by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 6
41 WRC INSIGHT >> WRC INSIGHT >> THE British Rally Championship had a quiet start. Records show that Stuart Turner, who went on to become a team manager in the heyday of BMC, and later for Ford, was the co-driver champion for the first two years, but he only discovered this recently! “In those days,” Turner explains, “the BTRDA Gold and Silver Star series were the primary ambitions in our sport.” The sport itself was quite different in the late 1950s. Many rallies were decided by driving tests, spinning your car round pylons on a promenade somewhere or other. Nowadays celebratory spin turns are banned for safety reasons … Nobody can definitively recall how the BRC series got off the ground, except to note that Saloon Car Racing, now the BTCC, seemed to have started at a similar time. Open road rallying was the strength of national rally sport in the 1960s. All the famous British drivers were active in the lanes of the land on Saturday nights. As the nation’s forests became available for events such as the Scottish and the Welsh, the national championship started to comprise a mixture of forest and road rallying, in addition to closed public road rallying in the Circuit of Ireland and the Isle of Man. Only in 1971 did the series abandon road rallying altogether. Meanwhile television was introduced in British rallying, through the commercial expertise of Nick Brittan and the film making talents of Barrie Hinchcliffe. This helped the series become really strong, and attract foreign drivers, inevitably Scandinavians seeking experience for future rallying fame and fortune on budget level British events. The entry for the 1979 Scottish Rally listed no fewer than 13 visiting drivers in the top 20. From 1976 to 1980, only once did a British driver (Russell Brookes) take the top title. Factory team cars were everywhere, these were great days. In recent years the factory rally teams have concentrated on the World Championship which has turned the BRC into a battlefield for British importers’ teams. In the new Millennium the British series was dominated by private drivers who ran their own teams. The rules of the championship were forever being changed to ensure the series remained relevant within the prevailing circumstances. For several years it was a series for Kit Cars (two-litre normally-aspirated, front- wheel drive cars), and for 2006 a ban on World Rally Cars was introduced. Rallies themselves were divided into sub-events, each catering for differing aspects of the sport. The late Ron Goldbourn is recorded as Britain’s first official rally champion. He was a motor trader from the English Black Country around Stoke on Trent. He competed in Standard Triumph cars, mostly at a private level, and occasionally for the factory. He retired back into the trade while Turner, his co-driver, then a motorsport journalist, went on to set the trend for British co-drivers winning the RAC Rally with a foreign driver. For years afterwards British drivers struggled to make their way in the sport, while its co- drivers became a sine qua non for foreigners which continues to this day. The British championship has truly helped form the sport we have today. Why the British Rally Championship is important 50-Year BRC Presentation (L-R): Barrie Williams (Welsh Rally winner), Roy Fidler (1966 champion), David Higgins (2004 champion), Martin Holmes (champion co-driver, 1971), Bryan Thomas (1994/2000/2005 champion co-driver), Guy Wilks (2007 champion) and Martin Rowe (1998 champion) MArtin HolMes rallies editor o p in io n