This BTRDA Rally Series Newsletter was published following the 2023 Rallynuts Stages and has been circulated to all registered Competitors, Event Organisers and Championship Sponsors.
Details of the 2023 Motorsport UK English Rally Championship, in association with Seacon UK, have now been finalised and the BTRDA is pleased to put forward a seven round all-gravel calendar, starting with the Malcolm Wilson Rally in March and running through to the beginning of December for the Grizedale Stages.
Featured image is MSUK English Rally Championship Sponsor Tony Simpson (Seacon UK Fiesta R2)
A seven-round calendar of selected popular forest stage rallies is planned for 2023 from which competitors will count their five best scores.: –
March 11th Malcolm Wilson Rally Cockermouth / Lake District
May 6th Border Counties Rally Jedburgh / Borders
June 17th Kielder Forest Rally Hexham / Kielder Forest
September 9th Woodpecker Stages Ludlow / Shropshire
September 23rd Trackrod Forest Stages Filey / North Yorkshire
November 18th (TBC) Wyedean Forest Rally Mitcheldean / Forest of Dean
December 1st/2nd Grizedale Stages Ambleside / Lake District
<<<< 2022 Motorsport UK English Rally Champion Nick Dobson (Escort Mk2)
Seven capacity classes (see below) cater for all vehicles complying with the current MSUK Technical Regulations and, as we’re always keen to point out, in a class-based series such as this, it’s not necessarily a powerful 4-WD car that comes out on top. 2022 Champion Nick Dobson’s 2-litre Escort Mk2 is (obviously!) only two-wheel drive and he succeeded previous winner Steve Black whose title came at the wheel of a 1400cc Suzuki Swift!
English Rally Champions in previous years include: – 2022 Nick Dobson (Escort Mk2), 2019 Steve Black (Suzuki Swift), 2018 Ian Joel (Escort Cosworth), 2017 Stephen Petch (Fiesta WRC) 2016 Sam Bilham (Fiesta R2), 2015 Rhys Yates (Fiesta R2), 2014 Matthew Robinson (Escort Mk2), 2013 Julian Wilkes (1400cc Vauxhall Nova).
Registration for the MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series automatically renders competitors eligible for the MSUK English Rally Championship (and vice versa) with no extra fees required.
Following on from the issue of regulations for the 2023 MRF Tyres BTRDA Rally Series, (available at www.btrdarally.co.uk/competitors) the Championship Regulations for the Motorsport UK 2023 English Rally Championship in association with Seacon UK, are now available in the competitor section of this website. HERE Championship Permit No CH2023 / RALLY002 has been issued by Motorsport UK.
The Competition Classes: –
Class E7 Current and former World Rally cars with a sequential gearbox, current and former R5, S2000 and FIA Rally2 specification cars and any derivatives therefrom.
Class E6 Over 2000cc 4-WD cars not eligible for class E7
Class E5 Over 2000cc 2-WD cars including all FIA R3T cars and Category 4b cars which comply with R49.1.5.
Class E4 Cars over 1600cc up to 2000cc or with forced induction engines up to 1300cc, plus any FIA Rally4 cars. Historic Category 3 cars with multi cam engines and Category 4a cars over 1600cc.
Class E3 Cars over 1400cc up to 1600cc plus current & former FIA Group N3 cars, ST Trophy cars and FIA R2 cars.
Class E2 Cars up to 1400cc not eligible for Class E1, plus Historic category 1 & 2, Category 3 with single cam engines and category 4a up to 1600cc
Class E1 All BTRDA Rally First cars.
The English Rally Championship / BTRDA Rally Series registration and BTRDA club membership are free to new members under 25 years of age on the 1st January 2023, for their first year of registration.
All prospective championship competitors are strongly encouraged to register online as soon as possible (but certainly prior to your first championship event) at www.btrdamembership.com There is a Membership / Registration form which can be downloaded from the website but that needs to be posted to the Membership Sec well before your first championship event.
The Coppermines Lakes Cottages Grizedale Stages Rally brings the Motorsport UK 2022 English Rally Championship, in association with Seacon UK, to a close over the first weekend in December and, from a very strong entry list, there are still several drivers who could yet walk away with the title! Current leader Nick Dobson (Escort Mk2) [headline image] takes the start with the obvious intention of maintaining station but such is the nature of the points table that he’ll have his work cut out if he is to succeed Steve Black as the Motorsport UK English Rally Champion…
Dobson’s nearest rivals prior to the start of the event are Stephen Petch / Michael Wilkinson whose Fiesta Rally2, although in a different class, is just five points adrift. For their part, they also have the similar car of 2022 BTRDA Gold Star® Rally Champions Elliot Payne / Patrick Walsh to contend with. The latter crew’s English season began badly with a retirement on the Malcolm Wilson Rally, back in March, but top marks in Grizedale could, potentially, pay dividends. Certainly, as far as their class (E7) is concerned, Payne has a score in hand over Petch who, rather than adding his full points on the final round, can only improve on previous results. So, plenty of interest until the final whistle here!…
Classmates : Stephen Petch/Michael Wilkinson (L) & Elliot Payne/Patrick Walsh (R)
Russ Thompson / Steve Link are in a similar situation in Class E6 – their Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9 was involved in a big accident on the Kielder Forest Rally in June (nil points on that occasion!) but is now fully restored and finds itself in with a chance of class glory. The car could also possibly challenge for outright victory but this would be, in part, dependent on the fortunes of others!
Russ Thompson/Steve Link (Lancer EVO9) spinning their way to a class win on the Trackrod Forest Stages >>>>>
Nathan Wearden / Ethan Thompson (Fiesta ST) are strong favourites to win Class E3 and Nathan also has an outside chance of the overall drivers title, but again that is partly dependant on the misfortunes of others.
<<< Nathan Wearden / Ethan Thompson
Andy Davison/Tom Murphy have had what might politely be described as a ‘mixed season’ in their Talbot Sunbeam VXR, but perseverance brings them to Grizedale in prime position to claim Class E5 for themselves. Davison is one point off the lead of the E5 Drivers’ table while Murphy is joint leader of this particular Co-drivers’ section. A finish is what is required to complete the job but, as they’ve found out to their cost, that is sometimes easier said than done!…
Andy Davison/Tom Murphy (Talbot Sunbeam VXR) >>>>>
2022 BTRDA Bronze Star® Champion Pete Gorst won’t need reminding that the outgoing English Rally Champion earned his title at the wheel of a 1400cc Suzuki Swift. His own Vauxhall Nova has had a topsy-turvy season (literally on the Woodpecker Stages!…) but, in ERC terms, is just two points behind Nigel Jenkins’ similar car in Class E2. To stand any chance of altering the current standings, Gorst must beat Jenkins and, should they finish 1st & 2nd, a tie will occur which, without delving too deeply into the mathematics, would be broken in the former’s favour…
The battling Novas of & Nigel Jenkins (L) and Pete Gorst (R)
The Grizedale Stages is based in Ambleside and boasts a very compact route containing four special stages in and around Grizedale Forest totalling 42 miles, with just 37 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
All photos © Kevin Money / Malcom Almond
Preview of the Wyedean Stages Rally (15th October)
As the 2022 Motorsport UK English Rally Championship, in association with Seacon UK, takes contenders into the Forest of Dean on Saturday 15th October for its penultimate round, the Wyedean Stages Rally, Nick Dobson (Escort Mk2) is just one point behind Richard Hill’s Lancer EVO9 in the race for the title. Having scored maximum points on the first two events in the calendar, Dobson (featured photo from the recent Trackrod Forest Rally) held pride of place at the top of the table throughout the summer, but a lacklustre run – by his standards – on the Woodpecker Stages in early September allowed Hill to overhaul him, albeit by the narrowest of margins. However, the Ilkley driver now has an opportunity to redress the balance….
Richard Hill / Patrick Cooper on the Trackrod Forest Rally >>>>
The class-based series sees competitors pitting their skills against those with vehicles of a similar engine capacity to their own in the battle for points, not only in their particular class but also for overall supremacy. In this way, it’s not necessarily the most powerful cars that come out on top – exemplified by the fact that, although the past couple of years have been blighted by Covid, the last English Rally Champion (2019) was Steve Black at the wheel of his 1400cc Suzuki Swift…
Having retired from the Woodpecker Stages, the hard charging Matthew Hirst and Declan Dear (Fiesta R5) will be looking to regain some lost ground, while local knowledge should be of assistance to Forest of Dean residents Bob Morgan / Ade Williams (Fabia R5).
<<<< Matthew Hirst / Declan Dear (Fiesta R5)
Four-wheel drive machinery also appears in the hands of Ledbury’s Rob Wilson (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO7), co-driven by Martin Haggett, while James Giddings / Aled Davies opt for an EVO9. Meanwhile, Colin Minton is pinning his hopes of success on a Subaru Impreza.
Aiming to give Nick Dobson a run for his money in their own Escorts, Irishmen Michael McDaid / Declan Casey and ‘The Flying Kiwi’ Boyd Kershaw, co-driven by Keegan Rees, have already scored one maximum apiece and are eminently capable of repeating the feat this time out, while Tim Jones / Liam Whiteley will be doing their best to join them….
Hoping that the English Rally Championship title remains in the hands of a 1400cc car in 2022, Lydney’s Nigel & Kaz Jenkins’ rapid Nova came out on top of its class last time out on the Trackrod Forest Stages which utilised the super-fast stages on the North York Moors. Although they were absent from the first couple of events, the husband-and-wife crew have since made their presence felt and, once again, ‘home’ advantage and a proven turn of speed – not to mention a slice of good luck! – could pay dividends.
Nigel & Kaz Jenkins – 1400cc Vauxhall Nova >>>>
Also relying on a 1400cc car, although a less highly-tuned version than the Jenkins’ Nova, Adrian & Matt Walk’s Ford Ka has proved on a number of occasions in the past that reliability is the key to success. However, while retirement on the Trackrod Forest Stages wasn’t part of the plan, good performances on the final two rounds of the series would put them in the running for a class win.
SPECTATORS : The first car leaves the start in Coleford at 8.30am on Saturday 15th October and full details will be available via the website: https://www.wyedeanstages.co.uk/spectators
All photos © Kevin Money / Malcom Almond.