… BRITISH RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP GEARS UP FOR ROUSING RETURN IN 2016 …
The MSA British Rally Championship returns in 2016 with an exciting new-look calendar to go with the revised vehicle eligibility regulations that were announced in January.
In what’s set to be the biggest shake-up for many years, next season’s revitalised BRC will be staged throughout the British Isles and will include a mix of gravel and asphalt surfaces to provide crews with the ultimate challenge in national rallying.
Starting in March and concluding in September, the new championship will comprise seven events, of which four are retained from previous years, while three are new or returning rounds of the championship.
The campaign opens with the Mid Wales Stages, using the legendary forests of Myherin and Hafren that test the world’s best drivers each year on Wales Rally GB. A visit to Belfast after Easter allows crew to test themselves against the FIA European Rally Championship’s top stars on the UK’s second biggest stage rally, the Circuit of Ireland, before returning to Carlisle for the first of four long-standing BRC events, the Pirelli Rally.
Having tackled Kielder over the Bank Holiday weekend, the BRC crews will take on the Borders’ asphalt for the Jim Clark Rally at the end of May. The Scottish Rally occupies its traditional date at the end of June, before an eight-week gap to the championship’s second visit to Northern Ireland for the Ulster Rally in August. The season will conclude with a journey north for the end of year celebrations at the Granite City Rally in Aberdeen, which put on such a great show earlier this year.
The inclusion of a made-for-TV one-day special event remains a possibility for 2016, subject to discussions with broadcast partners and securing a suitable venue/date.
2016 British Rally Championship dates*
March 5th/6th – Mid Wales Stages (Gravel)
April 8th/9th – Circuit of Ireland (Asphalt)
April 29th/30th – Pirelli Rally (Gravel)
May 27th/28th – Jim Clark Rally (Asphalt)
June 24th/25th – RSAC Scottish Rally (Gravel)
August 19th/20th – Ulster Rally (Asphalt)
September 9th/10th – Granite City Rally (Gravel)
* subject to approval by the MSA
Ben Taylor, IMS Managing Director, said: “Compiling a brand new calendar has been one of the most challenging aspects of putting the new BRC together; every event and date change has ramifications across the sport and we have tried to be mindful of that. We are grateful to all the events that expressed an interest in being involved, either next year or in the future – they have taken a great leap of faith to support what we are trying to achieve.”
“I am thrilled with the quality of the events that we have secured on the calendar and I am sure they will provide the best possible test of the best drivers in British rallying next year.”
“But we should also spare a thought for those events that narrowly missed out. We have had to make some tough decisions, but we feel that this is the optimal calendar to relaunch the championship in 2016. Nothing is set in stone beyond that and we will continue to talk with them; it is important that ambitious events know that the BRC is not a closed shop.”
Now that the calendar has been agreed, Taylor explained that his team’s attention will turn to the remaining aspects of the creation of the new championship.
“Competitors, teams and events need as much notice as possible to get things in place for next year, so we have moved to publish the calendar as early as we can. I would like to thank everyone that has played a part so far, as the creation of a new and exciting championship takes a huge amount of work. We are nowhere near finished yet and there are still a lot of things to sort out, like TV and media, one-make championships and prize funds.”
“I must also pay tribute to the sport and the other championships, because there has been a lot of change and uncertainty caused by the absence of a BRC in 2015 and then the creation of a new series for 2016. We have been clear in our ambitions to raise standards and provide a fitting pinnacle for the long-term strength of the UK rally scene, and it is encouraging that most people throughout the sport seem to have welcomed this approach. The most important thing is that we all work together as one sport to give the competitors and the fans what they want, which will make the events more successful and the clubs behind them stronger. “
“We now look forward to starting work with our partner events to create the best possible rallies for our competitors and putting in place the remaining elements to create an outstanding and exciting new British Rally Championship.”
“The enthusiasm to date has been overwhelming and, while we know that talk is cheap and what counts is what happens in March 2016, if only half of those who say they are coming actually turn up, we’ll be absolutely delighted.”
Mark Higgins (British Rally Champion 1997, 2005 and 2006): “The British championship has historically been a fantastic stepping stone for aspiring drivers aiming for the WRC, especially as it allows crews to recce and make their own pace notes on fantastic events and stages. I’m very glad to see the championship back again and hope the new format can put it back on the map as one of the best the world.”
Daniel McKenna (British Rally Champion 2014): “The BRC was an important stepping stone for me to cut my teeth and prepare for the World Championship. To follow in the footsteps of great names like Burns, Vatanen and McRae is a real achievement and honour.”
“It’s a great move for the BRC to adopt the R5 rules as drivers can enter the British series and then use the same car in the WRC and ERC, keeping costs down and allowing young talent to develop against the world’s best. I would certainly love to defend my title next year in what will be an exciting year for the BRC. It won’t be long before it is back to the success of its heyday.”
Osian Pryce (British Rally Championship runner-up 2013 and 2014): “The British Rally Championship was once the world’s best domestic series and, from what I’ve seen in recent months, it looks like we could be back on the road to that sort of standing again. The calendar is a great mix of new rallies and classic events. And, obviously, starting in mid-Wales is the best news!”
“British rallying needs a strong BRC and after a year away, I’m sure our premier series is going to come back stronger than ever in March.”