By David Love
As everyone now knows there have been substantial changes to the MSA British Rally Championship and I’d like to bore you with my own personal views of the main changes and how it may affect our own round of the championship. As I say these are my observations formed from the information I have gleaned from various sources, at the end of the day they count for nothing, as they have no affect on championship decisions so in the end what will be will be. I’m only writing this because Caroline needs something to put in the newsletter.
Something had to change in the championship; entry levels were disappointing even if the competition was good. Rising costs for organisers, competitors and marshals were contributing to the problem. We needed changes to raise interest in the championship and keep costs under control. The MSA and the BRC management realised this and have come up with changes that will hopefully achieve these aims while maybe not causing an enthusiasts pulse to race.
The biggest change to the championship is that events will run under a National A permit. Some may think this is a step down but I don’t think so. Events can apply to the MSA for a permit allowing international crews to enter, which is what the Pirelli intends to do. That is why the name of the rally will not change. The change of permit also means that crews can enter the main rally on a National A licence, provided they have a car that complies to the championship regulations. If they can afford to buy one, I hear you say. Well the change of permit may even help to reduce that cost. Under International Regulations a car has to be homologated and for that to happen a certain number of cars have to be produced and only a manufacturer has the necessary wherewithal to afford that. But under the National A permit only one car needs to be built and it will be eligible for the championship as long as it conforms to R1, R2 or R3 regulations. While this might not necessarily encourage manufacturers to build and enter cars there are already several teams interested building a one off for the championship. There is a possibility of 3 new makes of car being entered in next years championship. If there are more choices of car that might help to bring the purchase price and running costs down, well I can dream can’t I? One result of this must surely result in an increase of entries in the championship, which has got to be good for marshals & spectators. It may even result in even more intense competition.
What of our local event, the Pirelli? It will still be run to international standards with the same standard of safety coverage as before. The big change is that the event reverts back to running on Saturday and Sunday. This will reduce the number of nights that a championship contender and support crew will have to spend in a hotel. It had been intended to keep the stage mileage around 100 miles and an outline route had been planned to achieve this but at a recent meeting with manufacturers and teams they requested rallies of about 75 stage miles. It would appear that they also want to reduce their costs and a 25% reduction of stage mileage means a good savings in parts and tyres. This stage mileage will now become the norm for BRC rounds. There will also be a round of the MSA Historic Rally Championship running on Saturday.
The Pirelli will also run 2 separate national rallies, one on Saturday and the other on Sunday. An early afternoon start for the Saturday national will allow competitors to arrive for scrutineering on the morning and head home in the evening, which will save on accommodation costs. The Sunday morning event will have less stage mileage than the previous day’s one and will be a trophy rally allowing retirements from the BRC to rejoin. It is intended that these events will be competitively priced and offer excellent value to the national competitor.
OK! These changes may not set your heart racing but we have to be realistic. It would be nice to have a British Championship with a healthy manufacturer presence, single use stages and 150 plus competitive mileages but it ain’t going to happen in the foreseeable future. It may never happen, ever! Rallying and the world have changed drastically in the last 20 years and we have to accept that. Those of us old enough to remember and have experience those golden days should be forever grateful but it is time to move on and accept, support and participate in the new order. That way things can only get better.