News

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

BORDERS TIE-BREAKER!…

Preview of Round 3 : Brick & Steel Border Counties Rally (6th May)

The Brick & Steel Border Counties Rally is the third round of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series and Arron Newby / Jamie Edwards (Fabia R5) and Elliot Payne / Tom Woodburn (Fiesta Rally2) arrive in Jedburgh as joint leaders of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Gold Star® Championship, each with a 1st and a 2nd place to their credit so far. However, as both crews can’t be credited with identical scores on any particular event, one way or another, the tie will be broken on 6th May.

Joint BTRDA Gold Star Leaders: Arron Newby / Jamie Edwards (Fabia R5)  and  Elliot Payne / Tom Woodburn (Fiesta Rally2) >>>

The records show that Elliot Payne won the event last year, ahead of David Henderson (Fiesta Rally2) who is returning in an attempt to go one better this time, but a glance at the entry list tells us that whoever comes out on top will have had to work very hard for the privilege!  Missing the 2022 event in favour of his co-driver Declan Dear’s wedding, Matthew Hirst (Fiesta R5) has proved he’s a force to be reckoned with wherever he competes and the pair will view it as an opportunity to improve on their current 4th place in the points table. Meanwhile Fiesta converts Ian Bainbridge / Will Atkins will want to put a retirement on the recent Rallynuts Stages behind them and set about making an impression on the leaderboard.
Making a welcome return to the BTRDA Series are 2017 Gold Star Champions Stephen Petch / Michael Wilkinson who have transferred their allegiance from Ford to a Skoda Fabia Rally2. Although they’ve not contested either of the first two rounds of this year’s Series, the words ‘cat’ and ‘pigeons’ spring to mind!…

Then we mustn’t forget the B13 Lancer EVO9 of Russ Thompson / Steve Link – 4th overall on both the Malcolm Wilson and Rallynuts Stages see them occupying the final podium spot in the Gold Star table at the one-quarter distance. Ian Joel / Graeme Wood (Escort Cosworth) are their nearest class rivals but, having missed the opener, Rob Wilson / Richard Crozier, in another Lancer, were 2nd to Thompson last time out….

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

Ben Friend / Cliff Simmons (Escort Mk2) rule the roost in the MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star® Championship with a 1st and a 2nd place so far, but they were upstaged by the similar car of Robert Gough / Paul Morris on the Rallynuts Stages and now go head-to head once more in both Silver Star and the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup.

Ben Friend/Cliff Simmons (Escort) – BTRDA Silver Star & Historic Cup Leaders >>> 

Boyd Kershaw / Keegan Rees (Escort Mk2) and Robert Proudlock / Steven Brown (Opel Adam) are inseparable in runners-up spot in the Silver Star table – an alliance which, once again, will be broken on the Border Counties and, from the BTRDA’s point of view, it’s gratifying to see that there are several crews who might just get involved in such a breakage!  Andy Davison / Tom Murphy (Sunbeam VXR) have begun their 2023 campaign well, as have Neil Andrew / Dom Adams (Escort) – it’s amazing what a couple of solid scores early in the season does for your confidence! Having been absent from the Rallynuts Stages, defending Silver Star Champions Rob Wright / Mark Fisher, who were runners-up on the Malcolm Wilson in their Escort, are back and their track record is such that they can’t be discounted from causing an upset!

<<<<  Robert Proudlock and Steven Brown (Opel Adam)

While, unsurprisingly, Proudlock / Brown lead the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup, the Fiestas of Liam Clark / Ben Wild, Alfie Hammond / Phil Boyle and Tony Simpson / Stefan Arndt are all in the mix and, at the risk of tempting fate, thus far have yet to record a DNF!  Proudlock, Clark and Hammond are also eligible for the BTRDA Rallye R2 Junior Cup with the three currently separated by a mere four points….
OK, so Friend / Simmons lead the BTRDA Historic Cup from Gough/Morris but the Border Counties entry also includes Ernie & Patricia Lee (BMW 325i) and Ernie & Karen Graham (Escort RS1600) who could each give their campaigns a welcome boost in what is a very crowded table!

 

After two events, the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Championship finds itself in a similar situation to that of the Gold Star in that there is a tie for top spot. Nigel & Kaz Jenkins (Nova) headed Lewis Hooper / Rhys Edwards (Rally First Micra) home on the Malcolm Wilson while the roles were reversed on the Rallynuts Stages. So, whose turn is it on the Border Counties – or will someone else take centre stage?…  Class 1400C leaders, Dylan Fowler-Bishop / Dan Evans (Micra) are 3rd in the overall table and, consequently, best placed to benefit should anything untoward happen to either of the crews in front of them.

Bronze Star Leaders:  Nigel & Kaz Jenkins (Nova) and Lewis Hooper/Rhys Edwards (Micra) 

In addition to the defence of his MRF Tyres Rally First Cup title, Lewis Hooper is also chasing victory in the MRF Motorsport Tyres Trophy which could earn him a number of free entries and/or sets of tyres for the 2024 BTRDA Rally Series. Following the Rallynuts Stages, Ian Joel (Escort Cosworth) is ‘King of the Castle’ with Lewis 2nd on a tie-break (sound familiar?) but neither driver will need reminding that there’s still a long way to go!

Having been ‘resting’ since the beginning of March, contenders for the Motorsport UK English Rally Championship, in association with Seacon UK, are back on parade in Jedburgh as they attempt to resolve the inevitable ties that occur after the first round of the class-based series. Robert Proudlock, Nigel Jenkins, Elliot Payne & Ben Friend share top billing, but Arron Newby & Russ Thompson are two points behind with another five drivers a further one in arrears. So, there’ll be plenty of action while all this is sorted out!

The Brick & Steel Border Counties Rally takes in six special stages and the first car leaves the start at Jedburgh Abbey at 8.00am on Saturday 6th May. Prospective spectators should consult : www.bordercountiesrally.co.uk/spectators/

All photos © Kevin Money & Malcolm Almond

PUTTING ON A SHOW !…

Preview of Round 2 : Rallynuts Stages (15th April)

The Royal Welsh Agricultural Showground in Builth Wells plays host to the second round of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series, the Rallynuts Stages, on 15th April and it was there twelve months ago that Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear (Fiesta R5) recorded the first of their three victories during the season. They arrived back at the finish half-a-minute ahead of Elliot Payne (Fiesta Rally2) who, having retired from the Malcolm Wilson Rally a few weeks earlier, was opening his account in what turned out to be the teenager’s BTRDA Gold Star® Rally Championship-winning campaign.

<<<   Elliot Payne & Tom Woodburn (Fiesta Rally2) sliding their way to maximum Gold Star points on the Malcolm Wilson Rally

This time, having had a very successful outing on the snow-affected Malcolm Wilson Rally, Payne and co-driver Tom Woodburn start the Rallynuts Stages as MRF Tyres BTRDA Gold Star Championship leaders. Hirst / Dear are 3rd in the points table, marginally behind Arron Newby / Jamie Edwards who won the Interclub section of the opening round outright in their Skoda Fabia R5. Fiestas also appear in the hands of Ian Bainbridge / Will Atkins, Charlie Payne / Carl Williamson and Alistair Ginley / Craig Thorley, while Trevor Gamble / Phil Kenny will be looking to the Rallynuts Stages as an opportunity to get their challenge back on track following an unplanned early exit in Cumbria.

Russ Thompson / Steve Link (Lancer EVO9) hold the early-season bragging rights in Class B13 following their 4th place overall on the Malcolm Wilson but, with Ian Joel / Graeme Wood (Escort Cosworth) and Daniel Moss / Sam Davies (Lancer EVO9) also coming away with good points scores, they can take nothing for granted. At this early stage of the season, there’s also still plenty of time for Steve Pawson / Dylan Thomas (Impreza) to put their indiscretion in Greystoke behind them and catch up. The same applies to first-round absentees Rob Wilson / Richard Crozier (Lancer EVO7) who are rejoining the fray after some impressive performances during 2022.….

Ben Friend / Cliff Simmons’ mastery of the conditions encountered on the Malcolm Wilson in their Escort Mk2 brought with it not only maximum MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star® Championship points but also similar domination of the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup. In Silver Star terms, Robert Proudlock / Steven Brown’s R2 Opel Adam is their nearest challenger, but Andy Davison / Tom Murphy (Sunbeam VXR) and Boyd Kershaw / Keegan Rees (Escort Mk2) have both sampled the spoils of victory in the past and will be keen to repeat the experience.

                                                                        Ben Friend & Cliff Simmons (Escort) – BTRDA Silver Star & Historic Cup Leaders   >>>>>

Ford Escort RS1600s are the vehicles of choice for both Jonathan Brace / Paul Spooner and Ernie & Karen Graham in the pursuit of BTRDA Historic Cup success and, while Proudlock / Brown currently hold sway in the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup, Liam Clark / Ben Wild and Alfie Hammond / Phil Boyle (both Fiestas) aren’t far behind them. The Rallynuts Stages also marks the return of Tony Simpson, with Stefan Arndt installed in the codriver’s seat, to the series.

<<<      Robert Proudlock / Steven Brown (Opel Adam) – BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup Leaders

Nigel & Kaz Jenkins (Nova) swept all before them in the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Championship on the opening round and, as such, arrive in Builth Wells as leaders. However, not to put too fine a point(!) on it, there are people queueing up to try and halt their charge! Lewis Hooper / Rhys Edwards (Micra) began the defence of the driver’s MRF Tyres Rally First Cup title in fine style by finishing runners-up to the husband-and-wife crew, while Ed James / Charlie Mason (Micra Kit Car) are looking to improve on their 3rd / 2nd places in the 2022 Bronze Star table. They’ve started off on the right foot with a good haul of points to leave them in striking distance of the leaders.

                                                                                                                                                 Lewis Hooper / Rhys Edwards (Micra)  >>>>

Class 1400C has the makings of a competitive affair with the Micra of Dylan Fowler-Bishop / Dan Evans attempting to hold off the attentions of Will Banks / Sam Kelter’s Nova and Luke Watts’ MG ZR. Unfazed by their early exit from the Malcolm Wilson Rally, Ashley Francis-Adams / Lucy Wilding (Micra) are back for more and, as with all the others who experienced problems on the opening round, there’s still plenty of time to haul themselves back into contention.

 

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

New for this year, the MRF Tyres Motorsport Trophy offers eligible crews the chance to win a number of free entries and sets of tyres for use during the 2024 BTRDA Series. The clue is in the title – cars must use MRF tyres at all times and, following the Malcolm Wilson Rally, Andrew Wheatley (Puma) leads from Ian Bainbridge (Fiesta R5), Lewis Hooper (Micra), Ian Joel (Escort Cosworth) and Alfie Hammond (Fiesta R2). However, with Wheatley’s name absent from the Rallynuts Stages entry, that order will almost certainly have changed by the time cars return to the Showground at the conclusion of the event.

                                                                               Andrew & Oliver Wheatley  (Puma)  >>>

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

All photos © Kevin Money / Malcolm Almond

PROSPECTING FOR GOLD, SILVER & BRONZE!..

M-Sport’s premises in Dovenby provide an appropriate setting for the commencement of the 2023 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series and Motorsport UK English Rally Championship, in association with Seacon UK, as the battle (and make no mistake – it will be!) for the prestigious BTRDA Gold, Silver and Bronze Stars begins on the Malcolm Wilson Rally.

Elliot Payne (Fiesta Rally2) is defending his MRF Tyres BTRDA Gold Star® Championship title in addition to his challenge for the BRC and will be partnered by 2018 BTRDA Silver Star® Champion Co-driver Tom Woodburn for the new season. Meanwhile, Matthew Hirst (Fiesta R5) was the only driver to score three outright wins during 2022 on his way to runner-up spot but a retirement and an absence, whilst attending the wedding of his co-driver Declan Dear, saw the pair narrowly miss out on the overall crown.

The featured image is Elliot Payne (Fiesta Rally2) clinching the 2022 BTRDA Gold Star® Championship on the Trackrod Rally

Having only contested three BTRDA events last year but emerging victorious from the Woodpecker Stages first time out in their new Fiesta Rally2, Callum Black / Jack Morton are starting at the beginning this time. Black, who finished 2nd to Stephen Petch in the 2017 Gold Star Championship, is seeking to add the overall title to the Bronze Star he won back in 2019. Ian Bainbridge / Will Atkins, who have swopped their Skoda Fabia for a seemingly all-conquering Fiesta, have led BTRDA events in the past but have yet to convert their proven speed into an outright win and will be hoping to do just that in the Lake District….
If experience counts for anything, 2016 Gold Star winners Charlie Payne / Carl Williamson and Hugh Hunter (2008), co-driven by Manxman Rob Fagg, know a thing or two about success at this level and will be looking to put that knowledge to good use once more.
Seemingly unperturbed by a big accident on the Kielder Forest Rally which left their car in need of a major rebuild, Russ Thompson / Steve Link (Lancer EVO9) not only came out on top of a very keenly fought Class B13 tussle last year but also ended up with a Top Five place in the overall Gold Star table. They return in the company of Ian Joel / Graeme Wood whose MRF Tyres-shod Escort Cosworth also had its fair share of dramas during 2022 but, ironically, won its class in Kielder!…

Just as Fiestas seem likely to hold sway in the battle for four-wheel drive supremacy, Ford products have also held the upper hand in the two-wheel drive MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star® Championship in recent times – not exclusively as ‘winners’ on the Trackrod Rally, Andy Davison / Tom Murphy (Sunbeam VXR), would rightly point out, but defending champions Rob Wright / Mark Fisher will be hoping that it’s an Escort – and theirs in particular! – that features at the sharp end of the points table when it matters most! A thought doubtless shared – at least in part! – by Boyd Kershaw / Keegan Rees whose own Mk2 showed the others a clean pair of (w)heels on the Woodpecker Stages….

<<<<    Andy Davison/Tom Murphy (Talbot Sunbeam VXR)

A couple of other matters the Silver Star hopefuls would be well advised to consider certain contenders for the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup and the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup (and Junior version thereof) have on occasions, graced the two-wheel drive podium. Representing the former category, for example, Ben Friend / Cliff Simmons and Steve Ward / Phil Sandham will be present in very potent Escort Mk2’s, while R2 Fiestas in the hands of Robert Proudlock, Alfie Hammond and Liam Clark (Junior) might also emulate the results of competitors in similar vehicles in 2022.

Certainly, the winner in terms of the variation in manufacturers attaining top honours over the years, the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Rally Championship continues to provide a competitive platform for 1400cc vehicles of all shapes and sizes! Vauxhall currently holds the bragging rights and, consequently, Nigel & Kaz Jenkins will be of a mind to keep it that way as their Nova sets out to claim the title for itself. 5th overall last year, in just four outings it registered three maximums and one 2nd place – so, now we’ll get to see what it’s really made of!                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Nigel & Kaz Jenkins (1400cc Vauxhall Nova)  >>>>>>>>

Competitors with ideas diametrically opposed to those of the Jenkins include 2021 Bronze Star Champion Steve Black who is returning with his aptly-named Suzuki Swift, Ed James / Charlie Mason (Nissan Micra Kit Car), Dale Glover / Sean Ward (AlfaSud Ti) and Aaron Rix / Abi Haycraft (Escort).

 

Such was Lewis Hooper’s domination of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally First Cup in 2022 that his Nissan Micra also led the Bronze Star table right up until the final round when he – and it! – were both pipped at the post for the overall title. Notwithstanding, Lewis returns with a car that, following a change in the regulations, is now allowed a limited-slip differential which, if nothing else, will require the opposition to spend even more time checking their rear-view mirrors!…

<<<<<<<<<     Lewis Hooper (Nissan Micra) – 2022 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally First Cup Winner

 

Registration for the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series automatically qualifies competitors for the Motorsport UK English Rally Championship in association with Seacon UK and, after the first round of this class-based series, there are always several joint leaders (all those who scored maximum points in their respective classes on the Malcolm Wilson Rally). It’s only as the season progresses that that number is whittled down – a task performed so efficiently by Nick Dobson in 2022 as his Escort Mk2 moved relentlessly to the top of the pile! However, without his name on the entry list for the opening encounter, we wait to see who takes up the cudgel to replace him…

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

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 Kielder 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