The MAXXIS Tyres Motorsport UK 2019 English Rally Championship reaches its climax in the picturesque Forest of Dean on 9th November with the running of the Wyedean Stages Rally. From the start in Mitcheldean, a total of 42 miles of special stages – 3 stages each run twice – await the 80 crews on the entry list.
<<<<<< Andy Davison/Tom Murphy, currently occupying 2nd place in the English Rally Championship points table and leading Class E4, will be journeying down from Middlesbrough with their rapid Talbot Sunbeam VXR which has already scored two maximums this year – and now a third would do their title aspirations no harm at all!
Pitted against other cars in its class, Steve Black/Paul Morris’ Suzuki Swift (Class E2 leaders) has been improving all season, culminating in a maximum last time out on the Trackrod Forest Stages. (see main photo). As with their rivals, maintaining a 100% finishing record on the Wyedean Forest Rally is imperative.
Fellow E2 contenders Chris Powell/Jim Lewis have forsaken their Talbot Sunbeam for the four-wheel drive turbo-charged power of a Subaru Impreza for their last outing of the season.
Tim Phelps/Elwyn Manuel have made Class E5 (nearly!) all their own so far – their 2.4 litre-engined Escort has three maximums and one second place, such that all they have to worry about is their overall end-of-season position. No pressure, then!…
and the Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9s of Matthew Hirst/Declan Dear and former BTRDA Production Cup Champions Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy in class E7. In addition to Phelps/Manuel, Ford Escorts appear in the hands of Ben Friend/Cliff Simmons, Jonathan Brace/Paul Spooner and Robert Smith/Frankie Hillman. Stuart Spyer/Pete Williams will be hoping to show Steve Black a clean pair of heels in their 1400cc Vauxhall Corsa and Richard Wells/Tom Wood are relying on a Fiesta R2 to bring home the silverware in their class!
As far as the final Championship positions are concerned, all will become clear during the afternoon of 9th November as the survivors begin arriving back in Mitcheldean at the conclusion of the event.
After four years, it’s time to say ‘goodbye and thank you’ to MAXXIS Tyres as their tenure as headline sponsor draws to a close. As a class-based series, the winners during this period have been in a variety of different cars as, unlike most other Championships, it’s not necessarily the most powerful that will actually prevail. For example, Sam Bilham’s Group N Fiesta ST was victorious in 2016, while Stephen Petch’s Fiesta WRC claimed both the BTRDA Gold Star & English crowns the following year. Outgoing English Rally Champions Ian Joel/Graeme Wood put their trusty Ford Escort Cosworth to good use, rounding off the season with 5th place overall on the Trackrod Forest Stages in September 2018.
In 2020, long-term BTRDA supporter Tony Simpson will be sponsoring the Motorsport UK English Rally Championship through his Specialist Logistics Solutions company Seacon UK, and the calendar for the Seacon UK Motorsport UK 2020 English Rally Championship will consist of six prime forest stage rallies with the best 5 scores to count.
Malcolm Wilson Rally 14th March
Kielder Forest Rally 25th April
Nicky Grist Stages 11th July
Woodpecker Stages 5th September
Trackrod Forest Stages 26th September
Wyedean Stages Rally 7th November (TBC)
Reserve event :
Grizedale Stages 5th December
Further details of the Seacon UK 2020 Motorsport UK English Rally Championship will be announced shortly.
All photos © Kevin Money and Malc Almond