With the Awards Presentation for the 2021 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series having taken place just over a week ago, all eyes now turn to the start of the new season which begins with the Malcolm Wilson Rally on Saturday 12th March, and, not unnaturally, who the recipients of the 2022 BTRDA Gold®, Silver® & Bronze® Stars might possibly be.
2021 Gold Star Champions Garry Pearson and Niall Burns have expressed their desire to move on to a full British Rally Championship assault and we wish them well in their endeavours. A glance at the unseeded list of entries for the Malcolm Wilson Rally tells us that the number of possible successors is considerable…. Let’s start with a couple of crews who’ve already been there – Stephen Petch / Michael Wilkinson (2017) and Charlie Payne / Carl Williamson (2016) who are maintaining their allegiance to Ford Fiestas and are set to be joined by the likes of Elliot Payne / Patrick Walsh, Perry Gardener / Jack Bowen, Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear and multiple former Asphalt Champion Damian Cole in similar cars.
Ellliot Payne / Patrick Walsh (Fiesta Rally2) >>>>
Hoping that a R5 Skoda Fabia can maintain its winning streak at this level are Ian Bainbridge / Will Atkins (see main photo) while John Wink / Neil Shanks (Hyundai i20) and a returning Tom Llewellin / Ross Whittock (Mitsubishi Mirage) will each be harbouring thoughts diametrically opposed to those!… A further brace of Fiesta R5’s in the hands of Trevor Gamble and Eddie Lewis are joined by a second Hyundai for one-time Mitsubishi Group N front-runner Roland Llewellin. It seems as if the B13 class will be more competitive than ever with Richard Hill, Russ Thompson, Ian Joel, Peter Bayliss and Pat Naylor being joined by many more competitive Subaru’s and Evo’s.
When it comes to the two-wheel drive brigade, contenders for last year’s MRF Tyres Silver Star Championship were often also chasing Jordan Road Surfacing BTRDA Historic Cup points and, on occasions, the BTRDA R2 & R2 Junior Cup as well! Owen McMackin’s big-engined Escort eventually prevailed and, while the Irishman is unable to contest the opening round of the 2022 Series, the defence of his title is expected to begin shortly. Having had a season to forget last year, Andy Davison and Tom Murphy – who were Silver Star runner-up and Champion respectively in 2019 – are back with their rapid Talbot Sunbeam VXR. 2.5 litre Escorts are the order of the day for Rob Wright / Mark Fisher and Terry Pankhurst / Jamie Sparks, while Nick Dobson, Neil Andrew and James Lepley – younger brother of George – are pinning their hopes on smaller capacity versions.
Rob Wright / Mark Fisher (Ford Escort Mk2) >>>>>>
While on the subject of families, 2021 BTRDA Rally First Champion Tom Naylor – son of former BTRDA Production Cup winner Pat Naylor, who is now running his Mitsubishi Lancer in Class B13 – is moving on to a 2-litre Fiesta ST in an attempt to wrest the Silver Star trophy from the rear-wheel drive contingent but the favourite for that task may be Max Utting in his Fiesta ST MAX. As far as the R2’s are concerned, both ‘Senior’ & Junior, it’s encouraging to see the variety of different manufacturers producing cars that fit the bill. In addition to Fiestas for Billy Grew / Simon Rogers, Tony Simpson / Ian Bevan, Yaniv Bar / Osian Owen and Jonathan Jones / Jez Rogers, we have Lucy Wigley / Emma Cooper’s Citroen C2 and a Peugeot 208 for Scott & David Sloan.
Long-time BTRDA Rally Series supporters Baz Jordan / Arwel Jenkins are back in their Historic spec. Hillman Avenger to do battle with, among others, David Gathercole / Martyn Donn’s MkI
Escort. An interesting addition to the ranks of this year’s BTRDA Historic Cup contenders is the Datsun 1600SSS of Glyn Thomas / Alex Waterman.
<<<<<< Baz Jordan / Arwel Jenkins (Hillman Avenger)
The Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA 1400 Championship, the winners of which are awarded BTRDA Bronze Stars, has become renowned for the out-and-out speed and level of competitiveness exhibited by contenders for the title! One should never be fooled into thinking that, as the cars are only 1400cc, there’s ‘nothing to see here’! Some years ago Elfyn Evans joined in at the wheel of a Nissan Micra and triple British Rally Champion Matt Edwards won the series outright in 2010 in an MG ZR!
The 1400 Championship is another element of the BTRDA Series that attracts a wide range of cars to its ranks. At the time of writing – and in no particular order – entries have been received from Edward James (Nissan Micra Kit Car), Paddy Homan (Ford Puma), Aaron Rix (Ford Escort), Kris Farrell (Proton Satria) and Pete Gorst & Dave Brick (both Vauxhall Novas).
The aforementioned speed of these cars, not unsurprisingly, caused dramas on occasions leaving crews to reflect on the old adage that ‘to finish first, you must first finish’! ‘Keeping their heads while those around etc etc.’ paid dividends for Adrian & Matt Walk during 2021 as their 1400C Ford Ka came out on top of the category on the Woodpecker Stages and 2nd on the Cambrian Rally. They’re back for more of the same and will have a number of Nissan Micras and the Talbot Samba of Mat & Dan Evans for company.
<<<<< Adrian & Matt Walk (1400cc Ford Ka)
So, fingers crossed for a full eight-round Series in 2022! We can’t wait and, judging by the number of entries received by the Malcolm Wilson Rally organisers, we’re not the only ones!….
All photos © Kevin Money & Malcolm Almond
On-line Registration: BTRDA annual membership is £30 which gives automatic eligibility to all BTRDA Rally Series and English Rally Championship events. The BTRDA Rally Series registration fee also includes registration for the Motorsport UK 2022 English Rally Championship and is £50 for Drivers and £20 for Co-drivers,
BTRDA membership and Rally Championship registration is again FREE to new BTRDA members under the age of 25 on 1st Jan 2022 for their first year of registration.
Log in to the membership website www.btrdamembership.com If you have forgotten any of your login details, just follow the on-screen instructions. If you have not been a member before you will need to register a new account. In all cases the first part of the process is to join BTRDA (British Trial & Rally Driver Association) and then register for the forest rally championship.