Author Archives: Howard Wilcock

‘POINTING’ IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION!…

Preview of the Brick & Steel Border Counties Rally.
Defending BTRDA Gold Star® Rally Champion Elliot Payne and co-driver Patrick Walsh start the Brick & Steel Border Counties Rally as leaders of both the Fuchs Lubricants Gold Star Championship and the Reis Motorsport Insurance English Rally Championship – by the narrowest of margins!   In the 2024 Gold Star contest Their Fiesta Rally2 is currently a single point ahead of the Lancer EVO9 of Russ Thompson / Steve Link, with the winners of the recent Rallynuts Severn Valley Stages, Matthew Hirst and Declan Dear (Fiesta R5), in 3rd place.

The featured image is Elliot Payne/Patrick Walsh (Fiesta Rally2) – Reis Motorsport Insurance English Rally Championship Leaders, seen here on the Malcolm Wilson Rally. 

Although Elliot was victorious on the 2023 Border Counties, he’ll be mindful of the fact that not only were Hirst / Dear a mere 12s behind him as they arrived back in Jedburgh at the conclusion of the event, but also that Thompson / Link were just over a minute adrift.

Securing 5th overall on each of the first two BTRDA Series events this season, Scott Beattie (Fiesta R5) is right behind Hirst in the table while Vivian Hamill (Polo R5), who secured runner-up spot on the Malcolm Wilson Rally but then retired on the opening stage of the Rallynuts, could do with a result to maintain the pressure on the opposition. Liam Clark / Emily Easton-Page (Fiesta Rally2) have returned two solid performances so far and another in the Borders will do their Championship standing no harm whatsoever!

Steve Ward (Escort Mk2) will be aiming to consolidate his lead in the Protyre BTRDA Silver Star® Championship but, at the same time, Andy Davison / Tom Murphy (Sunbeam VXR) and Ben Jemison (Chevette HSR) renew their rivalry which saw the former take maximum points on the Malcolm Wilson Rally. However, Jemison did come up trumps in the Reis Motorsport Insurance BTRDA Historic Cup in which, although also currently headed by Ward courtesy of his two scores, he will be handily placed to progress – provided, obviously, that his early-season form is maintained!

<< Ben Jemison (Vauxhall Chevette HSR), the Reis Motorsport Insurance BTRDA Historic Cup Winner on the Malcolm Wilson Rally

The 2023 BTRDA Historic Cup-winning car, Ernie Graham’s MkI Escort RS1600, is now in the hands of his son, Will, who was 2nd in class on the Rallynuts, while a DNF on the Malcolm Wilson leaves Ernie & Patricia Lee (BMW325i) just looking for a finish!
Former Class B11 winner – and 2022 Motorsport UK English Rally Champion! – Nick Dobson (Escort) is back but, having missed the season-opener, continued where he’d left off by taking maximum BTRDA class points on the Rallynuts. The Ilkley driver will now be looking for a similar haul on the Border Counties!…

Having had a false start in their bid for BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup glory, with retirement on the Malcolm Wilson Rally, Lewis Hooper / Rhys Edwards (Fiesta) have begun the fight-back with a ‘win’ in Wales and now have to deal with the similar cars of Garry Whitney / Karl Keating and Alfie Hammond if this trend is to continue…

By dint of class wins in his 1400C Nova on both Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star® Championship events to-date, Will Banks’ name is in lights at the top of the table! Another performance of a similar calibre could well consolidate his and Matt Baddeley’s positions as, on the one hand, neither of the category winners so far (Callum & Steve Black – Suzuki Swift) will be present this time and, following a troubled run on the Severn Valley Stages, defending Bronze Star Champions Nigel & Kaz Jenkins (Nova) are left with some catching-up to do…

                                   Will Banks/Matt Baddeley (Nova) – Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Championship Leaders   >>>>

Chris Greenall (Nova) and Chris Bush / Robert Bryn (Corsa) will be approaching the event from very different perspectives – Greenall has maintained a 100% finishing record over the first quarter of the season and will be looking to move that forward, while Bush / Bryn have yet to see a finish line…. The BTRDA Rally First Cup still features a Peugeot 205 monopoly but, this time, Giles Armitage will be endeavouring to turn the tables on Rallynuts winner Martin Beech…

The Reis Motorsport Insurance Motorsport UK English Rally Championship takes to the stages once more on the Border Counties Rally. Following the opening encounter there were joint leaders with Elliot Payne (Fiesta Rally2) and Callum Black (Suzuki Swift) both coming away from the Malcolm Wilson Rally with maximum scores. However, while the aforementioned absence of
Black from Round 2 leaves Payne out in front on his own, we’re at an early enough stage of the season for any number of other drivers to step up to the plate and join – or even overhaul! – him at the top of the table.

<<<   Elliot Payne and Patrick Walsh (Fiesta Rally2) – Reis Motorsport Insurance English Rally Championship Leaders

Prior to the start the Top Ten drivers are separated by a mere three points, as are 10th-20th places! Including the Border Counties, there are six more events in the calendar and it goes without saying that there is bound to be a fair amount of jockeying for position between now and the Grizedale Stages at the beginning of December…

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 11th May. Prospective spectators should consult : www.bordercountiesrally.co.uk/spectators/

All photos © Kevin Money & Malcolm Almond.   Further information on the Protyre BTRDA Rally Series @ www.btrdarally.com & Reis Motorsport Insurance English Rally Championship @ www.englishrally.co.uk          – ENDS –

OUT WITH THE OLD!….

As we bid a warm welcome to Protyre, headline sponsor of the 2024 BTRDA Rally Series, and Reis Motorsport Insurance for the Motorsport UK English Rally Championship – both of which start on the Malcolm Wilson Rally – Elliot Payne, the first driver to take back-to-back BTRDA Gold Star® Championship titles for nearly thirty years, returns in an attempt to extend his run of success still further.       The featured image shows Elliot Payne’s Fiesta Rally2 in the Grizedale forest snow! 

The entry list for the Malcolm Wilson Rally runs to around 100 cars and, even at this early stage, it’s quite obvious that the ‘pretenders’ to all the major categories in both the Protyre BTRDA Rally Series and Reis Motorsport Insurance Motorsport UK English Rally Championship will have their work cut out if, by the end of the year, their campaigns are to be deemed successful!  While Elliot Payne – who is reunited with Patrick Walsh, his co-driver for his 2022 Gold Star title, this year – will, undoubtedly, be a force-to-be-reckoned-with in the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Gold Star® Championship, it would be reasonable to assume that he won’t have things all his own way. Enduring a disastrous end to last season which saw their Fiesta R5 fail to complete an event after the Nicky Grist Stages in July, proven winners at BTRDA level, Matthew Hirst and Declan Dear still finished in the Top Six Gold Star contenders!  Russ Thompson / Steve Link beat all-comers on last year’s season-ending Cambrian Rally in their Class B13 Lancer EVO9 and they are now joined by the similar car of former BTRDA Production Cup winners Pat Naylor / Ian Lawrence.

<<<   Russ Thompson/Steve Link (Lancer EVO9) – Outright Winners 2023 Cambrian Rally

Meanwhile, having also sat out 2023, Perry Gardener / Jack Bowen (Fiesta R5) return to the fold once more. Perry’s dad, Shaun, was BTRDA Gold Star Champion in 2006 and 2012, while Perry, himself, finished runner-up on his ‘home’ Woodpecker Stages last time he contested it – so, not only do the Gardener family attributes include the knowledge of what is required to be a winner, but also the wherewithal to produce the goods!…
While any discussions in respect of this year’s Gold Star could be loosely categorised as ‘possibilities’, we can definitely say that the Protyre BTRDA Silver Star® Championship trophy will have a new name on it. Current holders Ben Friend / Cliff Simmons are only undertaking a limited programme of events in 2024, leaving the way open for others to take up the cudgel. For example, 2022 Silver Star winners Rob Wright / Mark Fisher (Escort Mk2), from Whitehaven, are tackling their ‘home’ event, while Andy Davison and 2019 Silver Star Champion Co-driver Tom Murphy return in their Sunbeam VXR.

                                                                                               Andy Davison / Tom Murphy (Sunbeam VXR) >>>>>

Over the past couple of seasons, several front-wheel drive cars have graced the Silver Star podium on events, as have vehicles contesting what is henceforth to be known as the Reis Motorsport Insurance BTRDA Historic Cup. Endeavouring to maintain that tradition, Lewis Hooper / Rhys Edwards have forsaken their award-winning Micra in favour of a Fiesta to concentrate on the BTRDA Rallye R2 Cup and they will be joined by Liam Clark / Emily Easton-Page in an as yet un-named car.
Steve Ward / Phil Sandham are targeting the Historic Cup in their Escort Mk2, as are Ernie & Patricia Lee whose BMW 325i finished 2nd in class on last year’s Malcolm Wilson Rally.  Having made their intentions perfectly clear during the latter half of the 2022 Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Rally Championship, Nigel & Kaz Jenkins (Nova) returned last season to claim the title with an unbeatable (even by them!) ‘full-house’ – six maximum scores! The husband-and-wife team from the Forest of Dean are back for more but, as is ever the case, they’ll be up against those out to de-rail their ambition – in the nicest possible way! – including, on this occasion, 2021 Bronze Star Champion Steve Black (Suzuki Swift) who has enlisted the help of Jack Morton,
Chris & James Greenall (Nova), Ashley Francis-Adams / Mark Ammonds (Micra), Chris Bush / Robert Bryn (Corsa) and Dale Glover / David Smalley (AlfaSud Ti). Brace yourselves!…

<<<<  Nigel & Kaz Jenkins (Nova) – Little (1400cc) Giant-Killers in 2023.  Shown here on their ‘local’ event, the Wyedean Rally 

For the first five events in its seven-round calendar, the Reis Motorsport Insurance MSUK English Rally Championship follows the BTRDA Rally Series and, as such, also begins on the Malcolm Wilson Rally. Anyone registered for the BTRDA Series is automatically eligible to score ERC points and, as it is class-based, it’s not necessarily the most powerful cars that come out on top. Not for the first time, this was graphically illustrated by Ernie Graham who was the 2023 English Rally Champion in his immaculate MkI Escort RS1600. For the new season, Ernie is pinning his hopes on a Lancer EVOX which, in addition to defending his ERC title, also puts him slap-bang in the middle of a very hotly-contested Class B13 in the BTRDA Series!…

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

All photos © Kevin Money and Malcolm Almond

COMPREHENSIVE COVER !

As permit holders of the Motorsport UK English Rally Championship, the BTRDA is delighted to welcome Reis Motorsport Insurance back into the fold, not only as headline sponsors of the 2024 English Rally Championship but also the BTRDA Rally Series Historic Cup.
Neil Cross, Chair of BTRDA Rallies Committee, commented, ‘We’re proud to be associated with such an iconic brand in motorsport as Reis and look forward to working with them this season, both with the Motorsport UK English Rally Championship and BTRDA Rally Series Historic Cup.’

The Championship’s class-based format sees competitors pitted against those in similar vehicles such that out-and-out power isn’t necessarily the key to success. Ernie Graham’s Escort RS1600 came out on top last season and former champions have included Nick Dobson (Escort Mk2), Steve Black (1400cc Suzuki Swift), Ian Joel (Escort Cosworth) and Sam Bilham (Fiesta R2).    (The featured image is Ernie & Karen Graham (Escort RS1600) – the 2023 Motorsport UK English Rally Champions)    

                                                  Previous Champions Steve Black  and Nick Dobson  >>>>>>

The 2024 Reis MSUK English Rally Championship calendar includes seven forest events, beginning with the Malcolm Wilson Rally in March and working its way round the country to finish on the Grizedale Stages over the first weekend in December.  The full 2024 Reis MSUK English Rally Championship calendar is outlined below : – 

    • MALCOLM WILSON RALLY    8th/9th MARCH    Cockermouth / Lake District
    • BORDER COUNTIES RALLY    11th MAY    Jedburgh / Tweed Valley
    • KIELDER FOREST RALLY    15th JUNE    Hexham / Northumberland
    • WOODPECKER STAGES    7th SEPTEMBER    Newtown / Powys
    • TRACKROD FOREST STAGES    28th SEPTEMBER    Filey / Yorkshire Forests
    • WYEDEAN FOREST RALLY    16th NOVEMBER    Coleford / Forest of Dean
    • GRIZEDALE STAGES RALLY    6th/7th DECEMBER    Ambleside / Lake District

* 5 Best Scores to Count

Following the opening round, there are likley to be several joint leaders – i.e. all those who have scored maximum points in their respective classes – and it’s only as the season progresses that further success will pay dividends in terms of overall positions.  Further information on the Reis MSUK English Rally Championship including the Championship Regulations will be published shortly.  Championship Registrations will be included as part of the 2024 BTRDA Rally Series registration.

Photos courtesy of Kevin Money / Malcolm Almond

GRAND GRIZEDALE FINALE!…

Once again the Coppermines Grizedale Stages Rally (1st / 2nd December) signals the conclusion of the Motorsport UK English Rally Championship in association with Seacon UK and, although this year’s title has already been claimed, there’s still plenty of unfinished business to be taken care of in the Lake District.
                      The featured image above is Elliot Payne (Fiesta Rally2) on his way to maximum English Championship points on the Trackrod Forest Rally
Elliot Payne, who has Patrick Walsh to guide him through the stages in his Fiesta Rally2 on this occasion, currently occupies runner-up spot, while recent Cambrian Rally winners, Russ Thompson / Steve Link (Lancer EVO9), are 3rd.

However, should Robert Proudlock and Steven Brown (Peugeot 208R4), who have a score in hand over their rivals, take a maximum – a feat they’ve already managed this season – they could move into the Top Three!                      >>>> 

Proudlock and Brown’s efforts thus far have made sure of an English Championship class win – ahead of Liam Clark who, himself, is stepping up to a Fiesta Rally2 on this event – but another good run could still pay dividends.

Then there are Nigel & Kaz Jenkins whose Nova has had a barn-storming season, winning the Fuchs Lubricants BTRDA Bronze Star Championship with a ‘full-house’ – six maximum scores. Unfortunately, they’ve come up against 2023 English Championship winners, Ernie & Karen Graham (Escort RS1600), in their class but, depending to an extent on the fate of others, a good run could see them improve on their current 6th place in the table…

<<<<<   Nigel & Kaz Jenkins – Vauxhall Nova

Rob Wright / Mark Fisher (Escort MkII) leave the start of the Grizedale Stages one minute ahead of Andy Davison / Tom Murphy whose Sunbeam VXR is in front of the Ford in its class. However, should something untoward happen to the latter crew during the day, that situation could well alter!
Andy Davison / Tom Murphy (Sunbeam VXR) – English Championship Class Leaders

The Grizedale Stages is based in Ambleside and boasts a compact route containing five special stages, totalling 42 miles, with 53 road miles between them.

SPECTATORS : The first car leaves the start at 5.30pm on Friday 2nd December and full details are available via the website:  https://www.grizedalestages.co.uk/index.php/spectators

Photos courtesy of Kevin money and Malcolm Almond