Author Archives: Howard Wilcock

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)

Relaunch of the MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship in 2017

In response to a recent competitor survey the BTRDA Rally Committee have expanded the 2017 MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship to provide a greater variety of Nat B events and opened it up to all types of rally car that comply with the 2017 MSA Safety and Technical Regulations for Special Stage Rallies.

The 2017 Championship will include a selection of the best one day forest and asphalt events in England, with the addition of a unique double header weekend which gives competitors the choice to compete on either or both the Nicky Grist Stages (Saturday) and the new Nicky Grist Asphalt Stages (Sunday). The asphalt element of the calendar sees the three events grouped together in the middle of the year and includes the Dukeries Rally which takes place within the confines of Donington Park and provides an excellent opportunity for sponsors and spectators to see more of the action.

CALENDAR          (Best 6 scores to count)
Somerset Stages –  8th April – West Somerset – 80% Gravel
Carlisle Stages Rally – 10th June – Kielder Forest West – Gravel
Nicky Grist Stages 8th – July – Mid Wales Forests – Gravel
Nicky Grist Asphalt Stages – 9th July – Epynt Ranges – Asphalt
Tyneside Stages 6th – August – Otterburn Ranges – Asphalt
58th Dukeries Rally – 20th August – Donington Park – Asphalt
Woodpecker Stages – 2nd September – Shropshire – Gravel
Trackrod Forest Rally – 30th September – North Yorkshire – Gravel

Once again, MAXXIS Tyres take on the mantle of headline sponsor of the MSA English Rally Championship which is now open to all rally cars complying with the 2017 MSA Safety and Technical Regulations for Special Stage Rallies. The Championship will be split into 8 championship classes with the scoring system reflecting achievement against other competitors in the same class. Success in the Overall, Class & Junior categories will all be recognised at the annual Awards Presentation Dinner.
• Class 1 BTRDA Rally First cars up to and including 1400cc and FIA R1A and N1
• Class 2 All cars up to 1400cc not eligible for class 1 and RF1.6 cars
• Class 3 Over 1400cc and up to and including 1600cc, including all FIA R2B cars
• Class 4 Over 1600cc and up and including to 2000cc
• Class 5 Over 2000cc 2 Wheel Drive
• Class 6 Current and former FIA Group N / NR4 cars over 2000cc
• Class 7 Over 2000cc 4 Wheel Drive
• Class 8 All WRC, RRC, R5 and S2000 cars and all derivatives

Championship Regulations are now published here > Championship Regulations and on-line Championship Registrations are available via the BTRDA membership system at  BTRDA on-line Membership / Registration    NB: The Maxxis MSA English Rally Championship registration will also cover the 2017 RAVENOL BTRDA Rally Series and will include membership of BTRDA which is an invited club to all the events.

Photo is Dylan Davies in a Subaru Impreza. (courtesy of Ralliphotoswales)   Note that all types of rally cars are eligible to score points on the 2017 MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship.

Sam Bilham takes the 2016 English Rally Championship title


The final round of the 2016 MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship, the MEM Malton Forest Rally, took place on a very wet and windy day in the North Yorkshire forests on Sunday.  The event was set to the Championship decider with both Sam Bilham (Fiesta ST) and Robert Vardy, in last years championship winning Fiesta R2, vying for the Drivers title.

At the end of a very challenging event Vardy along with Caron Tomlinson who was a last minute stand in co-driver, finished just 14 seconds and one place ahead but that result was still sufficient for Sam Bilham to maintain his championship lead and take the 2016 drivers title with Robert Vardy finishing in the runners up spot.

Amongst the other MSA English Championship crews to do well on the event were Paul Street and Ian Jones (Escort Mk2) who were the leading Class E5 crew, and Charlie Barlow and Dale Furness (Micra) who won their class and took maximum points in Class E2.

So, at the end of another competitive season it is Sam Bilham who is the Maxxis MSA English Rally Champion driver, with Ron Roughead taking the co-drivers title. Meanwhile in the English Junior Drivers table Robert Vardy came out just ahead of Sam Bilham.

A list of all the award winners in the 2016 MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship can be found HERE  and a the final championship points table (82 drivers and 63 co-drivers) can be found HERE

The awards for the MAXXIS MSA English Rally Championship will be presented along with the BTRDA Rally Series awards at the 2016 Dinner and Awards Ceremony which will take place on Saturday 7th January 2017 at the Radisson Penns Hall Hotel, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands. B76 1LH.     Ticket Application forms can be downloaded at

The photo attached is of the 2016 MSA English Rally Champion Sam Bilham with James Whitaker, taken on the MEM Malton Forest Rally. Photo courtesy of Kevin Money