Skip navigation

As Rally Yorkshire kicked off in 2012, who knew that the classic North Yorkshire Forest stages would witness the closest finish in the MSA British Rally Championship’s history?

Certainly not eventual winner Tom Cave; certainly not runner-up Osian Pryce. But there it was, a dead heat, ultimately decided by the driver who was fastest on the opening stage by a tenth of a second.

Although the 2013 event will be the last as part of the MSA British Rally Championship, the chances of a repeat of such a nail-biting finish at its swansong are not that distant. The front-runners Citroën DS3s are identical, their Pirelli tyres are identical, their Sunoco fuel is identical and the level of commitment is – well let’s say on a par, to avoid repetition.

Two events this year have been decided by a handful of seconds, the closest the Jim Clark Rally where a missed gear-change separated the top pair – just two seconds after an hour and a half of flat out motoring. Proof, as if proof were needed, that the series is more competitive than it has ever been. And proof that watching these cars driven flat out through the darkness of Dalby Forest will be a sight to behold.

After two gravel events and two on asphalt, the championship advantage is with the 2011 Pirelli Star Driver Jukka Korhonen. After vowing to win the title at the end of last year, the Finn opened his account with two wins on the trot. But had it not been for Pirelli Rally punctures (the irony is not lost on us either!) it could have been a very different story.

Despite favouring gravel, he and Marko Salminen were on top form on the Jim Clark Rally, pipping the heroes of Yorkshire 2012 Tom Cave/Ieuan Thomas by two seconds for win number two.

When the crews moved from Scottish tarmac to Scottish gravel he was bested by young Ulsterman Alastair Fisher and his experienced co-driver Gordon Noble. They climbed a place from third, but were clearly disappointed not to win, the Finnish desire for victory still very evident.

Sadly for Fisher his chances of repeating his first ever BRC win were dashed with a crash on the event’s second stage. Gutted, he re-started to uphold local honours, but would finish fifteenth –surely a dropped score at the end of the season.

The ding-dong battle that could have formed between Korhonen and Osian Pryce/Dale Furniss never really materialised. Pryce was on top form and coupled with the Finns’ desire to grab valuable points after Cave too left the fray, the Welshman grabbed the victory that eluded him in Yorkshire last year.

The battle for the overall honours has not been the only story of the championship. The BRC RallyTwo title is also hotly contested. All cars outside the top R3 class are eligible and it looked like it could go any way early on.

Norwegian Steve Røkland with English co-driver James Aldridge set the early pace with a win in Kielder. But Scots Garry Pearson and Tom Hynd second would be followed by two retirements. Third on that occasion were Irish duo Daniel McKenna and Arthur Kierans. But despite problems on each subsequent event they have been victorious, pulling out a seven point lead in the title fight.

Chris Ingram, Ruary MacLeod and Røkland have taken the runners-up spots when McKenna took the spoils, with Røkland, Ulsterman Timmy Cathcart and Englishman Alex Parpottas taking the final podium steps on rounds two, three and four respectively.

With so many podium-sitters, it makes for a real page-turner on each event – no doubt Rally Yorkshire will be no different.

In the BRC Teams Cup, DGM Sport have benefitted from good finishes by both Alastair Fisher and Mark Donnelly to lead by four points from Morris Lubricants DMS. The second placed team’s lone scorer Tom Cave has one win in the category to DGM’s three, but left alone after round one, John MacCrone has struggled to keep Culina Palletforce Racing in the hunt with punctures, mechanical issues and a monumental accident.

The 2012 Pirelli Star Driver winner Mark Donnelly is driving a Citroën DS3 R3T as his prize for impressing at last year’s shootout – a dream result for a youngster who has ticked all the right boxes in the BRC over the last few years. Still just 22, he and Dai Roberts have taken a little time to adjust to the flappy paddle gearbox and 1600cc turbo car. But they seem to have found a sweet spot with third on home asphalt last time out.

The nominations for this year’s coveted Pirelli-funded prize have been awarded thus: Pirelli Richard Burns Foundation Rally – Steve Røkland, Jim Clark Rally – Daniel McKenna, RSAC Scottish Rally – Ruary MacLeod, Todds Leap Rally NI – Jon Armstrong. Who next?

The MSA British Junior Rally Championship and Twingo Renaultsport R1 Trophy UK points tables are identical – a fight between Ben Mckay and Harry Threlfall. Mckay has three wins on the trot to his and co-driving dad Jason’s credit. However all the events are new to both crews this year, so it the prestigious titles are still all to play for.

Citroën UK continues to dominate the MSA British Manufacturers Championship and the high-stakes Citroën Racing Trophy UK. Results and points tables follow those of the overall events and championship, the top four locked out by the DS3. McKenna took a hat-trick of Fiesta SportTrophy maximums on the Jim Clark, Scottish and Rally NI, moving five points clear of Røkland.

Despite a crash while holding an awe inspiring third overall on Todds Leap Rally NI, local lad Jon Armstrong maintains a six point lead over southern counterpart David Carney in the RAVENOL Oils Newcomers Trophy. Carney’s win in Ulster now moves him into a clear second, albeit only two points ahead of Mckay.

The Mantis Best Presented Car Award has gone to three Fiesta crews so far. Garry Pearson taking the £250 cheque, trophy and Mantis products on round one, Kit and Tim Leigh were deemed the best turned out on round two, while Enniskillen’s Timmy Cathcart’s Fiesta was deemed showroom standard in Scotland. The award is voted on by championship scrutineers before each event – the challenge for the crews is to keep them like that until the end!

With all the classes, cups and categories to fight for, new stages and new challenges face many of the crews in Enniskillen, but one thing is for sure – they won’t have time to look at the stunning scenery!

Rally Yorkshire info
The event will be based at the newly refurbished Pickering Showground (www.pickeringshowground.co.uk, postcode YO18 8EA), approximately one mile south of Pickering on the A169.

The rally begins with cars on display, autographs and a ceremonial start in Pickering Market Place from 17:30 on Friday 27th September. First away at 18:30 will be the Trackrod Historic Cup, followed by the BRC Challenge and finally the main BRC Rally Yorkshire competitors departing Pickering from 20:30.

The first special stage will take place in Dalby Forest including the famous Dalby Woodyard, which will not be floodlit to give that real night-stage feel, with spectators able to view the action from 20:30.

The Trackrod Challenge Rally finishes back at Pickering Showground on Saturday at lunchtime, with the BRC running another two stages to finish just before 5pm.

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

%d bloggers like this: