Friday 4 November 2022

Rally - Thinking out loud

Depending on which Press Release you read, it was either Oliver Solberg, Ruairi Bell or Matthew Hirst who won the recent Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally. Rally fans of course will know that Oliver wasn't in the running for the British Rally Championship whereas Ruairi was, while Matthew was contesting the 'interclub' part of the event which was the final round of the BTRDA Championship, hence three different 'winners'.

Forty years ago the British Championship attracted sufficient entries to run their own events although many of them chose to include additional entries in national or clubman classes to boost numbers and generate more income. How times have changed. These days the British Championship has to rely on additional national or clubman classes to ensure viability.

On the final round of the premier 2022 British championship, the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally there were 13 entries, whereas, on the Interclub Cambrian event there were 90 entries. On the Friday evening, the BRC runners contested two stages then eight more on the Saturday whereas the Interclub runners contested all of their eight stages on the Saturday.

Considering the amount of effort and manpower it takes to organise and man a special stage these days, that's a helluva lot of effort and expense for the organisers on the Friday night run.

For sure the front running BRC regulars provide a stirring spectacle for the fans but by close of play on Saturday evening the top six finishers on the BRC event were covered by 11 minutes, whereas on the Interclub rally, the top 39 finishers were covered by 11 minutes. Big difference in closeness of competition.

Which makes one wonder, does British rallying need a re-think?

If the sport cannot sustain a separate 'premier' contest like the long gone British Open Championship, or even a 'national' series like the old Castrol Autosport competition, then how can a truly 'British' champion be determined?

Now for a daft idea! Instead of creating a new competition, just use what we have. Nominate two events in England (Cumbria and Yorkshire), two in Wales, two in Scotland, one in N Ireland, one on the Isle of Man plus a furrin European event - in Eire! Belgium is a nice thought but is it a rally too far at this level?

These nine events could constitute a new British Rally Championship competition. Rather than running a separate rally within a rally on these nine events, everyone would compete over the same stages so there would be only one rally winner.

However, for those who chose to register in a new-look British Championship there would be an additional separate points scoring structure. In other words folk registered for the BTRDA / Scottish / Welsh /N Irish series' would still get their full allocation of points but they could also claim British championship points.

This might also encourage more folk to chase British Championship points especially if there was a decent prize at the end of the season. Of course there would still be a requirement for a BRC registration fee but it could be a lot cheaper than at present.

The winner of such a competition could therefore claim to be truly the best of British, rather than the best of half a dozen!

Of course others will have different ideas, or is it just too easy to leave well alone?


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