15 Aug: M-Sport – Testing Times

Gathering to celebrate 40 Years in Business for M-Sport Managing Director Malcolm Wilson OBE, staff at the Cockermouth-based motorsport company are also looking to the future with work on a state-of-the-art Evaluation Centre at the Dovenby Hall Estate now entering its final phase.

The multi-million-pound development includes a 2.5 kilometre test track which was completed in 2017. Designed to FIA standards, the track includes a 750 metre straight, 70 metre low friction area, steady state cornering pad and a variety of corners to best test the latest motorsport and automotive technologies.

Work has now also begun on the self-contained workshop and conference centre that will complete the unique venue – a new 10,723 m2 space enabling M-Sport to attract mainstream manufacturers seeking a high-tech engineering facility to design and test bespoke products and technologies.

The project was made possible with investment from the UK Government’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF), as well as Growth Fund investment provided by Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP) – allowing M-Sport to develop a one-of-a-kind facility in the UK and ensuring Cumbria plays its part to boost local economy, skills and innovation within the region of the Northern Powerhouse.

M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“When I started the company 40 years ago, I never dreamt it would expend into what it is today. I never thought we would outgrow Dovenby Hall, but here we are in the midst of building the M‑Sport Evaluation Centre – a centre of excellence for engineering design and development that will grow the business while safeguarding 200 skilled jobs and creating a further 100.

“It’s always been important for me to keep the business in Cumbria, and with investment from Cumbria LEP we’re able to expand on the success we’ve achieved over the years. Creating a one-of-a-kind facility that is unique in the United Kingdom, the M-Sport Evaluation Centre will allow us to provide an exclusive facility where world leaders in automotive technology can follow their concepts from design and development, right through to production.”

Chair of the Investment Panel at Cumbria LEP, Jim Jackson, said:

“Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership is committed to supporting economic growth across the region and we’re delighted that this £1.3 million investment from the Government’s Local Growth Fund will drive M-Sport’s exciting expansion plans and encourage inward investment in Cumbria.

“The Evaluation Centre will help M-Sport take advantage of new opportunities in areas such as renewable energy, creating local jobs, and bringing in further motorsport and engineering excellence, with an overall investment impact in terms of Gross Value Added (GVA) to Cumbria estimated to be £24.4m by December 2025.
 
“The CLEP wishes to send its congratulations to M-Sport on their 40-year anniversary and their world‑leading, award-winning achievements to date. The future in terms of motorsport, engineering and innovation is fantastic for Cumbria and we wish them every success.”

15 Aug: New Look for Galloway

The Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally has launched the 46th edition of the popular South-West of Scotland event today (14th August) with further details on the British Rally Championship and KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship qualifier which will take place on Saturday 14th September.

Sponsored for the 20th year by The Armstrong Group, the event will for the first time since 1999 move away from its traditional rally base of Castle Douglas to the iconic town of Dalbeattie, a name synonymous with the sport across the decades. 
 
The move just a couple of miles down the Urr Valley to Dalbeattie will see all pre-event checks, Rally Headquarters and ceremonial start being based at Jas P Wilson’s newly extended campus, ensuring a compact format to the weekend’s proceedings. The shift also opens the classic Dalbeattie stage to the event, which will be tackled by crews for the first time in five years.
 
Organised as a collaboration between Solway, Machars and East Ayrshire Car Clubs the now traditional final round of the Scottish Rally Championship has, for the first time, been joined by the prestigious British Rally Championship which has led to a brand-new format for the event in 2019.
 
Leaving the ceremonial start at around 9.30am, crews in the Scottish Rally Championship, Border Challenge and HRCR Motoscope Northern Historic Gravel Rally Championship will tackle five classic stages, kicking off with the adjacent Dalbeattie test, totalling 44 miles in the Dumfries and Galloway Forests. After a tough day in the forests, the finish celebrations will take place at around 15:30  with the winners getting the chance to spray the champagne.
 
British Rally Championship crews will have a tougher challenge ahead, after a chance to make their own notes in the forests during the pre-event recce on Friday 13th September, a total of nine stages and 75 miles form their route on Saturday. Also utilising classic forest tests in the region, they will have an early wake up with an 8.00am start in Dalbeattie before they get the chance to celebrate a finish, which will see the crowning of the new British Champion, from around 18:00.

Traditionally the rally has brought a large contingent of crews across the Irish Sea and Europe, all eager to sample classic Scottish rallying tests in the region, which has been possible thanks to the Galloway Hills Rally being the proud recipient of a grant from Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Major Festivals and Events Strategy 2018-2021. This valuable contribution is used to encourage competitors to enter with 2019 offering a wide range of incentives for crews.
 
Since 2014, the rally has awarded over £30,000 in Competitor Incentives, thanks to a travel subsidy and Entry Refund Draws, both of which continue this year thanks to the ongoing support of Dumfries and Galloway Council. The offering is unique and is the only UK rally to provide such an incentive, reinforcing the Galloway Hills Rally’s commitment to being 100% competitor focused.
 
Crews in the National B event which houses Scottish Rally Championship crews can take advantage of free ferry crossings from Belfast with event partners Stena Line. This will be limited to the first eight crews who apply for the travel bursary.
 
For competitors in both the National A and B events, the ‘#InItToWinIt’ competition returns, meaning for every ten entries received, one crew will be drawn at random to receive an entry fee discount of £250, up to the total value of £2,000. Those entering early, therefore, have the greatest opportunity to win.
 
The Galloway Hills Rally was the winner of SRC Chairman’s Cup for Best Event in 2017, and Clerk of the Course of the rally Michael Riddick believes this year is one of the most exciting opportunities for the event and the region.
 
“It really is an honour to be hosting the final round of the British Rally Championship for the first time and bringing some of the best drivers in the business to the region is exciting for motorsport fans in Scotland,” he says.
 
“But it really wouldn’t be the Galloway Hills Rally without the Scottish Rally Championship and our other series along too and having both side by side is superb for us. We have been working very hard to offer an event that crews in all championship will want to do, but also those who want to visit the region and sample our unrivalled stages too. The format we have devised allows both the 45 and 75 mile events to get priority, whilst creating a compact route for both events.
 
We are very proud of the rally and our small but experienced team every year, and we are sure that 2019 will offer competitors and fans a fantastic day rallying in Dumfries and Galloway” he says.

“We are indebted to the support of our sponsors the Armstrong Group and of course to Dumfries and Galloway Council for their invaluable grant which helps us attract competitors from all corners of the country and Ireland. There is sure to be some great action on the stages for everyone to enjoy, and we are looking forward to welcoming you all to our new rally base at Jas P Wilson in Dalbeattie”.

The Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally event regulations are now available to download and entries are now open on the event website. This also includes route information and details on this year’s competitor incentives.

Spectator information, including times for access to Jas P Wilson in Dalbeattie on Friday and Saturday, will be available in the coming weeks at http://gallowayhillsrally.co.uk/spectators/where-to-watch/

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