event winners (and rivals) Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear (Fiesta R5) and Cambrian Rally victors at the end of last season, Russ Thompson / Steve Link (Lancer EVO9), will be there with the express intention of giving him a hard time!  After a year out, Perry Gardener / Jack Bowen (Fiesta R5), who claimed 2nd overall on their local Woodpecker Stages in 2022, are also back for more. Likewise BTRDA Rally stalwarts Patrick Naylor and Ian Lawrence return in their Mistubishi Evo 9.

.Perry Gardener & Jack Bowen on the Woodpecker Stages  >>>

Due to family commitments, current BTRDA Silver Star® Champion Ben Friend is planning a limited campaign this year, but 2022 winners Rob Wright / Mark Fisher (Escort Mk2) have entered their ‘home’ event and will be pitting their skills against the likes of Andy Davison / Tom Murphy (the 2019 Silver Star Champion Co-driver) in their Sunbeam VXR and 2022 Motorsport UK English Rally Champion Nick Dobson (Escort Mk2).

 

<<<<      Rob Wright/Mark Fisher (Escort Mk2) – 2022 BTRDA Silver Star Champions

In winning the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star® Championship last year, Nigel & Kaz Jenkins (Nova) set themselves a very high bar with a ‘full-house’ of six maximum scores. Impossible to beat but, nevertheless, the husband-and-wife team are back to defend their title. Among those who’ll have other ideas on the subject is Steve Black who claimed the 2021 Championship at the wheel of his Suzuki Swift, while Dylan Fowler-Bishop (Micra) showed everyone else in the category a clean pair of heels on last year’s Woodpecker Stages Rally.

 

Photos courtsey of Kevin Money & Malcolm Almond

PROTYRE ADDS BTRDA RALLY SERIES TO ITS PORTFOLIO…

Having been title sponsor of the BTRDA-permitted MSUK Asphalt Rally Championship since 2018, Protyre is confirmed as taking on a similar role with the forestry-based BTRDA Rally Series. The arrangement is currently for two years with scope for an extension at the conclusion of the initial period.
PROTYRE is the UK’s fastest growing chain of fast-fit and mechanical centres. Supplying a complete range of tyres for all makes and models of cars, vans, 4x4s and motorcycles, Protyre also offer MOTs, mechanical repairs and servicing. Protyre’s Motorsport Division provides tyres and tyre-fitting services for a number of races and rallies.

‘The BTRDA Rallies Committee is delighted to welcome Protyre as its title sponsor for the 2024 BTRDA Rally Series’, said Committee Chair Neil Cross, ‘and looks forward to working with them to bring you some of the best gravel rallying in the UK. Their support ensures that we can continue our hugely popular live streaming of all rounds of the Championship’.

The featured image is Callum Black (Fiesta Rally2) – the 2023 Protyre MSUK Asphalt Rally Champion & regular BTRDA Rally Series Competitor.  Here winning the Woodpecker in 2022.

The 2024 PROTYRE BTRDA Rally Series calendar includes eight of the finest UK gravel events, (best 6 scores to count) details of which are outlined below : –

  • MALCOLM WILSON RALLY      8th/9th MARCH      Cockermouth / Lake District
  • RALLYNUTS SEVERN VALLEY STAGES      13th APRIL      Llandindrod Wells / Mid Wales
  • BORDER COUNTIES RALLY      11th MAY      Jedburgh / Tweed Valley
  • KIELDER FOREST RALLY      15th JUNE      Hexham / Northumberland
  • NICKY GRIST STAGES      13th JULY      Builth Wells / Mid Wales
  • WOODPECKER STAGES      7th SEPTEMBER      Newtown / Powys
  • TRACKROD FOREST STAGES      28th SEPTEMBER      Filey / Yorkshire Forests
  • Visit Conwy CAMBRIAN RALLY      26th OCTOBER      Llandudno / North Wales

The regulaions for both the PROTYRE BTRDA Rally Series and the Reis Motorsport Insurance MSUK English Rally Championship have now been published in the Competitor sections of the respective websites and on-line Championship registrations are now open for 2024. (see below)

The 2024 PROTYRE BTRDA Rally Series will continue to include competion classes to suit all types of stage rally car.   The classses are: –

  • Class RF1.4 BTRDA Rally First cars up to 1400cc or with forced induction up to 1,000cc.
  • Class RF2.0 BTRDA Rally First cars over 1400cc up to 2000cc or forced induction up to 1300cc.
  • Class 1400S All cars up to 1400cc not eligible for Class 1400C or Class RF1.4.
  • Class 1400C Cars up to 1400cc with: –   [a] 8 valve engines, [b] Engines with more than 8 valves that retain the standard fuel and inlet manifold systems, [c] Engines up to 1000cc not eligible for Class RF1.4.    Remote reservoir suspension and sequential gearboxes are not permitted unless fitted as standard or homologated.
  • Class R2 Current and former FIA R2(B) cars (but not FIA spec Rally4 cars)
  • Class B10 Cars over 1400cc up to 1600cc plus current & former FIA Group N3 cars and ST Trophy cars.
  • Class B11 Over 1600cc up to 2000cc or with forced induction engines up to 1300cc plus any FIA Rally4 cars
  • Class B12 Over 2000cc two-wheel drive, including all FIA R3T cars.
  • Class B13 Over 2000cc four-wheel drive cars not eligible for Class B14 including FIA Rally3 cars.
  • Class B14 Current and former FIA Rally2, R5 and S2000 specification cars and any derivatives therefrom, plus World Rally cars with a sequential gearbox.
    All forced induction engines are subject to an additional capacity coefficient of 1.7 to 1, except as set out in Classes RF1.0, RF2.0 and Class B11 or where FIA Appendix J, Art 260 applies.
  • Reis Motorsport Insurance BTRDA HISTORIC CUP
    The BTRDA Historic Cup is open to all Historic Category 1, 2, 3 & 4 rally cars that comply with the eligibility requirements set out in R49 of the Motorsport UK Yearbook. The overall Reis Motorsport Insurance BTRDA Historic Champion will be presented with the prestigious AC de Monaco Trophy at the end-of-year BTRDA awards ceremony.
    The Historic Cup will be split into 2 classes: –
    Class H1/2 Historic Category 1 and 2 cars, Category 3 cars with single cam engines and Category 4a up to 1600cc.
    Class H3/4 Historic Category 3 cars with multi cam engines plus Category 4a cars over 1600cc and all Category 4b cars which comply with R49.1.5

On-line Registration:  BTRDA annual membership is £30 which gives automatic eligibility to all BTRDA Rally Series and English Rally Championship events. The PROTYRE BTRDA Rally Series registration fee also includes registration for the Reis Motorsport Insurance MSUK 2024 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 2024 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’.

The Malcolm Wilson Rally (8th / 9th March) is the opening round of both championship, and at the time of writing over 60 entries have been recieved by the organisers, which is a very encouraging start.

Photos courtesy of Kevin Money / Malcolm Almond.

AH/200124

EVEN MORE FUN AT 71!…

Having celebrated the 70th Anniversary of its coveted BTRDA Gold Star® and Silver Star® Rally Championships in fine style this year while, at the same time, maintaining its ethos of ‘Serious Fun’, the BTRDA is pleased to announce the calendar for the 2024 Rally Series.

Retaining the format that has found favour with so many competitors, eight of the finest one-day gravel events the UK has to offer are included and, with everyone’s best six scores to count, the element of choice – so important in these busy times! – continues.

<<<<  Russ Thompson / Stephen LInk.  Winners for Class B13 and with 100% finish on all events in 2023.

Featured image is Liam Clark in a R2 Fiesta on the Nicky Grist Stages.

Spread over almost eight months, the season begins in early March with the traditional high-speed run through the forests of the Lake District, courtesy of the Malcolm Wilson Rally, prior to the first of three visits to Wales for the Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2024. Winner of the Bill Turner Trophy for the ‘Best Event’ in 2022, the Border Counties Rally then precedes the Kielder Forest Rally which heralds the halfway point of the year.

Following the Nicky Grist Stages in mid-July, a two-month break gives everyone the chance to regroup prior to what often proves to be a hectic run to the finish as Cups,
Categories & Classes are fought over! The Woodpecker and Trackrod Forest Stages are at the beginning and end of September, respectively, before Llandudno hosts the grand finale, the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally, over the last weekend of October.

So, the full 2024 BTRDA Rally Series calendar (best 6 scores to count) is as follows :

  • MALCOLM WILSON RALLY      8th/9th MARCH      Cockermouth / Lake District
  • RALLYNUTS SEVERN VALLEY STAGES      13th APRIL      Llandindrod Wells / Mid Wales
  • BORDER COUNTIES RALLY      11th MAY      Jedburgh / Tweed Valley
  • KIELDER FOREST RALLY      15th JUNE      Hexham / Northumberland
  • NICKY GRIST STAGES      13th JULY      Builth Wells / Mid Wales
  • WOODPECKER STAGES      7th SEPTEMBER      Ludlow / Shropshire
  • TRACKROD FOREST STAGES      28th SEPTEMBER      Filey / Yorkshire Forests
  • Visit Conwy CAMBRIAN RALLY      26th OCTOBER      Llandudno / North Wales

                                                                                                       Dylan Fowler-BishopDan Evans  Class 1400C Micra >>>>

More information about the 2024 BTRDA Gold Star, Silver Star and Bronze Star Championships and the various categories and classes will be published at the end of the year.

HI-HO, SILVER!…

Preview of Round 8: the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally (28th October)  .With the winners of both the 2023 MRF Tyres BTRDA Gold Star® and Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Rally Championships already known – albeit with some possible adjustments to the other podium places – all eyes now turn to the two-wheel drive BTRDA Silver Star® Championship on the final round of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series, the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally on 28th October.

Arriving in North Wales as Silver Star leaders, Boyd Kershaw and Keegan Rees (Escort Mk2) ….the featured image above… already have six scores to their credit and thus, no matter how well they perform, can only improve on their lowest result to date. Meanwhile, following a problematic midseason with their own Historic spec. Mk 2 Escort, Ben Friend / Cliff Simmons tackle the finale with a score in hand over their rivals and, having already accrued three maximums, really only need to finish the Cambrian to claim the title. Simple? Yeah – right!…

<<<<  Ben Friend & Cliff Simmons

Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup leaders Ernie & Karen Graham (Escort RS1600) could move into the Silver Star Top Three with another good run, as might Robert Proudlock / Steven Brown who are not only upholding front-wheel drive honours at the sharp end of the points table in their Opel Adam, but also currently hold sway in both the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup & the R2 Junior Cup – however, Liam Clark’s R2 Fiesta is uncomfortably close in the battle for both, such that victory could go either way…

In addition to fighting for overall Silver Star honours, Ben Friend & Cliff Simmons (above) are also in a position to unseat Ernie & Karen Graham from their lead of the BTRDA Historic Cup – but, whatever happens, that’ll be a close-run thing!

While Elliot Payne and Tom Woodburn (Fiesta Rally2) and Arron Newby and Jamie Edwards (Fabia R5) are confirmed as 2023 BTRDA Gold Star® Champions and runners-up respectively, 3rd place is still to be resolved. Class B13 Champions Russ Thompson / Steve Link (Lancer EVO9) are the present incumbents but Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear, who won last year’s Cambrian Rally outright in their Fiesta R5, are another crew with only five scores so far and, as such, are able to add every point they earn in North Wales to their final tally. Calculators at the ready, then!….

.                                                   Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear (Fiesta R5) – the 2022 Cambrian Rally Winners >>>>>>

Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star® Champions Nigel & Kaz Jenkins will be eyeing the Cambrian as an opportunity to end the season with a ‘full-house’ – their Nova has already scored five maximums and one 2nd, such that another ‘win’ in North Wales would give them a perfect 180 points! Lewis Hooper / Rhys Edwards (Micra), who beat them into 2nd place on the Rallynuts Stages in April, will be present, as will Dylan Fowler-Bishop / Dan Evans (Micra) who showed everyone else in the category a clean pair of heels on their last appearance on the Woodpecker Stages.

As far as the Top Three in the Championship is concerned, Hooper and the Greenalls, Chris & James (Nova), are currently equal on points in 2nd & 3rd places. Both already have six scores and, so, will be reliant on improving on their lowest in order to maintain station – or, in the Greenalls’ case, possibly moving up a place….

<<<<<<<<  Chris & James Greenall (Nova)

Lewis Hooper (Micra) also features in what is now a two-horse race for the MRF Motorsport Tyres Trophy which will earn the eventual winner some tyres (MRF, obviously!) and free entries for use on a number of events in the 2024 BTRDA Rally Series. Colin Minton (Fiesta R5) had been leading but an uncharacteristic retirement last time out on the Trackrod Forest Stages brought a run of five straight maximums to an end and allowed Hooper to move ahead by a single point.

The first car leaves the start of the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally on Llandudno Promenade at 08.01 on 28th October and is due to return at 16.30, by which time the answers to all the situations discussed above will become clear!

SPECTATORS : Details are available at : https://cambrianrally.co.uk/spectators

Photos courtesy of Kevin Money & Malcolm Almond.

PLACES, EVERYONE!..

Preview of Round 7: the Trackrod Forest Stages (23rd September) .
Moving swiftly on from Ludlow and the Woodpecker Stages, the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series heads north to Filey on 23rd September for its penultimate round, the Trackrod Forest Stages. In terms of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Gold Star® Rally Championship, Arron Newby / Jamie Edwards (Fabia R5) took victory last time out but defending champion Elliot Payne and co-driver Tom Woodburn (Fiesta Rally2) – runners-up in the Marches – still hold the upper hand, albeit by a reduced margin.

• The featured image is Arron Newby and Jamie Edwards (Fabia R5) – the winners of the 2023 Woodpecker Stages Rally

2022 Trackrod winners David Henderson / Chris Lees (Fiesta Rally2) are back and, quite rightly, take the No.1 spot. Then Payne and Newby start either side of Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear for whom the Woodpecker was an unmitigated disaster after their Fiesta R5’s engine failed at Scrutineering, forcing them to withdraw their entry. Onwards and upwards, men!…

Newly-crowned Class B13 champions Russ Thompson and Steve Link (Lancer EVO9) leave the start one minute in front of Rob Wilson / Richard Crozier whose EVO7 finished marginally ahead of them on the Woodpecker to claim the final podium spot. Then, carrying on where they left off last time out, Al Ginley / Craig Thorley (Fiesta Rally2) and Ian Bainbridge / Will Atkins (VW Polo) set off line astern. Colin Minton / Bonnie Papper (Fiesta R5) will be looking to maintain their 100% finishing record and, if successful, should get their hands on the MRF Tyres Motorsport Trophy, the prize for which includes a number of free entries and sets of tyres for use in the 2024 BTRDA Rally Series.

Meanwhile, the MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star® Championship was turned on its head on the Woodpecker, with the top two crews prior to the start – Boyd Kershaw / Keegan Rees and Robert Gough / Paul Morris (Escort Mk2’s) – both failing to finish. Kershaw / Rees have hung on to a reduced lead but Gough has been deposed by Andy Davison whose Sunbeam VXR now occupies 2nd place. Keeping their heads while all around etc. etc., early-season leaders Ben Friend and Cliff Simmons returned to their winning ways by guiding their Escort to top spot, a handful of seconds in front of the Opel Adam of Robert Proudlock / Steven Brown.

<<<<<    Ben Friend / Cliff Simmons (Escort Mk2) – Silver Star winners on the Woodpecker Stages

Gough / Morris’ DNF, allied to an excellent run by Ernie & Karen Graham (Escort RS1600) at the beginning of the month has seen them move into the lead of the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup at this stage. Nevertheless, the Escorts of Gough, Steve Ward / Phil Sandham and Ben Friend / Cliff Simmons are all still in with a chance of altering the look of the leaderboard between now and the end of the season.

Proudlock / Brown’s Adam holds sway in both the BTRDA Rallye R2 & R2 Junior Cups but Liam Clark (Fiesta), in spite of retiring on the Woodpecker, is far too close for comfort!

Robert Proudlock / Steven Brown (Opel Adam) – BTRDA Rallye R2 & R2 Junior Cup Leaders  >>>>>

 

In so many different sports the result that puts you over the winning line is often the most difficult to obtain! Nigel & Kaz Jenkins have taken their Nova to four maximums and one second-place in the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Championship, such that a good run on the Woodpecker would have clinched the 2023 title for them. However, that well-known rallying phrase ‘to finish first, you must first finish’ will be ringing loudly in the husband-and-wife team’s ears after their hitherto reliable Nova’s engine let go on SS2… On the plus side, they still lead the charge and have two more opportunities, starting with the Trackrod, to put the matter to bed once and for all…

Last year’s MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally First Cup winner Lewis Hooper (Micra) arrives in North Yorkshire ahead of Luke Watts (MG ZR), Dylan Fowler-Bishop (Micra), Chris Greenall (Nova), Ashley Francis-Adams (Micra) and Chris Bush (Corsa) but, on paper at least, all of them could still win the race to succeed Pete Gorst as the 2023 Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Champion!…

<<<<<     Dylan Fowler-Bishop/Dan Evans (Micra) – Woodpecker Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Winners

In similar fashion to the BTRDA Gold Star Championship, Arron Newby’s Woodpecker victory has also closed the gap on Elliot Payne’s grip on the Motorsport UK English Rally Championship, in association with Seacon UK, which still has three rounds remaining. Ernie Graham (Escort RS1600) and Rob Wilson (Lancer EVO7) also scored maximums but, with 75 points still on offer, such is the competitiveness of the championship that the table tells us that, theoretically, any one of the first couple of dozen drivers could succeed Nick Dobson to the title!…

SPECTATORS : Tickets for the spectator stages in Cropton and Dalby are available online at https://www.rallyyorkshire.co.uk/spectator-information/

 

All photos © Kevin Money & Malcolm Almond

Further information on the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series : www.btrdarally.com  &  Motorsport UK English Rally Championship : www.englishrally.co.uk

TOO CLOSE TO CALL – YET!…

Preview of Round 6:  Phil Price Memorial Woodpecker Stages (9th September).
Having been ‘resting between engagements’ since mid-July, MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series contenders now head to Ludlow Racecourse for Round 6, the 40th anniversary running of the Woodpecker Stages (9th September), and, with three rounds still to run, just seven points separate the top four crews in their respective bids for 2023 MRF Tyres BTRDA Gold Star® Championship glory.
Defending champion Elliot Payne and co-driver Tom Woodburn (Fiesta Rally2) top the table but the chasing pack is led by Arron Newby / Jamie Edwards (Fabia R5), with Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear (Fiesta R5) and Russ Thompson / Steve Link (Lancer EVO9) in very close proximity. Each of the above has maintained a 100% finishing record so far with nothing lower than a 4th place points score and, as the pressure continues to mount, something’s got to give!… Although not involved in the Gold Star tussle, last year’s runners-up Perry Gardener / Jack Bowen (Fiesta R5) will be very keen to go one better this time and add their name to the trophy that already bears the name of Perry’s dad, Shaun, from 2006 and 2008!

                   Matthew Hirst / Decal Dear (Fiesta R5)   >>>>>>>>

<<<<  Russ Thompson/Steve Link (Lancer EVO9) – 4th Gold Star & Class B13 Leaders

As may be imagined, Thompson / Link’s performances thus far have given them a commanding lead in Class B13 such that one more good result will put the title beyond reach – and they’ve still got three opportunities to clinch it!

 

Meanwhile, the MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star® Championship is also still wide open – a fact that will be of no comfort whatsoever to current leaders Boyd Kershaw / Keegan Rees (Escort Mk2)! They have also retained a clean sheet in terms of event finishes but will be very wary of Robert Gough / Paul Morris who, having missed the opening round, burst on to the scene in their Historic spec. Escort Mk2 to trump the opposition on the next two. Kershaw went some way to redress the balance on the Kielder Forest Rally, only for Gough to turn the tables on his rival once more last time out. Dropped scores come into play after the Woodpecker and this is when maximums really come into their own – the current tally is Gough 3 : Kershaw 1 but, as has already been outlined, there’s still plenty of time for the pendulum to swing in either direction!
Andy Davison’s Sunbeam VXR is hanging in there and currently occupies the final podium spot in the Silver Star table while, following an accident on the Border Counties Rally and an absence from the next event while their Escort Mk2 was refettled, early season leaders Ben Friend / Cliff Simmons (Escort Mk2) have some catching up to do!…

<<<<<<    Andy Davison (Sunbeam VXR) – 3rd BTRDA Silver Star Championship

For their part, Gough and Morris hold sway in the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup but that, too, could yet have a different look to it by the end of the season. The Escort MkI RS1600 of Ernie & Karen Graham just won’t leave them alone while, depending to an extent on what happens in front of them, a determined push from Steve Ward / Phil Sandham might well see their Escort Mk2 improve on its current 3rd place.
Robert Proudlock and Steven Brown (Opel Adam) – 2nd BTRDA Rallye R2 & R2 Junior Cups  >>>>>>>

Whether the destination of both the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup and BTRDA Rallye R2 Junior Cup is north or south of the Scottish border is firmly in the hands of Liam Clark (Fiesta – Keighley) and Robert Proudlock (Opel Adam – Dumfries). As is the case in the Silver Star Championship, the current runner-up has more maximum scores than the leader but the burning question is ‘will that still be the case at the end of the season’?….
Nigel & Kaz Jenkins (Nova) set out their stall in terms of the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Championship right from the word ‘go’ and now, after five events, are just two points shy of a full-house! Can they be ousted from their dominant position? Possibly – but, once again, we’ll have to wait and see what happens on the Woodpecker. Although obviously not quite as quick as his stepfather’s Nova, Luke Watts’ MG ZR is proving to be equally reliable and its closest rival in the race to succeed Pete Gorst / Mark Twiname to the 1400cc title. However, another Nova in the hands of Chris & James Greenall has been steadily speeding up as the season progressed to the point that, should their run of results continue at the same (or even higher!) level, an improvement on their current 4th place is definitely on the cards.

<<<<<<<    Chris & James Greenall (Nova) – 4th BTRDA Bronze Star Championship

Returning after a three-month break, the Motorsport UK English Rally Championship, in association with Seacon UK, now looks forward to two events in a fortnight – nobody said it was going to be easy! Prior to the start of the first of these, Elliot Payne (Fiesta Rally2) has a one-point advantage over Nigel Jenkins (Nova) who, himself, is a similar margin ahead of Boyd Kershaw (Escort). Then Matthew Hirst (Fiesta R5), Russ Thompson (Lancer EVO9) and Arron Newby (Fabia R5) complete the Top Six with just five points separating all of them. To say there was ‘all to play for’ could, therefore, be construed as something of an understatement!…

New for 2023, the MRF Motorsport Tyres Trophy is for users of said tyres on BTRDA Rally Series events and, from those fulfilling the criteria, the chance of some free entries and tyres for use on events featured in next year’s BTRDA calendar has so far attracted 20 drivers to register. From them, Colin Minton (Fiesta R5) rules the roost as he arrives at Ludlow Racecourse for the start of the Woodpecker Stages but, like almost everything else connected with this year’s BTRDA Rally Series, his position is not yet secure!

SPECTATORS: The first car leaves Ludlow Racecourse at 7.30am on the Saturday morning and full details can be found at www.woodpecker-rally.co.uk
All photos © Kevin Money / Malcolm Almond
Further information on the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series : www.btrdarally.com & Motorsport UK English Rally Championship : www.englishrally.co.uk

AH

HIRST’S THIRST FOR FIRSTS!….

Preview of Round 5 : Nicky Grist Stages (8th July)
As the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series moves into the second half of the 2023 season and contenders head to Builth Wells for the Nicky Grist Stages, Matthew Hirst and codriver Declan Dear could be excused for harbouring a degree of optimism when it comes to the eventual outcome of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Gold Star® Championship!  Last year’s Nicky Grist winners arrive in mid Wales on the back of victory on the previous BTRDA round, the Kielder Forest Rally, (see featured image) and, although currently 3rd in the table, their Fiesta R5 is only four points adrift of defending Gold Star Champion Elliot Payne and Tom Woodburn (Fiesta Rally2).

The ‘meat’ in this Fiesta sandwich is provided by the Skoda Fabia R5 of Arron Newby / Jamie Edwards and, between them, these three crews have not only won all four events to date but have also finished no lower than 4th overall at any point!…  So, while there are still four rounds to go, anyone with a view to muscling in on the action will be only too aware that, in order to stand any chance of achieving their goal, they must certainly match the current standard, if not even bettering it!

                                                          Arron Newby / Jamie Edwards (Skoda Fabia R5) on the recent Kielder Forest Rally >>>>

Russ Thompson / Steve Link are having an excellent season in their Lancer EVO9, such that they are 4th in the Gold Star table, one point behind Hirst & Dear. Their exploits find them dominating Class B13 by a sufficient margin that, whatever happens on the Nicky Grist, they’ll still be leading at the end of the day.

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

Returning to the BTRDA Series this year, Alistair Ginley / Craig Thorley (Fiesta Rally2) are improving with each event – a 4th place finish in Kielder, less than a minute behind the leaders, giving ample notice of their intent. Ian Bainbridge / Will Atkins (Fiesta) have led a BTRDA event in the past but a retirement and an absence so far this season leave them with some catching up to do, while both Eddie Lewis / Sion Cunniff (Fiesta R5) and Trevor Gamble / Phil Kenny (Fiesta Rally2) arrive in Builth Wells on the back of their best results to-date last time out. Then there are Steve Black / Jack Morton in the black-liveried Rally2 being campaigned so successfully by Callum Black on asphalt this year – no threat in overall Gold Star terms but eminently capable of mixing it on the day!  Having missed Kielder, Ian Joel / Graeme Wood (Escort Cosworth) rejoin the B13 battle while Rob Wilson / Richard Crozier, who took the start but not the finish of the event after their Lancer’s brakes failed, will also be craving a return to previous form!

Although only benefitting from two driven wheels, as opposed to the four of its Gold Star counterpart, the MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star® Championship has also witnessed three different ‘winners’ so far this year. Boyd Kershaw and Keegan Rees (Escort Mk2) consolidated their lead in the series with maximum points last time out, edging Robert Gough / Paul Morris, who had come out on top in the previous two encounters, into 2nd place. Meanwhile the early-season leaders, Ben Friend / Cliff Simmons, will be looking to reclaim their advantage after an off on the Border Counties and a no-show in Kielder have severely curtailed their momentum.

                                               Boyd Kershaw/Keegan Rees (Escort Mk2) – BTRDA Silver Star Championship Leaders  >>>

Neil Andrew / Dom Adams (Escort) find themselves currently wedged midway between Kershaw / Rees and Gough / Morris in the points while, at the same time, the latter crew holds sway in the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup. Ernie & Karen Graham (Escort RS1600) are only a couple of points behind them but the reappearance of Friend / Simmons should keep all the serious contenders on their toes!

Prior to its retirement from the Border Counties, Robert Proudlock / Steven Brown’s Opel Adam featured in the Silver Star Top Three but, for the moment, it must be content with leading both the BTRDA Rallye R2 and Rallye R2 Junior Cups! The Fiestas of Liam Clark and Alfie Hammond both failed to finish in Kielder which, in its own way, evens things up somewhat as each of the above has now registered one DNF. So, still all to play for, especially as the R2 victors on the Border Counties, Tony Simpson / Stefan Arndt (Fiesta), return for the Nicky Grist.

The Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Championship offers a different perspective from Gold & Silver Star in that, rather than three different crews scoring maximum points, we have one crew doing it three times! Unsurprisingly, therefore, Nigel & Kaz Jenkins’ Nova leads from the MG ZR of Luke Watts / Matt Rogers and Lewis Hooper / Rhys Edwards’ Micra – the only other car with a maximum to its credit so far!
<<< Nigel & Kaz Jenkins (Nova) – Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Championship Leaders

Chris & James Greenall (Nova) have been the Jenkins’ closest challenger for the past couple of events and, in what will quite likely be something of a gathering of the clans, 2022 Championship front-runners Ed James / Charlie Mason (Micra Kit Car) and Aaron Rix / Abi Haycock (Escort) return after lengthy absences.
Class 1400C is, once again, proving to be a closely-fought affair with Luke Watts leading the Drivers’ table from an inseparable Dylan Fowler-Bishop and Ashley Francis-Adams (both Micras) in joint 2nd, while co-driver Lucy Wilding (Francis-Adams) has top spot to herself from Matt Rogers (Watts) and Dan Evans (Fowler-Bishop).

With three maximums and one 2nd to his credit already, Colin Minton (Fiesta R5) leads the MRF Motorsport Tyres Trophy at the halfway stage. However, the lure of some free entries and sets of tyres to use during the 2024 BTRDA Rally Series is proving attractive to a number of other drivers, such that the current Top Six will all be present in Builth Wells! Ian Joel (Escort Cosworth) is Minton’s closest rival, but Lewis Hooper (Micra), Alfie Hammond & Tony Simpson (Fiesta R2s) and Ed James (Micra Kit Car) all have time to make an impact before the day of reckoning!…
Colin Minton (Fiesta R5) – MRF Motorsport Tyres Trophy Leader

SPECTATORS : The first car leaves the start in Builth Wells at 8.30am on Saturday 8th July and full details can be found at: http://www.nickygriststages.co.uk/spectators/

All photos © Kevin Money and Malcolm Almond

BIDDING FOR VICTORY!..

Preview of Round 4 : Kielder Forest Rally (17th June)
Hexham Auction Mart once again plays host to the Kielder Forest Rally, the fourth round of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series on 17th June and, as the season moves towards its halfway stage, last year’s winner Elliot Payne (Fiesta Rally2) holds the upper hand as he seeks to successfully defend his 2022 BTRDA Gold Star Championship crown. Elliot and Tom Woodburn have already claimed two maximums and one second-place, leaving them just two points shy of a full-house as they head for north-east England.

The featured image above is Elliot Payne & Tom Woodburn (Fiesta Rally2) – the 2023 BTRDA Gold Star Championship Leaders

Arron Newby / Jamie Edwards (Fabia R5), who upstaged Payne/Woodburn to win the Rallynuts Stages, are only four points adrift, while Russ Thompson / Steve Link (photo below) have also had an excellent start to their campaign, taking their Class B13 Lancer EVO9 to three consecutive Top Five finishes which sees them in 3rd place overall, just one point behind Newby / Edwards. Meanwhile, Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear (Fiesta R5) are nothing if not consistent, having secured three 3rd place finishes in a row. To put the above in perspective, just seven points currently separate 1st from 4th place and, with 30 available on each of the five remaining events, everyone involved needs to be on their mettle if they are to play a significant role in the latter stages of the season.

Among those with an eye to joining in are 2017 Gold Star Champions Stephen Petch / Michael Wilkinson whose transition from a Fiesta to a Fabia Rally2 has proved to be somewhat problematic, certainly in terms of the two BTRDA Series events they have contested, both of which witnessed the pair heading home earlier than intended. Moving in the opposite direction – from Skoda to Ford – Ian Bainbridge / Will Atkins’ retirement from the Rallynuts Stages is enough to keep them out of the Top Ten at this point, but a good run in Kielder would certainly prompt a degree of upward mobility!…
Having been absent from the Border Counties line-up, Al Ginley / Craig Thorley are back in their ex Elliot Payne Fiesta Rally2, while 2016 Gold Star Champions Charlie Payne/Carl Williamson (Fiesta Rally2) will be at least hoping to finish the Kielder Forest Rally this year after a second-stage accident put them out in 2022….
Ian Joel / Graeme Wood’s Escort Cosworth is Thompson / Link’s nearest challenger in B13, but Rob Wilson / Richard Crozier (Lancer) were only 20s behind the class leaders last time out and, consequently, pose a significant threat to all-comers in this particular category.

<<<<  Boyd Kershaw / Keegan Rees’ Escort Mk2 currently holds sway – just! – in the MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star® Championship from the Sunbeam VXR of Andy Davison / Tom Murphy and Neil Andrew / Dom Adams’ Escort. However, having missed the Malcolm Wilson, Robert Gough / Paul Morris (Escort Mk2) showed everybody a clean pair of heels on the next two events and are 5th in the table from just two scores. Defending Champions Rob Wright / Mark Fisher (Escort Mk2) also have a ‘Did Not Start’ on their scoresheet but 2nd & 3rd from the events they’ve contested leave them handily placed to improve….

Gough / Morris’ efforts see them leading the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup, with Ernie & Karen Graham’s Escort RS1600 likely to be their leading challenger on this occasion. Ernie & Patricia Lee’s BMW325i didn’t complete the opening stage on the Border Counties and thus, in the interests of fair play, a full day’s sport in Kielder would go some way to redress the balance!

Liam Clark / Ben Wild (Fiesta R2) BTRDA Rallye R2 & Junior R2 Cup leaders >>

Liam Clark / Ben Wild (Fiesta) lead the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup and Junior R2 Cup from Alfie Hammond, after erstwhile leaders Robert Proudlock / Steven Brown were forced out of the Border Counties when their Opel Adam succumbed to electrical gremlins. The Scotsmen now have the opportunity to restore what, in their eyes, would be the status quo….

Also registering a rare retirement on the Border Counties, Lewis Hooper / Rhys Edwards (Micra) have suffered a setback in their quest for Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Championship supremacy. That honour currently lies with Nigel & Kaz Jenkins whose Nova is mimicking the performance of Elliot Payne’s Fiesta, with two maximums and a second to its credit. Luke Watts, whose own Nova maintains a 100% finishing record, is next up, with Hooper / Edwards now 3rd – but still less than one maximum off prime spot!…

<<  Nigel & Kaz Jenkins (Nova) – BTRDA Bronze Star Championship Leaders

Experiencing vastly differing fortunes in the Borders, Paddy Homan’s Puma finished 3rd in class, behind the Nova of Chris & James Greenall, while Justin Fowler-Bishop / Dan Evans (Micra) suffered the indignity of having to be rescued from a ditch on the opening stage. This situation now leaves something of a log-jam in the points, with Homan (52), Fowler-Bishop (51), Greenall and the Nova of Will Banks (50) but rest assured, one way or another, the table will have a different aspect by teatime on 17th June!
Notwithstanding the upset on the Border Counties, Lewis Hooper is still in the pound seats when it comes to retaining his 2022 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally First Cup title. There’s still some work to do, but confidence will be high within the team….

Ian Joel (Escort Cosworth), Colin Minton (Fiesta R5) and Alfie Hammond (Fiesta R2) are the only three drivers to have kept clean sheets in their respective quests for the MRF Tyres Motorsport Trophy and, thus, lead the charge for the possibility of winning some (MRF!) tyres and rally entries for the 2024 BTRDA Series.

The Motorsport UK English Rally Championship, in association with Seacon UK, also includes the Kielder Forest Rally in its calendar and, as the only driver to have scored maximums on both previous rounds, Elliot Payne has edged ahead of his ‘co-leaders’ following the Malcolm Wilson Rally to claim top spot for himself. However, it’s worth noting that five more points-scoring opportunities remain, following the Border Counties Rally the difference between 1st and 10th places in the table is just nine points and 21 of the current top 22 drivers will be in Hexham – so hold on to your hats!…

SPECTATORS:  The first car leaves Hexham Auction Mart at 10.00am on Saturday 17th June and full details of locations/pricing can be found at: https://kielderforestrally.co.uk/spectators-timetable/

All images courtesy of Kevin Money and  Malcolm Almond