Author Archives: Howard Wilcock


The 2017 MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship reaches the final round on Saturday 30th September with a visit to the Trackrod Forest Stages in North Yorkshire.

Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson (Fiesta WRC) have been among the leaders of the Championship since the Somerset Stages back in April, and they have continued to pile the pressure on all their rivals with a string of excellent results on both gravel and asphalt surfaces.  So much so that they arrive at the Trackrod Forest Stages as the de facto English Rally Champions, as the only remaining crew who had an outside chance of overhauling them if they had a problem on the final round, Callum Black/Elliott Edmondson (Fiesta R5+), have elected to focus their attention on their forthcoming Wales Rally GB entry and have excused themselves from the trip to Filey.

A maximum of 20 points can be awarded in each of the eight English championship classes and with additional points available up to a maximum of 25, Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence (Mitsubishi Evo 9) could still find themselves overhauling Black/Edmundson for the runners-up spot.

The permutations for most of the class awards are even more complicated but, in addition to those already mentioned, the names of Bart LangWilliam HillBarry JordanAndy DavisonRobert DennisAshley DavisRichard SykesRuss Thompson and Sacha Kakad among many others, are certain to all be in the mix.  Calculators at the ready!…

The event, which is also the final round of the 2017 RAVENOL BTRDA Rally Series and the MINTEX British Historic Rally Championship, has attracted an entry of over 130 crews. The first car leaves the start of the Trackrod Forest Stages from Filey Country Park at 8.30am on 30th September. On the menu are 45 miles of single-use special stages in Langdale, Staindale, Gale Rigg Cropton, finishing off with a final blast through 11.6 miles of Dalby Forest.

Answers to all the questions posed above will hopefully be available shortly after the cars begin arriving back at the finish, down on the sea front at Filey, from around 3.00pm onwards!

Stephen Petch / Michael Wilkinson on the recent Woodpecker Stages.   Courtesy of ralliphotoswales.


As far as contenders for the MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship are concerned, the Woodpecker Stages represents a return to forest rallying after the option of three consecutive asphalt events. This year’s Championship has been completely revamped and, while still class based, crews in any vehicle complying with MSA Technical Regulations are eligible to score championship points.

After a good run on the Tyneside Stages over the Otterburn Military Ranges, Stephen Petch and Michael Wilkinson currently hold sway at the top of the Drivers and Co-drivers points tables but, as every competitor is pitted against those in his/her class, it’s just as feasible that the eventual winner could come from one of the smaller capacity classes.  In 2016 Sam Bilham, in his 2-litre two-wheel drive Fiesta ST, was victorious and there’s no saying that a similar giant-killing act will not be performed by someone this time. We’ll know all by the end of September!…

Thanks to the continuing support from the organisers of Dayinsure Wales Rally GB and their Road to Wales initiative, there is also a super additional prize of a free entry in the 2017 Wales Rally GB National Rally on 28th – 29th October for the winner of the 2017 MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship.

Bart Lang / Sinclair Young (Micra) have now secured an unassailable lead in class E1, but in the seven other competition classes it is still all to play for with the Woodpecker and the Trackrod Forest Rally to come.   All the latest championship points can be viewed in the Competitors section. (best 6 scores to count)

Photo is Robert Dennis / Andrew Boswell on the Carlisle Stages. (Courtesy of ralliphotoswales)

The leaders head to Carlisle…!

After setting out on the Somerset Stages Rally in mid-April, contenders for the 2017 MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship reconvene in Carlisle for the second event in the new eight-round calendar, and it’s from here that the ties in the points table, always experienced after the first round of a class-based series, will begin to disappear.
Following the opening encounter Ed Fossey (Yaris), David Bennett (Corsa), Pat Naylor (Lancer EVO 9), Stephen Petch (Fiesta WRC), Rob Dennis (Escort Mk2) and Toni Carannante (Subaru Impreza) have all been dining out on the strength of their joint leadership of the MAXXIS MSA English Championship. Now, as Round 2 is upon them, they’ve got to do it all again to stand any chance of maintaining their positions at the top. Close behind them, those competitors sharing 7th place are only two points behind, those sharing 12th place three points behind, those sharing 16th place four points in arrears and so on. Hence, either a calculator or considerable aptitude for mental arithmetic will be a prerequisite on the day!

All of the current leaders are also leading their respective classes, whilst last year’s English Rally Champion Sam Bilham is the leading Junior driver and Tom Murphy is the leading Junior co-driver.
A full list of all the MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship points is published in the Competitors Section.
The first car leaves the start of the Carlisle Stages at 8.00am on Saturday 10th June and cars are due to begin arriving back at the finish at H & H Auctions on the outskirts of the city from 3.00pm.  Further details of the event at:

After the Carlisle Stages the championship then moves to the unique double header weekend on 9th / 10th July which gives competitors the choice to compete on either or both the Nicky Grist Stages (Saturday) and the new Nicky Grist Acropolis Rally offering 74 miles of asphalt stages on the Epynt Ranges (Sunday).

Thanks to the continuing support from the organisers of Dayinsure Wales Rally GB and their Road to Wales initiative, there is now a super prize of a free entry in the 2017 Wales Rally GB National Rally on 27th – 29th October for the winner of the 2017 MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship.

Photo is Stephen Petch / Micheal Wilkinson on the recent Plains Rally.  (courtesy of ralliphotoswales)

A Touch of Class!….

The new-look MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship set sail on the Somerset Stages and competitors have a wide-ranging calendar of events to look forward to, including a mid-season trio of forays on to asphalt. The Championship has been opened-up to cater for all rally cars compliant with the MSA’s technical regulations and, as is the case with any class-based series, the eventual winner could come from any one of them. It’s also the case that, following the first round, there will be a tie for the lead, i.e. all those who scored maximum points in their respective classes will feature at the top of the points table, and it’s only when the season gets into its swing that talent will out….

So, after just the opening encounter, 62 crews have been credited with points in the MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship and, unsurprisingly, Stephen Petch/ Michael Wilkinson were the highest-placed runners home in their Fiesta WRC. In their particular class (E8), the Fiestas of Callum Black/Elliott Edmondson and Connor McCloskey are the cars/crews they need to be most wary of, but it’s already obvious that there are others with designs on the silverware!  Class E7 is led by Toni Carannante/Simon Coates who took a class win and a top twenty finish on the event itself in their Subaru Impreza STi.  Whereas class E6 includes many of the BTRDA Production Cup front-runners; Pat Naylor/Ian Lawrence, Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy and Richard Hill/Steffan Evans lead the charge, but there are plenty more of these evenly matched cars where they came from!  Ashley Davies/Sam Fordham rule the roost in class E5 (over 2-litre) in their Escort, while class E4 (up to 2-litre) sees a couple more Escorts in the hands of Rob Dennis/Andy Boswell and Theo Bengry/Les Forsbrook demoting defending ERC champion Sam Bilham (Fiesta ST) and codriver Cameron Fair down into 3rd place at present.

Dave Bennett/Alistair McNeil’s splendid run in their Corsa in Somerset sees them leading fellow 1600cc runners Barry Jordan/James Gratton-Smith (Hillman Avenger BRM) and Bob Vardy/Simon Rogers (Fiesta) in class E3, while the driving forces in the 1400 Championship hold sway in class E2. The current top three are Ed Fossey/Chris SharpeSimkiss (Toyota Yaris), Tommi Meadows/Ian Oakey (Ford Ka) and Rob & Michael Evett (MG ZR), while class E1 is a ZR closed-shop! Chris Hickman/Alex Stanbury, Sheldon Furby/Carrie Rogers and Ian Wollacott/ Simon Stanbury will all currently be dining out on their success but their – and everyone else mentioned above! – joy will be tempered by the knowledge that, with up to 25 points on offer on each of the remaining seven rounds, in the blink of an eye the look of the leaderboard could change significantly!   The complete points table after the first round can be found under the Competitor Section > HERE

Next stop is the Carlisle Stages on 10th June. The event is based at the premises of H&H Auctions in Carlisle close to Jct 43 of the M6, and will cover 43 stage miles in the Kershope and Newcastleton forests, with a 15 mile stage as a finale. These stages are only used on the Carlisle Stages and with a small proportion of double usage it should ensure the best possible road conditions.  For more information and to enter, follow the link to the DMack Carlisle Stages in the Events section.

Thanks to the continuing support from the organisers of Dayinsure Wales Rally GB and their Road to Wales initiative, there is now a super prize of a free entry in the 2017 Wales Rally GB National Rally on 27th – 29th October for the winner of the 2017 MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship.

Photo is one of the early leaders in the MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship – Patrick Naylor / Ian Lawrence  (courtesy of ralliphotoswales)