News

Welcome to the 2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series

Serious Fun’ is our tag line and we have every expectation that 2020 will live up to that ethos.

The 2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series is open to all stage rally cars and includes a broad spread of categories and competition classes, so there is something for everyone.  The 2020 Regulations can be viewed via the Competitors section of this website.  The calendar includes 7 very popular one-day forest events with the final championship results based on your best 5 scores. We welcome the Scottish Rally to the Series for the first time. This event is celebrating its 75th year and promises to be a great addition to the calendar.

    • Visit Conwy CAMBRIAN RALLY    8th February    North Wales
    • MALCOLM WILSON RALLY    14th March    Lake District
    • RALLYNUTS STAGES RALLY    18th April    Mid Wales
    • The 75th SCOTTISH RALLY    6th June    Lockerbie/Scottish Borders
    • NICKY GRIST STAGES    11th July    Mid Wales
    • EVENTSIGNS WOODPECKER STAGES    5th September    Shropshire/Welsh Borders
    • TRACKROD FOREST STAGES    26th September    North Yorkshire

Competitors who have not yet registered for 2020 can do so now via the on-line BTRDA membership and registration system (see Competitor section) or print off a Registration Form and post it to Paul Price, the Membership Secretary. If all else fails, you can still register at the BTRDA desk on the Friday afternoon / early evening before the championship event.

The Registration Fee includes BTRDA club membership and registration for both the BTRDA Rally Series, the English Rally Championship and the MRF Mixed Surface Challenge. (BTRDA membership gives eligibility to all BTRDA Rally Series and English Rally Championship events). There is a £10 discount if both members of the crew register together.
NB: BTRDA membership and Rally Championship registration is FREE to new BTRDA members under the age of 25 on 1st Jan 2020 for their first year of registration.

CHAMPIONSHIP SPONSORS AND SUPPORTERS
We are pleased to confirm that all our sponsors from last year are continuing with us including JORDAN Road Surfacing who are supporting the BTRDA Historic Cup, Fuchs Lubricants who are supporting the BTRDA Bronze Star (1400) Championship and Revolution Wheels, Install Automation Ltd, Mintex, and REIS who will again be providing invaluable support for the championship and its competitors.
Our new title sponsor for the BTRDA Rally Series is MRF TYRES through our old friend Jerry Freeman of Service & Sport. Jerry said “we are thrilled MRF are to be sponsoring the BTRDA Rally Series for the next three years and we hope to help the championship
prosper and innovate.” Contact Jerry on 07789 392080 or 01942 218498 or via email [email protected] for exciting deals exclusive to our championship contenders.
We are grateful to all our sponsors and we look forward to working with them during the forthcoming year.

New for 2020 is the MRF Mixed-Surface Rally Challenge. It is open to vehicles that comply with the Motorsport UK Safety and Technical Regulations for Special Stage Rallies.  All MRF Mixed-Surface Challenge cars must use MRF branded tyres on every event, but the tread pattern and profile are free. See MRF Motorsport Tyres in UK at Service & Sport  Tel 07789 392080 or 01942 218498 or e-mail [email protected] 

The MRF Mixed-Surface Challenge includes a selection of the best UK forest and asphalt stage rallies. The final points tables will be based on a competitor’s best 6 scores.

        •  CAMBRIAN RALLY (G)    8th February    North Wales
        •  MALCOLM WILSON RALLY (G)    14th March    Lake District
        •  TENDRING & CLACTON RALLY (A)    25th/26th April    East Anglia
        •  The  75th SCOTTISH RALLY (G)    6th June    Lockerbie/Scottish Borders
        •  NICKY GRIST STAGES (G)    11th July    Mid Wales
        •  MEWLA RALLY (A)    30th August Epynt,    Mid Wales
        •  POKERSTARS RALLY LEG 1 (A)    2nd October    Isle of Man
        •  POKERSTARS RALLY LEG 2 (A)    3rd October    Isle of Man

There are 7 competition classes and the scoring system will reflect achievement against other registered competitors in the same vehicle class and the level of championship competition in that class. (see Regulations in the Competitor section of this site for more details) The ST Trophy will follow the MRF Tyres Mixed Surface Challenge in 2020.

DECALS – FIRST ISSUE AND REPLACEMENT
Championship decals will be posted out to all drivers who are registered for 2020, up to the 31st January so you should receive them in time to put them on before the first event.  These decals (1 x screen strip and 2 x sponsor panels- 375mm x 265mm; one for each side of the car) must be displayed on the rally car to qualify for Championship points. Those not registered by 31st January can collect them from the BTRDA Signing-On desk of your first event in the BTRDA series. Replacement decals are available, but a small charge may be made to cover admin costs.
ON EVENT FUEL / RE-FUEL
Vital Equipment will be at all events in the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series. We strongly emphasise the convenience, safety and organisational benefits that using the Vital Equipment re-fuel facility provides for all competitors. To order your fuel please use the on-line order facility. www.vitalequipment.co.uk/pages/btrda-rally-series-fuel-order-form   or Tel: 01981 241169.

Main photo is 2019 BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup winners Perry Gardener / Keaton Williams who also won a free entry in the Wales Rally GB National Rally thanks to the Road to Wales initiative.

Boost for the BTRDA Historic Cup

The BTRDA is very pleased to confirm that JORDAN Road Surfacing will continue their support for the BTRDA Historic Cup in 2020.
On each round of the BTRDA Rally Series there will be a prize fund of £500 with the highest placed BTRDA Historic Cup driver receiving £250, the 2nd placed driver £150 and the 3rd £100. At the end of the year the overall BTRDA Historic Champion will be presented with the prestigious AC de Monaco Trophy at the BTRDA awards ceremony.

BTRDA Rally Committee Chairman, Neil Cross said “These are great prizes for the successful Historic Cup competitors to win on each of our 2020 events. We hope that these incentives will encourage the clubman Historic competitors to come and compete on the BTRDA Rally Series events and enjoy the classic forest stages around the country.”

These prizes for BTRDA Historic Cup competitors add to the BTRDA Rally Series incentives already announced which include : –

Revolution Competition Wheels – End of year prize of 4 Revolution Competition Wheels for the leading drivers in Gold Star, Silver Star, Fuchs Lubricants Bronze Star, Rallye R2 Cup, Historic Cup and Production Cup.  [total 24 wheels]

The Install Automation Ltd Junior Drivers award has been donated by Adam Kent, the 1998 BTRDA Gold Star Rally Champion. It provides a £2,500 prize fund for a leading BTRDA Junior Driver* to be used for entries to events in the 2021 BTRDA Rally Series. The winner will be chosen by the BTRDA Rallies Committee from a short-list of the three drivers with the highest total points score in the 2020 BTRDA Junior Championship.

Road to Wales – A free entry to Wales Rally GB National Rally (approx £1,000) for the winner of the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup.

Registration for the 2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series, the Motorsport UK 2020 English Rally Championship supported by SEACON UK, and the MRF Tyres Mixed Surface Challenge (one registration covers all) can be completed on-line [see Competitors page] or by post to the BTRDA Membership Secretary. Competitors are encouraged to register a.s.a.p. so that we can post out the championship decals before the first round of the Series. Competitor registration and BTRDA membership is free to new members under 25 for their first year with BTRDA.

2020 BTRDA Rally Series Regulations and Registration forms are also available at the Autosport Show from the main MRF Tyres stand (No 1250) from 9th – 12th January.

Entries for the 2020 Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally have started to arrive, and the organisers have confirmed that all the forest stages have been regraded / reinstated by Rally4Wales and are in excellent condition. This combined a compact road route and the Service Area in the heart of Llandudno Town makes this a excellent event for the start the 2020 BTRDA Rally Series.

The main photo is 2019 BTRDA Historic Cup winners George Lepley / Tom Woodburn (Avenger BRM) on the 2019 Plains Rally

Registrations open for the 67th year of SERIOUS FUN…!

The BTRDA are pleased to announce the 2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series and confirm that the 2020 championship registration is now open.
The 2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series encompasses the 67th BTRDA Gold Star® and Silver Star® Rally Championships, plus the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star (1400’s) and the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally First Championships and includes the JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup, BTRDA Production Cup, BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup and BTRDA Rallye R5 Cup.
The BTRDA Rally Series is the most popular stage rally championship in the UK and will continue to provide competitors and followers with some Serious Fun! The calendar includes seven one-day forest stage rallies, starting with the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally in February and finishing with the Trackrod Forest Stages in North Yorkshire at the end of September. The final points tables will be based on a competitor’s best 5 scores, which provides some flexibility to fit in the events around family or business commitments or even to recover from unexpected car problem.

The 2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series (Best 5 scores to count)
• Saturday 8th February    Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally    (Llandudno)
• Saturday 14th March    Malcolm Wilson Rally    (Cockermouth)
• Saturday 18th April    Rallynuts Stages Rally    (Builth Wells)
• Saturday 6th June    75th Scottish Rally    (Lockerbie)
• Saturday 11th July    Nicky Grist Stages    (Builth Wells)
• Saturday 5th August    Woodpecker Stages    (Ludlow)
• Saturday 26th September    Trackrod Forest Stages    (Filey)
We are grateful for the wholehearted commitment of the event organising teams, because without their efforts we could not promote such a successful rally championship. Regulations and entries for the Cambrian Rally, the opening round of the 2020 BTRDA Rally Series, are now available at www.cambrianrally.com

The MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series is open to all stage rally cars and includes a broad spread of categories and competition classes, so there is something for everyone. The 2020 Regulations are published in the Competitors section of this website, along with a link to the on-line BTRDA membership and BTRDA Rally Series & Motorsport UK English Rally Championship registration. For those who prefer to register by post, there is a copy of the Registration Form that can be downloaded.  

Please note that the Registration Fee includes BTRDA club membership and registration for the BTRDA Rally Series, Motorsport UK English Rally Championship and the new MRF Mixed Surface ChallengeThere is a £10 discount if both members of the crew register together.  (BTRDA membership gives automatic eligibility to all events in the BTRDA Rally Series, English Rally Championship and MRF Mixed Surface Challenge). 

BTRDA membership and Rally Championship registration is FREE to new BTRDA members under the age of 25 on 1st Jan 2020, for their first year of registrationChampionship decals will be posted out at the end of January to drivers who have registered for the 2020 Championships. 

The BTRDA VISION for 2020..!

The 2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series – the 67th consecutive year of ‘Serious Fun’! – moves into the new decade maintaining not only its position as the UK’s most popular rally Championship but also its welcome for any vehicle complying with current Motorsport UK Technical Regulations, and with a class structure designed to cater for everyone.
The coveted MRF Tyres BTRDA Gold Star® Championship (Overall), MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star® Championship (Two-Wheel Drive) and the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA 1400 Championship (for which the overall winners will receive BTRDA Bronze Stars) return, to be joined for the first time by the BTRDA Rallye R5 Cup. As the name suggests, this will be open to any FIA-homologated R5 cars, such as Ian Bainbridge’s Skoda Fabia (illustrated above) which, as before, will also be in line for Class B14 honours.

The BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup, introduced in 2018, has proved a welcome addition to the line-up, with 16 drivers scoring points last season. Thus far, Ford Fiestas have held sway with George Lepley and Perry Gardener carrying off the spoils but, with eligible cars also available from Peugeot, Citroen, Opel, Renault and Skoda, the Blue Oval’s future domination is far from guaranteed!
Meanwhile, the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally First® Championship will now include a class for up to 1.0 litre engined cars, such as the Nissan Micra that new Toyota WRC recruit Elfyn Evans drove back in 2006!… It’s an ideal entry-level category and ‘next step’ for the F1000 Juniors.   ( Elfyn on the Wyedean  © SC Photography )

Turning to the calendar, seven of the best UK forest events are featured and each competitor’s five best scores will count towards their final tally. For the first time for a number of years, the BTRDA Series ventures north of the border in 2020 to celebrate the 75th running of the iconic Scottish Rally.  The full programme is :
   8th February    Cambrian Rally / Llandudno
   14th March    Malcolm Wilson Rally / Cockermouth
   18th April    Rallynuts Stages / Royal Welsh Showground
   6th June    75th Scottish Rally / Lockerbie
   11th July   Nicky Grist Stages / Builth Wells
   5th September    Woodpecker Stages / Ludlow
   26th September    Trackrod Forest Stages / Filey

Registration for the 2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series will be available in early December via the Competitors section of this website   www.btrdarally.com/competitors

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE – a valuable prize…!

The BTRDA Rally Committee are very pleased to announce that the 2019 Install Automation Ltd ‘Looking to the Future’ prize has been awarded to Zak Hughes who was the winner of the MRF Tyres ST Trophy in 2019.  This valuable prize which has been donated by Adam Kent the 1998 BTRDA Gold Star Champion, will provide a £2,500 fund to be used for event entry fees in the 2020 MRF TYres BTRDA Rally Series. The prize will be presented to Zak at the 2019 Awards Evening which takes place on Saturday 11th January 2020.   (Details to follow soon).

This valuable prize will continue on the BTRDA Rally Series in 2020 courtesy of Install Automation Ltd and will be awarded to another BTRDA Junior driver.

The 2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series calendar has received Motorsport UK approval and is as published in the earlier News Item HERE      2020 registrations will open on 1st December.

The image in Zak Hughes / Tom Wood on the Plains Rally   (Courtesy of Malc Almond)

Congratulations to the 2019 BTRDA Award Winners

The Trackrod Forest Stages in North Yorkshire rounded off another very successful BTRDA Rally Series sponsored by JORDAN Road Surfacing. The final 2019 BTRDA Rally Series points scores can be found HERE

Congratulations to all the 2019 BTRDA Rally Champions.   Euan Thorburn and Paul Beaton are the 66th BTRDA Gold Star Champions in a hugely successful year when they dominated both the BTRDA Rally Series and the Scottish Rally Championship. George Lepley is the BTRDA Silver Star Champion Driver for the second year and Tom Murphy is the Silver Star Co-Driver Champion. In addition to the Silver Star title George has also won the BTRDA Historic Cup and the BTRDA Junior Driver. The BTRDA Bronze Star (1400) Championship titles in 2019 have been won by Callum Black and Michael Gilbey, whilst Joseph Keen is the BTRDA Rally First Champion driver and Mark Townson is the Rally First winning co-driver.

A list of all the 2019 JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series Award Winners can be found HERE   There are also some ‘Special Achievement Awards’ on the list to be presented by the BTRDA, but the winners of these trophies will not be announced until the Awards Evening. A list of all the award winners in the MAXXIS Motorsport UK 2019 English Rally Championship will be published after the final round which is the Wyedean Stages Rally on Saturday 9th November.

The awards for the 2019 JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series and the MAXXIS Motorsport UK 2019 English Rally Championship will be presented at the 2019 Dinner and Awards Ceremony which takes place on Saturday 11th January 2020 in the function suite at the Drayton Manor Hotel near Tamworth, B78 3SA. This date also coincides with the 2020 Autosport Show at the NEC so competitors would be able to combine the two events if they wish to do so.  Ticket Application forms for the Awards Evening and Dinner [ £45 ] and details of the preferential room rates [ £60 ] available for BTRDA guests at the at the Drayton Manor Hotel will be published shortly.

The 2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series calendar has received Motorsport UK approval and is as published in the earlier News Item HERE       2020 registrations will open on 1st December.

Main photo is Euan Thorburn / Paul Beaton on the Plains Rally.   (courtesy of Kevin Money)

ALL CHANGE for 2020 – BUT SERIOUS FUN GUARANTEED…!

The British Trial & Rally Drivers’ Association (BTRDA), promoters of the BTRDA Rally Series and the Motorsport UK English Rally Championship, is delighted to announce that both will benefit from new headline sponsors in 2020.

The 2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series heralds the first of a three-year deal which begins with the Llandudno-based Cambrian Rally on 8th February.
Jerry Freeman of Service & Sport, the UK distributors of MRF Tyres, commented “MRF are excited and very proud to be associated with the BTRDA, we see it as a big step forward in our development in Europe. There’s no doubt that the BTRDA is the most popular Rally Series in the UK and is home from home and where I started competing. All of us in MRF are really looking forward to working with the BTRDA over the next few years.” 

Seven of the UK’s top National ‘B’ forest stage rallies are included in the calendar which concludes on the North York Moors with the Trackrod Forest Stages at the end of September. New for 2020 will be the 75th running of the Scottish Rally, based at Lockerbie just off the M74. The final points table will be based on a competitor’s best 5 scores, which provides some flexibility to fit around family or business commitments.
2020 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series calendar* (subject to final Motorsport UK confirmation)

• Cambrian Rally                8th February
• Malcolm Wilson Rally      14th March
• Rallynuts Stages Rally    18th April
• The 75th Scottish Rally    6th June
• Nicky Grist Stages           11th July
• Woodpecker Stages        5th September
• Trackrod Forest Stages   26th September

The MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series will continue to be open to all stage rally cars and will include a broad spread of categories and competition classes so there is something for everyone. In addition to the Gold Star, Silver Star and Bronze Star (1400) championships, the 2020 BTRDA Rally Series will include BTRDA Rally First, BTRDA Historic Cup, Production Cup, Rallye R2 Cup and Fiesta ST Trophy.
Meanwhile, regular BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup Competitor and long-term supporter of the BTRDA, Tony Simpson, will be sponsoring the Motorsport UK 2020 English Rally Championship through his International Freight Forwarding company Seacon UK Ltd. The Seacon UK Motorsport UK 2020 English Rally Championship will consist of six gravel events and begins in Cumbria with the Malcolm Wilson Rally on 14th March.

Further information about both Championships will be announced in the next few weeks.

JUST A SECOND….!

The Trackrod Forest Stages brings this year’s JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series® to a close and such has been the quality of the competition during the season that the coveted BTRDA Gold, Silver & Bronze Stars® have already been claimed. However, in addition to various other elements of the Series that are ongoing, a number of 2nd & 3rd places in each category have still to be won and lost. Hence, the classic special stages on the North York Moors will bear witness to plenty of high-speed action on 28th September!  Having secured the JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Silver Star® Rally Championship title back in July, George Lepley’s efforts had also put him in a favourable position to take a podium finish in the Gold Star Championship. Forsaking Baz Jordan’s Hillman Avenger for a Mitsubishi Lancer EVOX for the recent Woodpecker Stages, the Newark driver came away from the penultimate round of the season with a maximum points score under his belt. With dropped scores active, George can now only improve on his lowest-to-date but, on recent form, no-one should bet against him!

On the other hand, Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson (Fiesta WRC) have already suffered two DNFs and are, therefore, able to count their full score on the Trackrod towards their final total. Nevertheless, the pressure is on and the 2017 Gold Star Champions must produce a good result to stand any chance of featuring in the Top Three. After much of a season to forget, Ian Bainbridge’s 4th overall on the Woodpecker Stages in his first appearance in a Skoda Fabia R5 would seem to herald a change in fortunes – let’s hope the momentum is continued on to the North York Moors!

In spite of a campaign that hasn’t turned out as they could reasonably have expected, outgoing Class B13 Champions Ian Joel/Graeme Wood (Escort Cosworth), who finished 5th overall on last year’s Trackrod, are persevering and will be doing their best to stay out of the way of the battle to succeed them. This particular scenario features Richard Sykes/Simon Taylor (Lancer EVO9) and the Impreza of Richard Hill/Steffan Evans, who start the event on equal points, in starring roles. Another Lancer, in the hands of Petr Krizan/Lukas Sintal, currently occupies 3rd in class and, of course, we mustn’t forget that George Lepley will also be chasing B13 points!…

In the race for the BTRDA Production Cup®, title contenders Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence leave the start a minute in front of Scott Faulkner/Gareth Parry in their respective Lancers. Both crews already have five scores and, in this instance, it’s quite simple – the first one home takes the title and a likely podium place in the Gold Star Championship..! Although the MRF Fiesta ST Trophy was settled in favour of Zak Hughes / Tom Wood on the Woodpecker Stages, Manxman Steven Ormond-Smith will be attempting to wrest runner-up spot from Bobby Mitchell. Success could also see him leap-frog the Scotsman in the overall Production Cup table but, needless to say, Mitchell will have other ideas on that score!…

Andy Davison/Tom Murphy (Talbot Sunbeam VXR) have emerged victorious from the last two rounds of the Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Silver Star® Championship, such that the driver is confirmed as runner-up in the Series, but Murphy will be revelling in his new-found status as 2019 Silver Star Champion Co-driver! Contesting his first BTRDA event since the Malcolm Wilson Rally back in March, Steve Hopewell (Escort) and co-driver Clive Jones will be hoping to deny Davison/Murphy their third consecutive maximum. Meanwhile, a good run from Rob Wright (Escort) could conceivably elevate the Whitehaven driver to the final podium spot in this year’s Silver Star table.
<<<<<<<   Andy Davison/Tom Murphy – Talbot Sunbeam VXR

BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup winners Perry Gardener/Keaton Williams are busy preparing to take up their prize of a free entry on the National section of Wales Rally GB, leaving the Fiesta R2’s of James Giddings and Tony Simpson/Ian Bevan, plus the Peugeot 208 of Ed Fossey/Will Rutherford to close the season out. They will be joined by Fiesta ST champions Zak Hughes/Tom Wood using a Fiesta R2 for the first time.

Having been absent for several rounds, series sponsor Baz Jordan returns on the Trackrod in an Historic spec. Subaru Legacy. His presence will certainly add spice to the BTRDA Historic Cup® battle currently being waged between the Escorts of David Gathercole (MkI RS1600) and Steve Ward (Mk2), both of whom are chasing the runner-up spot. After a fraught season with their Mitsubishi Galant, Tom Coughtrie/Ian Fraser will be looking to end it on a high, while a good result from Ben Friend/Cliff Simmons’ Escort could possibly see it finish 3rd overall in the Historic Cup.

David Gathercole (MkI RS1600)   >>>>>>>

Steve Black/Paul Morris are the leading Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA 1400® Championship crew in their Suzuki Swift, while Richard Jordan/James Gratton-Smith will be out to make up some lost ground caused when their Proton Satria broke a driveshaft last time out. Class 1400C is going down to the wire…. The Evans brothers’ Peugeot 205 held sway early in the season, but the ever-present Micra of Richard Garnett/Robert Gilham took centre stage on the Plains Rally. Neither car finished the Nicky Grist Stages and the Evans’ were then absent from the Woodpecker. So, a grandstand finish is on the cards, and it could go either way – brace yourselves!…

Current leader Joseph Keen’s absence from Filey means that, as long as Graham Roberts (MG ZR) finishes the Trackrod, he will become the BTRDA Rally First® Champion, no matter what Wesley Gilford (Fiesta ST) can do to throw a spanner in the works!

Graham Roberts – BTRDA Rally First MG ZR  >>>>>>>>

The Trackrod Forest Stages is the final counting round towards the new BTRDA Junior Driver incentive which has been donated by Adam Kent, the 1998 BTRDA Gold Star Rally Champion.
Adam’s company, Install Automation Ltd, will provide a £2,500 prize fund for the leading BTRDA Junior Driver to be used for entries to events in the 2020 BTRDA Rally Series. The winner will be chosen by the BTRDA Rallies Committee from a short-list of the three drivers with the highest total points score on the four rounds of the 2019 BTRDA Junior Championship to take place since the initiative was announced, beginning with the Plains Rally in May. Following the Woodpecker, George Lepley (57 points) has retaken the lead with George Clarke (42 points) now up to second and Matthew Hirst currently in third with 39 points. The prize will be presented by Adam at the 2019 BTRDA Rally Series Awards Evening in January.

Filey also welcomes contenders for the MAXXIS Motorsport UK 2019 English Rally Championship although, unlike the BTRDA Rally Series, this still has another round to go after the Trackrod. However, even at this advanced stage in the season, it’s anyone’s guess who’ll eventually walk off with the title. Yes – that man George Lepley leads the charge, but only by a single point from Callum Black (MG ZR) and three from Andy Davison. One tiny mistake could prove costly and considerably alter the look of the leaderboard. Rob Wright, James Giddings and Scott Faulkner are also less than ten points adrift of the overall leader, with up to 25 available on each round!….

The first car leaves the start of the Trackrod Forest Stages at St Helens in the Park, Wykeham, at 09.01 on Saturday 28th September and, following approximately 45 miles of single-use special stages in the classic forests of Dalby, Langdale, Cropton Staindale and Gale Rigg, returns for the Ceremonial Finish at the Beach in Filey during the afternoon.

The main photo is George Lepley’s Mitsubishi Lancer in full flight during the Woodpecker Stages!    All photos © Kevin Money & Malc Almond.

ALL CHANGE AT THE TOP !….

Sixty & Worcestershire Motor Club, organisers of the Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages, the penultimate round of the 2019 JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series®, has amassed a superb entry of 160 crews, all of whom will be making a beeline for Ludlow Racecourse at the end of the month! One crew is missing from the list, however – Euan Thorburn and Paul Beaton have won all five of the BTRDA Rally Series rounds so far this year, such that they were confirmed as JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Gold Star® Rally Champions following the Nicky Grist Stages in July.  (Subsequently they were also crowned 2019 Scottish Rally Championship winners).  So, who’ll take their place at the top of the leader board this time?

2016 Woodpecker Stages winners, Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson have recovered from a dreadful start to the season, posting two 2nd places and one 3rd in recent times, but must now produce similar results on both the remaining events if their Fiesta is to end its campaign with a podium finish in the JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Gold Star® Rally Championship. Charlie Payne/Carl Williamson (Fiesta R5), the 2016 Gold Star Champions, were missing from the Ludlow line-up twelve months ago. However, returning once again, they’ll be looking to improve on the 6th place finish they achieved in 2017. Ian Bainbridge has forsaken his recalcitrant Impreza and will be out in a Skoda Fabia R5, while Sam Bilham/Patrick Walsh’s hard work acclimatising themselves to their Fiesta is beginning to pay dividends. 3rd overall last time out sees them moving up the table but, in a situation similar to that of Petch/Wilkinson, they’ve already posted two DNFs and no longer have the luxury of being able to drop a score.

Class B13 has been somewhat akin to a roller-coaster ride for most of its contestants but, having thus far avoided all the pitfalls that have taken turns to claim their rivals, Richard Sykes/Simon Taylor (Lancer EVO9) lead the table as they arrive in Ludlow. However, with dropped scores now coming into play, they can only improve on those already on the board, whereas the likes of Ian Joel/Graeme Wood (Escort Cosworth), Matthew Hirst/Declan Dear (EVO9) and Richard Hill/Steffan Evans (Impreza) can (must?…) count everything they earn on the Woodpecker towards their final tallies.  Not exactly a ‘wild card’ but, having clinched both the BTRDA Silver Star® Championship & Historic Cup titles with two rounds to spare, George Lepley now joins the B13 brigade in an EVO X. OK, he’s not in a position to challenge for end-of-season class honours but, having taken to everything else he’s driven like a duck to water, the ‘regulars’ better be on their mettle if they’re not to find themselves upstaged!

Scott Faulkner/Gareth Parry’s grip on the BTRDA Production Cup slipped a bit after their Lancer EVO9 failed to finish the Nicky Grist Stages. They still lead the category but have fallen back into the clutches of the similar cars of Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence and Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy. All three crews have posted one retirement to date and six points currently separate first from third. A glance at the calendar will tell you that it’s not 5th November but, nevertheless, expect some fireworks before this one reaches its conclusion!
Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence (Lancer EVO9) on their way to winning the Production Cup on the 2018 Woodpecker.

Having taken four consecutive maximum scores, Zak Hughes/Tom Wood’s inexorable march towards this year’s MRF Fiesta ST Trophy suffered a setback on the Nicky Grist Stages when they were sidelined by a broken bottom arm. So, they still need one more good score and have two opportunities to claim it – if they don’t, they’ll leave the door open for either Scot Bobby Mitchell or Manxman Stephen Ormond-Smith….

All the two-wheel drive cars in the Woodpecker Stages entry are running at the front of the field in reverse order of seeding.  As previously discussed, George Lepley is the Silver Star Champion for the second consecutive year, but second and third places remain to be decided. Andy Davison/Tom Murphy (Talbot Sunbeam VXR), who retired from the season-opening Cambrian Rally, came out on top last time – more of the same on the Woodpecker would do their chances a power of good as the two crews ahead of them in the table – Perry Gardener/Keaton Williams and Tony Simpson/Ian Bevan (both R2 Fiestas) – already have the obligatory five scores….

<<<<<<< Andy Davison / Tom Murphy on the Nicky Grist Stages

Gardener/Williams are confirmed as 2019 BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup winners – for which they’ve earned a free entry on the National section of Wales Rally GB – but there is still work to be done in BTRDA Silver Star Championship terms and anyway, as they live in Ludlow, it’d be rude not to show their faces at the Racecourse at some point over the weekend!….

Perry Gardener/Keaton Williams (Fiesta) – BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup Winners >>

Having been absent as a competitor for much of the season, BTRDA Rally Series sponsor Baz Jordan returns in his Avenger – you know, the one that George Lepley has used to win all and sundry!…’ – and, with the help of Arwel Jenkins, will be joining the Escorts of Steve Ward, Ben Friend and Jonathan Brace chasing BTRDA Historic Cup points.
While not in the hunt for BTRDA Championship points, it’s interesting to note that five-times Woodpecker Stages winner (1988 / 91 / 92 / 93 / 96) Richard Gough, who has retained his ex Rothmans Ford Escort Mk2 since those heady days all that time ago, will be taking part once again!

And so to the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA 1400 Championship (BTRDA Bronze Star) which, to put it mildly, is finely poised! The top four drivers in the table – Chris Powell (Talbot Sunbeam), Steve Black (Suzuki Swift), Dominic Hodge (Nissan Micra) & Noel Lappin (Ford Escort Mk2) – have all maintained 100% finishing records to date, while 5th-placed Callum Black (MG ZR)  missed the first round but has since scored three maximums and a third…. Indeed, he can count himself very lucky to have finished the last round as, by the time he and Michael Gilbey arrived back in Builth Wells, the oil pressure warning light had been glowing for far too long!… All five cars will leave Ludlow Racecourse in pristine condition but, as to the order in which they return, your guess is as good as anyone else’s!…   

                                                                                     Callum Black and Michael Gilbey (MG ZR) on the Plains Rally….. >>>>>>

Wesley Gilford/Mark Townson’s BTRDA Rally First Championship specification Fiesta ST will have the honour of leading the contestants away from the start followed, one minute later, by the MG ZR of series leader Joseph Keen. Having had a season to forget until recently, Sam & Liam Johnson will be hoping that their Seat Arosa’s maximum score on the Nicky Grist Stages wasn’t a flash in the pan.

The MAXXIS Motorsport UK English Rally Championship continues on the Woodpecker Stages…. and George Lepley will be hoping to continue to lead it! The class-based series is a very close-fought affair – currently, a mere five points separate first from tenth drivers! Breathing down Lepley’s neck, Callum Black’s MG ZR has a slender one-point advantage over Perry Gardener’s Fiesta, Andy Davison’s Sunbeam and the Escort Mk2 of Tim Phelps.
Pretenders to the English Championship crown have three more events, including the Woodpecker, Trackrod Forest Rally and the Wyedean Stages, on which to assert themselves as they strive to add a Motorsport UK-backed Championship title to their rallying CVs. Good luck to them all!…

The first car is due to leave the start of the Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages at 08.31 on the Saturday morning and, following the completion of five special stages – two in Radnor, two in Haye Park and one in Hopton – totalling 44 miles, returns to the Racecourse at 16.45.

Main photo is Richard Sykes / Simon Taylor (Lancer EVO9) – Class B13 leaders, competing on the Plains Rally

CAN THORBURN PUT GRIST TO HIS MILL?.…

Euan Thorburn and co-driver Paul Beaton have won all four rounds of the 2019 JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Rally Series so far. One more victory from the three remaining events in the calendar will put the destination of this year’s JRS BTRDA Gold Star® Championship crown beyond doubt – and the first opportunity for them comes on the Nicky Grist Stages. Their Focus WRC arrives in Builth Wells fresh from its victory on the Argyll Stages, the latest round of the Motorsport UK Scottish Rally Championship – which Thorburn/Beaton also lead – and closing out the first part of their plan would give them more time to concentrate on the second!…    The photo above is Euan Thorburn / Paul Beaton (Focus WRC) in characteristic pose on the Plains Rally!

Following a miserable start to their campaign, 2017 Nicky Grist Stages winners Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson are now heading in the right direction once more! Their Fiesta WRC was 2nd overall on the Plains Rally but, unlike the flying Scotsmen, they have no margin for error between now and the end of the season if they are to make an impact on the leader board! Following a retirement on the Plains with damage sustained by a puncture, Sam Bilham, partnered by the ubiquitous Patrick Walsh, could also do with a good result in mid Wales. He’s certainly getting the hang of his Fiesta but, with two DNFs already, pressure is mounting. Fiesta R5s also appear amongst the leading entries in the very competitive hands of Connor McCloskey and Martyn & Dawn England. Meanwhile, Theo Bengry/Les Forsbrook are having another outing in their recently acquired Proton Iriz R5 in the hope of improving on the 3rd in class they netted on the Plains.

In direct contrast to the overall Gold Star situation, Class B13 has produced different winners on each of the four rounds. Although not one of them, Richard Hill has kept his nose clean and produced four more-than-adequate results to put his Impreza marginally ahead of Richard Sykes/Simon Taylor whose Lancer EVO9 triumphed last time out on the Plains. Having recorded DNFs on the first two events, Matthew Hirst/Declan Dear put their EVO9 into top spot on the Rallynuts Stages but still have considerable ground to make up while the defending champions, Ian Joel/Graeme Wood (Escort Cosworth), and Ian Bainbridge (Impreza) have, thus far, only finished one event apiece…..

<   Scott Faulkner/Gareth Parry’s results in their Group N Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9 have been sufficiently impressive to put them into runners-up spot in the overall JORDAN Road Surfacing Gold Star® Championship points table!  It’ll therefore come as no surprise to learn that they’re also leading the BTRDA Production Cup. Their nearest challengers, who have also maintained a 100% finishing record, are MRF Fiesta ST Trophy leaders Zak Hughes/Tom Wood. The Lancers of former Cup champions Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence & Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy have both retired from one event and, consequently, have some catching-up to do. However, as Faulkner/Parry have already amassed three maximums, anyone else with designs on this year’s title better get a move on!…

We’ve mentioned before that George Lepley seems oblivious to the fact that it’s not in the script for an Historic spec. car to be leading the JORDAN Road Surfacing BTRDA Silver Star® Championship. However, as he’s already accrued four maximums at the wheel of Baz Jordan’s Hillman Avenger, there’s presently some frantic re-writing of that script going on as, in a similar situation to Euan Thorburn, one more and it’s game-over for the opposition! Co-driver Tom Woodburn missed the opening event and, consequently, doesn’t feature (should that read ‘yet’?…) at the top of his particular points table. Needless to say, then, that the BTRDA Historic Cup is also currently heading the Newark driver’s way….                                                                                            George Lepley / Tom Woodburn on the Plains Rally    >

In Silver Star terms, Perry Gardener / Keaton Williams (Fiesta R2) are maintaining a close eye on Lepley – or as close as is possible! – but, at the same time, with three maximums and a second, they’re seemingly on course to succeed him to the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup. If they’re still in that position after the Woodpecker Stages at the beginning of September, they’ll be in line for the prize drive on the National section of Wales Rally GB through the event’s ‘Road to Wales’ scheme.

<    Perry Gardener/Keaton Williams (Fiesta) – BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup leaders

Tony Simpson/Ian Bevan are the only R2 Cup contenders who’ve managed to beat the Ludlow crew so far – a feat they achieved on the Malcolm Wilson Rally and which helps to keep them in touch with the leaders. The Tordoffs, Mat & Tim, are the only other R2 hopefuls with four scores to their credit and there’s still time for the make-up of the leader board to alter significantly before the end of term!

Callum Black/Michael Gilbey let the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA 1400 Championship start without them but, since they joined in the fun on Round 2, their MG ZR has not been headed.  Three ‘wins’ see the pair lurking dangerously down in 5th place in the table, thanks in no small way to the reliability of the opposition. Each of the four drivers in front of them – Chris Powell (Talbot Sunbeam), Steve Black (Suzuki Swift), Dominic Hodge (Nissan Micra) & Noel Lappin (Ford Escort) – have maintained clean sheets but, as dropped scores come into play after the Nicky Grist Stages, those maximums will come into their own!                                                      Callum Black / Michael Gilby 

While brothers Mat & Dan Evans (Peugeot 205) had been in imperious form in the battle for Class 1400C honours on each of the first three rounds, they’d been unable to shake off the attentions of Richard Garnett’s Micra. Then, last time out, the tables were turned, and the Peugeot was beaten into 2nd place by just 15s. So, whose turn is it this time? Due to the Evans’ non-availability for the penultimate round of the Series, this is one that could well have to wait until the Trackrod Forest Rally at the end of September before the outcome is known….

Joseph Keen’s MG ZR leads the BTRDA Rally First Championship but the sole aim of the 2-litre version of Graham Roberts will be to reduce its advantage over the remaining events…

The NG Stages is the second of the four counting rounds of the new BTRDA Junior Driver incentive which has been donated by Adam Kent, the 1998 BTRDA Gold Star Rally Champion.  Adam’s company, Install Automation Ltd, will provide a £2,500 prize fund for a leading BTRDA Junior Driver to be used for entries to events in the 2020 BTRDA Rally Series. The winner will be chosen from a short-list of the three drivers with the highest total points score on the final 4 events in the 2019 BTRDA Junior Championship.  After the Plains Rally it is George Lepley, Matthew Hirst and Zak Hughes who are in the frame, but at this early stage it is still all to play for.

The first of the 125 crews will leave the start of the Nicky Grist Stages in Builth Wells at 8.31am on Saturday morning and on the menu are 44 miles of special stages in some of the classic mid-Wales forests. Cars then begin arriving back at the finish from 3.30pm that afternoon.

All photos © Kevin Money / Malcolm Almond.