Category Archives: British and Irish Rallying News

A WRC Star in a Reasonably Priced Rally Car

Welshman Elfyn Evans will return to his homeland to compete on the Nicky Grist Stages this weekend in the new Ford Fiesta R5.

In preparation for the upcoming WRC debut of the new car at Rally Finland, Elfyn and co-driver, Daniel Barritt will undertake a three day programme which will include a test, competing on the Nicky Grist Stages in Mid Wales and finally to act as Course Car for the P&R Benn Greystoke Stages on Sunday as a chance to get further experience of the car before their international debut with the car in 3 weeks time.

Evans will use the Michelin supported car in the same launch colour scheme that Belgian driver, Thierry Neuville used at the recent Ypres Rally.

Elfyn said: “This is a great chance for me to get some more experience with the car and a chance for the team to get some more mileage under it’s belt before we head over to Finland. I am looking forward to getting out on stages that I know well and to see how far we have come with the development of the car.”

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Sébastien Ogier to fly flag for Volkswagen at Rallyday 2013

Rallyday is thrilled to confirm that Volkswagen Motorsport driver Sébastien Ogier will make his maiden appearance at the thirteenth edition of the UK’s Premier Rally Car Show that will take place on Saturday 21 September 2013 at Wiltshire’s Castle Combe Circuit.

Ogier has dominated the 2013 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) so far in his Volkswagen Polo R WRC and took his fourth win of the season – and his sixth podium of 2013 – on the recent Rally Italia Sardegna (20 – 22 June), the seventh round out of 13.

Going into the WRC’s summer break, the Frenchman sits top in the WRC Drivers’ Championship, with 154 points on the board, 64 points more than his team-mate and closest rival, Jari-Matti Latvala.

“I’m looking forward to representing Volkswagen and Castrol EDGE at Rallyday 2013 in September,” Ogier commented. “I’ve had a great year so far in the World Rally Championship with the Polo R WRC and going to an event like this, without the pressure of competition, will be really nice. It is always good to do events like this, as on the rallies we are always really busy and we can’t give the fans the attention we’d always like to. I’ve heard a lot about Rallyday and it will be good to finally experience it for myself and to see the famous Castle Combe circuit. I’m sure the organisers’ will do a good job and put together a good line-up of cars. It will be nice to be part of it all.”

Rallyday organisers Darin Frow and Jo Stubbings are both delighted with confirmation of Ogier’s attendance following in the footsteps of the likes of his team-mate, Latvala, as well as Mikko Hirvonen, Petter Solberg, Ari Vatanen and the late Colin McRae.

“One of the many highlights of organising Rallyday is welcoming the rallying celebrities to the show, especially when they’re likely to be the new World Champion!” Frow said. “Sébastien Ogier has had an incredible year with Volkswagen and we’re excited he’s chosen to come to Rallyday to see his thousands of fans. We’d like to thank Volkswagen and Castrol EDGE for making this possible. Rallyday stalwart and 1984 World Rally Champion Stig Blomqvist will also be taming Audi’s fire-spitting Quattro S1 E2 and heading up a huge array of genuine Group B cars, whilst MML Sports return with the Mitsubishi WRC05 and Prodrive with the MINI John Cooper Works WRC – a huge contrast to the ex-works Mini Coopers, Lancia Fulvias and Hillman Imps which will all be celebrating their 50th Anniversary at this year’s show,” Frow added. “Add to this the Race2Recovery team in the Cooper Tires 4×4 Zone after their awesome success of conquering the gruelling Dakar Rally in January, and it’s no surprise to hear we’re getting excited with the ever evolving line-up!

“But there’s more in the pipeline so we’ll be releasing all the news as it happens through the Rallyday site and Facebook page.”

Tickets for Rallyday 2013 are on sale now, with advance tickets for adults costing £15, (if booked before August 31) or £20 on the day. Accompanied children under 16 go FREE. For more information please visit: http://www.rallyday.com. You can also keep up-to-date on everything to do with Rallyday via Twitter: @RallydayUK https://twitter.com/#!/RallydayUK – and via our Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/RallydayUK.

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Rally Argentina 2013

BRC crews at Goodwood Festival of Speed

Three drivers will represent the MSA British Rally Championship at this weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed: Jukka Korhonen, Ruary Macleod and Chris Ingram are taking to the rally stage at the world famous event.

The invitation-only event attracts upwards of 100,000 spectators every year and while the asphalt ribbon that makes up the hill climb course is best known, the rally stage has become an established part of the show in recent years.

Last year’s BRC invitations came on the back of their class and overall victories on the championship’s opening event, Rallye Sunseeker International. But since the Poole-based rally now forms the season finale, the organisers of this and the Goodwood Rally Stage, Southern Car Club, have chosen the three as noteworthy in the series.

Citroën DS3 pilot Korhonen leads the championship, while Fiesta man MacLeod is the latest to receive a Pirelli Star Driver nomination at the recent RSAC Scottish Rally. 2012 Racing Steps Foundation MSA Young Driver of the Year Chris Ingram is the youngest of the three, having celebrated his 19th birthday just three days ago – belated happy birthday Chris!

Once again, the BRC crews will share the service area with the slightly older International Rally Drivers Club. Formed in 1969, the club continues to enhance communication between those involved in the sport and to promote, advance and protect national and international rallying in the interests of competitors and organisers.

Beginning with Thursday’s Moving Motor Show, the Festival-proper kicks off on Friday 12th July, with three days of action at the famous West Sussex venue. For more information and tickets visit www.goodwood.co.uk/festival-of-speed.

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BRC bridge-bouncing as Armstrong tackles season opener, PLUS VIDEO

Jon Armstrong, the excitingly speedy teenager from Kesh Co Fermanagh, began his 2013 motorsport season in earnest on the Pirelli RBF Rally in Carlisle, last weekend along with the fastest and most competitive fellow drivers in the British Rally Championship (BRC).

Driving his family-prepared Ford Fiesta R2 he took on the challenge of other crews in identical cars from the UK and Ireland and also Scandinavia. A tall order for Armstrong in what was his debut at this the sports highest British level. However, such novice status did not deter Armstrong and he took to the stages with confidence and speed which led to a second fastest time amongst the Fiesta drivers on the opening test. It was a positive indication of his ability behind the wheel and gave him and Martin Brady, his Galway-based co-driver, the confidence to continue to try improve the pace as the miles passed.

Then cruel luck intervened when half way through the next test the car made the most fleeting of glances against the edge of a bridge and ricocheted the car up onto two wheels. Snapping the car back into control Armstrong minimised the peril of the moment, but no such contact can go unpunished at that speed and the pair were to now find themselves hampered with a bent rear axle which would leave the car steering somewhat erratically in high speed sections for the remainder of the event’s eight forest stages.

Then to prove the old adage of bad things come in threes, the next problem was two punctures which each cost over a minute of lost time and also an injured hand for co-driver Brady as he made contact with a hot brake disc in the rush to change one of the punctures. It seemed at this point that bad luck was their only luck, but a second fastest time on SS4 just one tenth of a second off fastest Fiesta was a positive to an otherwise character-building day.

Jon Armstrong - Ford

Overnight, the team discovered a fault with the fuel pump on the rally car and sporting help from a rival Daniel McKenna ensured the Armstrong crew could repair the fault and start Day Two with a renewed purpose.

Third fastest Fiesta time on the opening test was a just reward for the hard work by the mechanics overnight and this benchmark was improved with second fastest on the next test. However, the final act of the weekend was to prove the most difficult. Cutting a corner in a high speed section saw a heavy bang to a front wheel which bent the front steering to add mechanical insult to the already rear axle injury from the previous day. Try as he might to push on, Armstrong could not be fast and remain on the road when carrying such suspension injuries and a high speed spin was the warning sign that it was time to opt for discretion as the better plan and to just get the car to the end of the rally. That is what the teenager did and still the result was fourth in the Fiesta series and 11th finisher in the overall field and first in the all-important newcomer’s class.

Jon Armstrong - Ford

A credible end to his debut in the competitive arena of the British Rally Championship and with that result secure, the team are now concentrating on the next round of the season the Jim Clark Rally in Kelso Scotland on 31st May. This will be a new challenge as it is on tarmac roads, but it is sure to be exciting and will see Jon in at the deep end again in experience terms but still more than eager to take on the challenge.

Armstrong is joined and supported in his championship efforts by a number of partners and sponsors, including Monaghan Bros Ford Garage of Lisnaskea, Tyrone Truck & Trailer LTD, Jennings Fuel & Lubricants, Lakeland Tyres, Loane Transport Kesh and Battery Energy Drink. Find Jon Armstrong Rallying on facebook or visit http://www.jonarmstrong.co.uk for up to date results and stories.

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Adverse weather conditions force postponement of BRC’s 2013 season-opener

Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire Car Club Ltd, organisers of the Rally North Wales which was scheduled to run this coming weekend on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th April, have, after careful consideration, taken the decision to postpone the Welshpool-based event.

Event Manager Kevin Witton explains the reason for the postponement: “Since Wednesday (March 27th) of last week we have been closely monitoring the adverse weather conditions within and surrounding the Dyfi, Dyfnant and Gartheiniog forests which were to provide the Rally with its competitive sections. Today (Monday 1st April) we made a more detailed survey of the gravel roads to be used as Special Stages and found them all to be covered with significant patches of hard ice.

“Given the depth of the ice, especially on the exposed North-facing roads and under the trees, and the long-range weather forecast, it is unlikely to thaw before the event is due to start. The three of the four Clerks of the Course, who are responsible for the safe running of the rally and who drove through the stages today unanimously decided that for the safety of Competitors. Marshals, Rescue and Recovery crews and Spectators the event should be postponed.

“This was not an easy decision to make, but based on what we experienced first-hand, it’s the right one. We will now begin discussions with the Championship organisers in an effort to find an alternative date for our event, which should have been the opening round of this year’s BRC.”

Approaching 140 entries had been received for the Rally and the organising team will be working into Monday night to advise every one of the situation.

BRC Manager Mark Taylor commented: “It is a crying shame, I think we have all seen far too much snow this winter. I feel for the organising team who have spend the last six to eight months preparing for this coming weekend, to have to make such a difficult but correct decision on safety grounds is a real blow for them and the many competitors looking forward to kick starting their season.

“We will be consulting with the event, our competitors, agencies, the MSA and the other championships over the coming weeks in the hope of finding a mutually acceptable solution. When we are in a position to communicate further news, we will do so.

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BRC events make positive impact on UK economy

Everybody welcomes a good news story, so economic impact studies carried out during two of last year’s MSA British Rally Championship events make welcome reading in the continuing financial climate.

Independent studies were carried out in 2012 by the town councils supporting the Ulster and Yorkshire rallies, concluded that both events provide a significant economic boost to the local communities, business, travel and leisure industries. Taking into account both surveys, which captured spectators and teams, an average attendance of over twenty thousand people induced the local economies by £1.75m over a rally weekend. Based on this evidence, seven rounds of the BRC project a benefit to the UK economy of over £12m.

The latest report to be issued by Rally Yorkshire which was the final round of last year’s championship determined that out of the attendance 63% were by those aged between 25 and 59, a third were female and 61% of the visitors were from outside of the local region staying for an average of three nights and for 20% of spectators it was their very first rally.

All of these contributed to a direct economic impact of actual money spent £1,021,735 for the UK economy as a whole and £976,735 for the local economy. Induced economic impact, that is the continuing effect of the actual money spent through the economy, averaged at £1,524,237 for the UK economy as a whole and £1,450,339 for the local economy.

Championship manager Mark Taylor said: “Information like this is invaluable to the events and the sport as a whole which is why we have made it a requirement for the each of the BRC events to work in partnership with the local authorities to carry out independent surveys in 2013.

“It is just fantastic to know that the events that make up the BRC raise in the region of £12m for the UK economy, providing much needed income to local communities and businesses in this difficult economic period.

“This information is so vital in ensuring that rallying in the UK is valued both by the local community, the authorities that help host the events, the sponsors and fan base. I firmly believe reports such as these will play a vital role in sustaining the future of the sport, especially when we start to emerge from this recession. I think the local motor clubs and thousands of volunteers who give up their valuable time should be extremely proud of their contribution.”

The first rally of the 2013 MSA British Rally Championship season is fast approaching. Rally North Wales takes place over the weekend of 6/7 April and is based in Welshpool, where the town council has been instrumental in making Friday afternoon’s ceremonial start a real attraction; proving once again the value of this type of event to the economy.

For more information on the MSA British Rally Championship visit www.rallybrc.co.uk.

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Mark Cronje and the Ford Fiesta RS WRC

Reigning South African Rally Champions, Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton, finished fifth on the Malcolm Wilson Rally, which ended late in the afternoon of March 2 in the Cumbrian city of Cockermouth, England.

It was their first taste of overseas competition, taking part courtesy of M-Sport’s Malcolm Wilson, benefactor of the event and founder of the company which built the S2000 Ford Fiesta which took them to the 2012 title. On the one-day, seven special stage event they campaigned a Fiesta similar to what is used in the World Rally Championship.

The duo ran as high as third place overall before a spin on stage five – Grizedale South – cost them about 30 seconds and dropping them down to fifth. A cautious approach on the penultimate stage saw them lose a further place, before they clawed it back on the final timed section.

The event was won by Euan Thorburn and Paul Beaton in a Ford Focus WRC, 20 seconds ahead of the similar machine of Paul Bird/Carl Williamson. Cronje/Houghton finished one minute and 32 seconds behind the leader

“It has been an amazing experience,” enthused Cronje. “We were up against some tough opposition in full WRC-type cars running the latest developments, and we really had to give it our all. We were unfortunate that the rear anti-roll bar broke on the 13 km fourth stage and then had to complete the following 18 km stage with the car not handling perfectly as a result, which probably contributed to our spin. Nevertheless, I loved every minute of it!”

“It has been a privilege to be part of M-Sport for the event,” added Houghton. “They gave us all the support we could’ve wanted and a great car to boot. It has been a real eye-opener and the perfect way to prepare us for our title defence, which starts back home in less than a week’s time.

“The event was very professionally run and the setting in the Lake District of Cumbria was a bonus. We’ve experienced some beautiful roads – very technical and challenging – which were perfect for high speed rallying. We’ve also gathered some useful information which we can put to good use in the year ahead.”

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