Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship

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2nd October 2017: BHRC winners announced, continued....

It was a winner-takes-all showdown in the Yorkshire forests between Pritchard/Clarke and Nick Elliott and Dave Price and Elliott was seven seconds up when he slid off for over a minute on the fourth stage. After seeing his rival off the road, Pritchard and Clarke were able to ease their pace and take maximum points to become the first crew to take a hat-trick of BHRC titles. 

The rally started with 11-miles of Dalby in the darkness of Friday evening, made muddy and slippery after heavy rain. Remarkably, Pritchard and Elliott were just eight-tenths of a second apart by the end of the stage as Pritchard took a slender advantage. 

Saturday morning started with 14 miles of Langdale and Elliott went five seconds faster, which grew in the following Staindale stage to take a 7.5s margin into stages in Gale Rigg and Cropton. Elliott continued his attack in Gale Rigg but a tricky corner caught Elliott out and the Escort went off backwards into the undergrowth. The car was undamaged but stuck and Pritchard, running next car, went by as Price organised recovery with spectators.

A minute and a half was lost and that dealt a fatal blow to Elliott’s title bid. Heading into the second run of Dalby, Pritchard had 67s in hand and, with a measured performance, arrived at the finish on Filey sea front 56s up on his season-long rival. 

“It was close! It was a good fight all year and the conditions in Yorkshire made in difficult at the end,”  said Pritchard. “We just did what we had to do and that was all we could. It was a case of whoever cracked first and fortunately for us, that was Nick. But that’s rallying and anything can happen. It’s thanks to everyone who puts in the hours to get us here. Phil and I have the easy part! It is some achievement to win a hat-trick of BHRC titles and it’ll be a while before that record is broken, I’m sure.” 

Rudi Lancaster and Guy Weaver completed a very impressive BHRC campaign with third overall on both the rally and in the championship. Like most crews, they found the Friday night stage a real challenge, but were quick all through Saturday, with second fastest in Dalby less than three seconds down on rally winner Steve Bannister after 11 miles. 

Elliott/Price finally finished fourth while Steve Bennett and Osian Owen were fifth despite dropping nearly a minute with an overshoot and a spin on Friday night. They were nicely on the pace on Saturday. Rounding out the top six were Ben Friend and Cliffy Simmons in another giant-killing performance in the Pinto-powered Escort Mk2. 

Terry Cree and Richard Shores bagged class C3 spoils in their BMW 2002 after a strong run while Stuart Cariss/Linda Cariss (Ford Escort Mk1) topped class C2 with a spirited performance. Their rivals Mal Bayliss and Siobhan Pugh were out early on Saturday with a suspected fuel pump problem. 

Provisional final championship points after round 9 (showing best 6 scores):

1 Pritchard/Clarke                     206

2 Elliott/Price                             200

3 Rudi Lancaster/Guy Weaver       167  

Visit the photo gallery here, and find the full results for the Trackrod Rally Yorkshire here.


27th September 2017: End of season showdown, continued...

This season has been all about two crews: defending double champions Jason Pritchard and Phil Clarke and pretenders to the crown, Nick Elliott and Dave Price. Now the Ford Escort Mk2 crews head to Yorkshire to finally settle the matter and whichever crew takes maximum BHRC points, they will be champions. Pritchard and Clarke have a three-point lead over Elliott and Price and, with 30 points for first and 25 points for second, the top BHRC score on the Trackrod will earn the title.

Beyond the tense battle for the overall championship battle, the Trackrod Historic Cup will deliver some cracking historic action as the BHRC pays its annual visit to the classic Yorkshire forest stages. Drivers like Rudi Lancaster, Steve Bennett and Simon Webster have all shown fine Yorkshire pace in previous seasons and will be chasing Pritchard and Elliott. 

Adding tremendous depth to the BDG-powered Mk2 pack will be the cars of Barry Stevenson-Wheeler/John Pickavance and Phil and Mick Squires, while lining up against the BDG-powered Ford Escort Mk2s will be the Pinto-powered version of Ben Friend and Cliffy Simmons. Despite getting out of breath on the long straights in Dalby, their pace is such that they will be aiming to take some more scalps from the more powerful cars. 

A welcome return to the championship in the Capital Construction Category 2 is the Ford Escort Mk1 of husband and wife Chris Browne and Ali-Cornwell-Browne, and they are joined by the next generation of rallying Browne, son Josh in his Pinto-powered Escort Mk2. For both cars, this is a pre-Roger Albert Clark Rally shakedown and a rare chance to get acclimatised to forest rallying in the dark once more. 

Up against Chris Browne in Category 2 will be the mighty Datsun 240Z of the irrepressible Jeremy Easson and Mike Reynolds along with the rapid BMW 2002 of Terry Cree and Richard Shores. 

In the 1600cc division of Category 2, there will be another instalment in the season-long contest between the Escort Mk1s of York-based Stuart and Linda Cariss and Welsh crew Mal Bayliss and Siobhan Pugh. Bayliss is overdue a good finish after a frustrating season of mechanical dramas but the local husband and wife crew will be hard to beat on familiar stages. 

The Trackrod Historic Cup is based in Filey with scrutineering on Friday afternoon followed by the rally start at 7pm and one 11-mile special stage. The rally resumes at 8.30am on Saturday and the crews will return to Filey from around 3pm. You can visit the official event web page here or by clicking on the image opposite.


19th September 2017: Award winners continued...

Championship newcomers Ken Graham and Rory McCann collected the award for the ‘Best Improvement on Seeding, which is a set of axle brake pads from Mintex. They pushed their 1600cc Hillman Avenger up to 15th place in the historic field and won Category 2 in the process. 

The “Spirit of the Rally”product award from Fuchs Lubricants went to Andrew Stokes and Adrian McNally. They were innocent parties in a head-on collision involving Belgian driver Peter Tsjoen during the pre-event recce and were left bruised and battered in the accident that wrote off their recce car. 

However, they were determined to start and battled on to achieve Andrew's ambition of finishing the rally in the Ford Escort Mk1 that his late brother David took to many successes on the island. Despite losing four minutes to a fuel pump problem, they finished 16th in the historic field and missed Category 2 victory by 16s. 

Finally, Rudi Lancaster won the "Hard Charger" award of a 20-litre jerry can from Green Valley Industrial Supplies. With co-driver Guy Weaver, Lancaster pushed hard right through the rally to score an excellent result on the toughest round of the championship.


19th September 2017: Pritchard takes Isle of Man double header, continued...

Pritchard and Clarke were faultless as they dominated the historics and took a maximum score to set up a winner-takes-all final on the Trackrod Rally at the end of September. 

Former championship leaders Nick Elliott and Dave Price achieved their target of a third place score (in round 7) on their first experience of the challenging island roads while Rob Smith and Alun Cook took second overall across the event. Rudi Lancaster and Guy Weaver finished the event third overall in the BHRC ranks after a strong performance. 

The annual voyage to the Isle of Man delivered a typically tough test for crews and cars on the closed roads of the island. This year’s stages were notably tight and twisty and heavy rain showers, particularly on Thursday evening, added to the challenge. Tyre choice was always difficult and those who crossed the finish line in front of the TT grandstands on Saturday afternoon deserve great credit. 

Pritchard and Clarke set the pace on the opening stage on Marine Drive and ended Thursday's five stages with a 17-second lead over Smith Alun Cook. Out when heavy rain struck stage two was island newcomer Neil Williams and his co-driver Ashley Trimble who clouted a bank and retired their Escort Mk2. There was also trouble for Ryan Barrett and Paul McCann who stopped to change a puncture on the evening's final stage and lost over four minutes. They later retired with a misfire issue. 

Pritchard was caught on the wrong tyres on the opening stages of Friday but Smith was not able to capitalise as he was twice held up in the first stage by stricken modern crews and lost around 20 seconds. 

Smith continued to attack, but Pritchard reached the half-way point on Friday afternoon with a 35s margin to claim the first set of BHRC points. Meanwhile Elliott achieved his target of third place in the first part of the double-header. However, he had bent the steering on the Sand Quarry stage and later retired from part two rather than take risks in a car that wasn't quite right. 

Pritchard continued his faultless performance as part two started and any chance of Smith going with him ended on Marine Drive when he slid into a kerb, bounced through some posts and damaged the spot lights. A hand injury from the wheel kick-back compounded his woes. 

Saturday brought further tricky tyre choices but nothing could unsettle Pritchard and he calmly drove to one of the most important victories of his career to date. Smith held station in second and third among the BHRC crews was a very good result for Lancaster and Weaver after a consistently strong rally. 

Others were not destined to reach the finish, including Stanley Orr and Andrew Bushe who set a cracking pace until Stanley's Escort Mk1 was sidelined by alternator failure, while Eliot Retallick and Tim Tugwell crashed their Hillman Avenger out of the rally late on Friday. 

A clutch of fine performances packed out the next places among the BHRC contenders, who were headed by Barry Stevenson-Wheeler and John Pickavance after a tremendous run in their Escort Mk2. Ben Friend and Cliffy Simmons duly took top points in Class D3 after a mature rally on Ben's first rally on the island. He started steadily and built pace all weekend for a great result. Friend finished just ahead of Phil and Mick Squires who turned in a typically consistent performance, with Tim Freeman/Paul Williams not far behind. 

In the Capital Construction Category 2, it was a mixed weekend for Phil Jobson and Arwel Jenkins. They did enough in the first part of the double-header to secure the category title but were sidelined on Saturday by a minor gearbox problem for their Escort Mk1. That left the second Category 2 victory to Ken Graham and Rory McCann in their first rally in an ex-Barry Jordan Hillman Avenger. Graham is usually part of the service crew for Paul and Ryan Barrett but showed a good turn of speed in the 1600cc Avenger. 

This was a tough event for Andrew Stokes and Adrian McNally but they achieved Stokes' ambition of finishing the rally in their Ford Escort Mk1. They were innocent parties in a head-on collision involving Belgian driver Peter Tsjoen during the pre-event recce but were determined to start the rally in the car that Andrew's late brother David took to many successes on the island. Despite losing four minutes to a fuel pump problem, they finished 16th in the historic field. 

Finally, the Vintage Car Radiator Company Category 1 went, once more, to the Mini Cooper S of Phil Harris and Richard Suter after another exemplary performance. Harris was quick to praise both his co-driver and the car preparation from RSR Historic Engineering and reckoned that the concluding Classic stage was the absolute highlight of the rally. 

Provisional championship points after round 8 of 9 (showing best 6 scores):

1 Pritchard/Clarke                       193

2 Elliott/Price                                  190

3 Lancaster/Weaver                   150  

The full rally results can be found here and the full picture gallery is here.


16th June 2017: Filey base for final round in 2017, continued.....

It will be a welcome return to the Yorkshire coast for the rally, which features a vast array of cars from the 1960's to the present day. As in recent years, Rally Yorkshire comprises two events: the Trackrod Historic Cup over six stages and covering approximately 55 competitive miles, and the Trackrod Forest Stages, with five stages and a total mileage of around 45 miles.

Scrutineering of the rally cars will take place in Filey with Rally HQ and documentation located at the Evron Centre. The Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship cars will start to assemble, for spectators to view and competitors to sign autographs, late on Friday afternoon before being flagged away for a challenging forest stage in the Dalby complex.

On Saturday morning, the historic section of the field will be joined by a wide range of competitors from the RAVENOL BTRDA Rally Series and the Maxxis MSA English Rally Championship. Competitors are then due to enter the North York Moors forests for two sets of two different stages with central servicing, concluding with a final and potentially decisive 10-mile stage. There will be no double use stages on Saturday.

Clerk of the Course Rod Parkin, from the organising Trackrod Motor Club, said: “We are delighted to bring the colour and spectacle of rallying to Filey and are thrilled at the help and support we have received from the local Council and businesses in the area.”

For more details of the Trackrod Rally Yorkshire, please visit:

www.rallyyorkshire.co.uk

For more information about Filey as a destination and accommodation, visit the Welcome to Yorkshire site here.


2017 BHRC calendar unveiled

The dates for the 2017 Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship have been confirmed, with an eight-event, nine-round, schedule covering five gravel and three asphalt rallies.

The 2017 calendar takes in some of the very best gravel and asphalt rallies in the UK and adds a brand new event, the ALMC Stages in Ireland on Sunday 2 July. Based just outside Dublin, this first-class closed-road rally offers a time and cost-effective Irish event and marks the first time that the championship has visited Southern Ireland. With easy access from the ferry ports and Dublin airport, it should be a popular addition to the schedule.

Once again, Rally Isle of Man will run to a double-header format and the three asphalt events have been grouped together to make things easier for crews changing cars from gravel to asphalt specification.

“We have responded to our competitors by adjusting the balance slightly between asphalt and gravel rallies,” said championship manager Colin Heppenstall. "There is a growing move towards asphalt events in historic rallying and we have reflected this is our calendar."

The championship will be officially launched at Autosport International at the Birmingham NEC (12-15 January) when championship registrations will be open.

The full 2017 BHRC calendar is:

Sunday 19 February: Red Kite Stages

Saturday 1 April: North Wales Stages

Saturday 29 April: Pirelli Carlisle Rally

Saturday 3 June: Severn Valley Stages

Sunday 2 July: ALMC Stages

Sunday 30 July: Harry Flatters Rally

Thurs-Sat 14-16 Sep: Isle of Man Classic

Fri/Sat 29/30 Sep: Trackrod Historic Cup

Reserve event: Fri/Sat 9/10 June, Carlisle Stages

Note: dates are subject to MSA approval