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

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

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

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

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

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

<<<   Dave & Toby Brick (1400cc Nova)

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

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

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

On-line Registration:  BTRDA annual membership is £30 which gives automatic eligibility to all BTRDA Rally Series and English Rally Championship events. The BTRDA Rally Series registration fee also includes registration for the Motorsport UK 2022 English Rally Championship and is £50 for Drivers and £20 for Co-drivers,  BTRDA membership and Rally Championship registration is again FREE to new BTRDA members under the age of 25 on 1st Jan 2022 for their first year of registration.

Log in to the membership website www.btrdamembership.com  If you have forgotten any of your login details, just follow the on-screen instructions. If you have not been a member before you will need to register a new account.  In all cases the first part of the process is to join BTRDA (British Trial & Rally Driver Association) and then register for the forest rally championship.

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