The second round of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series takes contenders to the Lake District and the Malcolm Wilson Rally which is an event that the current MRF Tyres BTRDA Gold Star® Championship leader, Stephen Petch, has yet to win. However, his dad – Steve – is a three-time Malcolm Wilson Rally victor, the most recent coming exactly twenty years ago! So, having set a cracking pace to come out on top of the opening round of the Series, can Stephen and co-driver Michael Wilkinson (Fiesta WRC) maintain their momentum and repeat the success?…. [The Main photo is Stephen Petch / Michael Wilkinson on the recent Cambrian Rally].
One of their main adversaries in the battle to succeed Euan Thorburn to the BTRDA Gold Star crown, Charlie Payne (Fiesta WRC), was the winner here in 2016 – coincidentally on his way to claiming the title for himself. Now, with Patrick Walsh ensconced in the co-driver’s seat and following a retirement last time out, the pair will be looking to put their campaign back on track. Ian Bainbridge’s Fabia was runner-up to Petch on the Cambrian but another Skoda crew whose season got off to a less-than-satisfactory start was Dylan Davies / Llion Williams. They’ll be relishing the chance to considerably improve their standing in Gold Star, Class B14 and the new BTRDA Rallye R5 Cup. Chasing similar goals will be the Fiestas of Martyn & Dawn England, Sacha Kakad/James Aldridge and Hugh Brunton/Paula Swinscoe.
Class B13 is as popular as ever with the Top Four finishers on the Cambrian Rally – George Lepley/Tom Woodburn (Lancer EVO X), Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy (Lancer EVO 9), Ian Joel/Graeme Wood (Escort Cosworth) and Maxx Bradshaw (Lancer EVO 2) – all heading for M Sport’s premises in Dovenby for the start of the Malcolm Wilson Rally. They are joined by Matthew Jackson/Will Atkins in their Subaru Impreza who aim to break up the Mitsubishi dominance. Matthew Hirst/Declan Dear (Lancer EVO 9) failed to make it to the finish ramp in North Wales and it goes without saying that there is now extra pressure on a result this time.
By finishing ahead of their main rivals Scott Faulkner/Steve Link on the first round – i.e. having fewer time-consuming problems! – Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence (Lancer EVO 9) lead the BTRDA Production Cup. Both crews are set to resume their quest for supremacy in the Lake District and, should something untoward happen, several Fiesta STs will be lurking in the background ready to capitalise on any such misfortune! In spite of their vehicles’ relative lack of power and traction in comparison to their four-wheel drive turbo-charged counterparts, the presence of Bobby Mitchell, Jonny Sproat & Callum Hughes must be regarded as a potential threat!
Naylor/Lawrence are also joint-leaders of the MRF Tyres Mixed-Surface Challenge following the opening encounter, a position they currently share with Ewan Tindall/Andrew Roughead (Fiesta R2). Joel/Wood (Escort Cosworth) and Chris Powell/Jim Lewis (Talbot Sunbeam) are suitably placed to alter the look of the leader board before the Challenge then heads off to the first asphalt event in its eight-round calendar.
Andy Davison/Tom Murphy took their Talbot Sunbeam VXR to maximum MRF Tyres BTRDA Silver Star® Championship points on the Cambrian Rally, leaving no-one in any doubt as to the driver’s intentions in terms of improving on his 2019 runner-up spot! However, opposition could come from several different directions! Baz Jordan/Arwel Jenkins (Hillman Avenger) and Nick Dobson/Jonathan Turnbull (Escort Mk2) begin their quests for glory in the north-west, David Gathercole and Ben Friend’s Historic MkI & Mk2 Escorts cannot be discounted, along with a whole host of Fiestas that will also be squabbling over BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup points.
<<<<<<<<<<< Andy Davison/Tom Murphy (Sunbeam VXR) – BTRDA Silver Star® Championship Leaders After Round 1
In that latter category, Motorsport UK 2020 English Rally Championship sponsor Tony Simpson and co-driver Ian Bevan join the fray on the Malcolm Wilson Rally where they’ll come up against the similar Fiestas R2’s of leaders Perry Gardener/Andrew Sankey, Rob Wilson/Martin Haggett and the aforementioned Ewan Tindall/Andrew Roughead who are amongst the 10 BTRDA R2 Cup crews. Now, there’s a scrap to keep an eye on!…
The Cambrian Rally proved problematic for a number of front-running Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA 1400 Championship contenders but, avoiding the pitfalls that befell others, Chris Powell/Jim Lewis (Talbot Sunbeam) returned home to Herefordshire as leaders of the race to claim the 2020 BTRDA Bronze Stars. They now journey up to north-west England with the express intention of consolidating – and, hopefully, extending! – their advantage. The likes of Dave Brick/Rob Woodhouse (Nova), Aaron Rix/Rob Cook (Escort) and Richard Jordan/James Gratton-Smith (MG ZR) may have other ideas, but you get the drift!…
Chris Powell/Jim Lewis (Sunbeam) – BTRDA Bronze Star Championship Leaders After Round 1 >>>>>>>
Similarly, Dominic Hodge/Stefan Arndt (Nissan Micra) emerged victorious from a very closely fought Class 1400C battle on the Cambrian Rally and, now, Richard Garnett/Rob Gilham (Micra), Sam & Liam Johnson (Seat Arosa) and Dale Glover/Sean Ward (Vauxhall Nova) will be on hand to ensure that whoever comes out on top this time will have had to work for it!
Simon Double/Jessica Mitchell (MG ZR) will put their ‘nil points’ on Round 1 of the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally First Championship behind them and turn their attention to keeping the similar car of Joe Keen/Paul Barbet in their rear-view mirror – hopefully!…
The Motorsport UK 2020 English Rally Championship, in association with Seacon UK, begins on the Malcolm Wilson Rally, the first of a six all-forest event calendar that rewards success within its class structure, rather than from out-and-out speed. Hence, the eventual winner could come from any of the seven capacity classes – indeed, the 2019 winner was Steve Black in his 1400cc Suzuki Swift!…
<<<<<<<< Motorsport UK English Rally Championship Sponsor Tony Simpson (Fiesta R2)
The first car leaves the start of the Malcolm Wilson Rally from M-Sport at 7.00am on Saturday 14th March for seven special stages in the Lake District, before the finish on the outskirts of Penrith, from 14.30.
Further information on the Motorsport UK 2020 English Rally Championship in association with Seacon UK and be found at www.englishrally.co.uk
All photos © Kevin Money / Malcolm Almond.