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British Rally Championship Champions Collection

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British Rally Championship Champions Collection Empty British Rally Championship Champions Collection

Post  reeft1 on Sun Mar 20, 2016 3:06 pm

Some time ago I started building a collection of cars that had won the British Rally Championship. In a moment of weakness I decided to try and build/collect all the cars going back to the inception of the BRC in 1958. This was a stupid decision. I assumed I would easily find colour pictures, articles and the like clearly providing all the information needed. I don’t know if you realised this, but google and the internet weren’t big in the late 50’s and early 60’s. In fact, photo evidence or written evidence has proven as easy to locate as the City of Atlantis. Also, the British Rally Championship was not the pre-eminent rally competition in the 50’s or 60’s. Indeed, the Motoring News Rally Championship and the British Trial and Rally Drivers Association Championship in particular were more highly thought of. Couple that with the fact that the main motoring news magazine/paper happened to sponsor one of the competing championships, and press coverage of the BRC was, shall we say, very limited.
Nevertheless, the collection from 1958 to 2014 was finished this morning, and so here it is. It’s been a battle, but I hope you like them as much as I have enjoyed bringing this together.

The 50’s
The BRC itself first started in 1958 when events were generally long distance trials, with competitors divided into classes in which the drivers who were the most dominant in their class would be the overall winner of the event. Navigational night sections and driving tests were the primary way of defining the results. Overall classifications were not regarded as the benchmark of defining the relative performance of crews, positions in classes and special awards were what mattered. The inaugural winner of the BRC was Ron Gouldbourn with Stuart Turner in the co-driver seat. Ron also won the BTRDA in 1958. Stuart Turner has competed as co-driver on most major international rallies, he became Sports Editor of "Motoring News" then Competition Manager for BMC, managing the rally team when Minis were winning Monte Carlo Rallies. He joined Ford as Competitions Manager, guiding the team to wins on the Safari and London-to-Mexico rallies, European and World Championships. He is a renowned after dinner speaker and I was fortunate to exchange some correspondence with him. Stuart confirmed that the BTRDA was the one to win in the 50’s and they didn’t even realise that they had won the BRC until some time after the season had finished. He recalls Ron being a very good driver, but for some reason he wasn’t trusted by the Triumph Competitions manager, and as such was never allowed to use the competition cars in the British Championship. Ron used his own car in the BRC and other UK events and Stuart recalls that “the TR is every bit as iconic as the Mini, the Escort and the Quattro. You have to remember that in the late ’50s they were everywhere. If you were on a rally with an entry of 100 cars, as many as 50 would be Triumphs. It became the car to have. Of course, it was also very low and I remember losing a minute on one rally just trying to get out of the car – the base of the door kept hitting the kerb! “You didn’t have to do much to make them competitive, that was the key. Back then rally cars really were production cars. On one occasion I borrowed a TR from a dealer in Stoke on Trent and all we did was pump up the tyres a bit, attach some cardboard to the dashboard to stop reflections from the map light and off we went. I drove the car back to the showroom the following Monday.” Stuart can’t recall much about the specifics of Ron’s  personal TR3A, (and the various Triumph car clubs can’t find anything in their archives and the DVLA won’t play ball), but thinks it was dark green with a hardtop, hence car 1 in this picture. Car 2 represents the Triumph Competition car which Ron drove to 10th overall and 1st in class victory in the Tulip Rally in 1958 – why have I modelled an International car not used in the BRC? Read on to 1959….
These are 2 modified/part repainted Corgi models, one with homemade decals.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020702_zpsmdshfbxv

Stuart was again in the co-driver chair in 1959, but this time supporting John Sprinzel – a legend in the Triumph Sprite community, having developed a number of specials used in motorsports and being highly competitive in his Sprite in the BTCC. Again, I was fortunate enough to track down John to Hawaii of all places! Because rallies were so tough on cars which were to all intents and purposes fresh from the showroom, cars broke regularly. From my investigations I’m pretty confident that John and Stuart rallied 4 different cars together in 1959. They started off with their pale blue Frogeye Sprite which John drove to 14th overall in the Monte Carlo rallye that year. They also used an Alfa Giulietta. From one black and white picture of the Alfa with its bonnet up, there is a high probability that the Alfa used by John in 1959 corresponds to one in the central records at Alfa Romeo who have recorded the following for a car with the chassis ending 2736 – “According to our documentation files, the chassis number AR 1468.02736 originally corresponds to an Alfa Romeo Giulietta t.i., manufactured on the 24th February 1958. The body colour is “Elvezia” blue (AR 315).” The Giulietta register recorded the car with the prior chassis number (2735) as being brought into this country by Thomson & Taylor the importers. Unfortunately, despite the passing of time, and despite explaining why I was after the information, the DVLA wouldn’t divulge whether they had any information on the car, including the UK registration. I also tried to trace the person who John believes the Alfa was sold to – I think I found her but unfortunately I have not been able to obtain a response to my emails. John also used an Austin A35 on the Coupe des Alpes but was a DNF. As the year progressed, John designed a new more aerodynamic front end for his PMO200 Sprite, and this was the forerunner to the development of the Speedwell Sprites. The car in more aerodynamic form finished 9th overall in the Liege-Rome-Liege event. So, why build international rally cars? John’s recollection (which for transparency is different to Stuarts) is that “The Monte, in fact, counted towards the Championship, as you scored points for 1,2 & 3 in class on Internationals as well as 1,2 & 3 in the General classification.” I’ve used John’s recollection as the justification for the 1958 Tulip Rally TR3A. John also won the BTRDA in 1959.
The Pale Blue Monte Car is a Spark issue, the Elvezia Blue Alfa is a de-decaled partswork, the banana yellow A35 from K&R Replicas and the Grey Speedwell bonneted Sprite is a modified K&R kit with homemade decals.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection IMG_5148%20002_zps7ksgiczc

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Post  reeft1 on Sun Mar 20, 2016 3:06 pm

The 60’s
At the start of the ‘60s the sport took a new and significant turn when special stages on the newly available Forestry Commission roads for the big events. Night navigation however remained a dominant part of the series, the qualifying rounds now intermingled with the classic international rallies in the various British regions. Then a much greater availability of forest stages during the ‘60s increased the opportunities of developing the special stage sport. This in turn helped give a new and stronger identity to the BRC which at the time was being a little eclipsed by the popularity of the concurrent Motoring News road rally championship.
1960 and 1961
When 12 year old Bill Bengry was fined £25 for driving a car on the highway in the 1930's it looked as though his motoring life had got off to a bad start.  But from this expensive beginning Bill has come a long way in the world and reached heights in motor sport which he never dreamt possible at that tender age,
Bill, who lived in Leominster, is the possessor of over 200 cups and trophies won in local, national and international motoring circles and has the distinction of being the first man to be RAC British Rally Champion for two consecutive years.
Through hard work and an indomitable will he has made his mark in sport and business.  Time and time again he has come through against the odds and is a man to relish a challenge
A sleeping interest in motor sport was first aroused in Bill in 1947 when his brother-in-law was a works driver for Coopers who were dominating their class in races and hill-climbs.
He competed in many hill-climbs and rallies. He says now, "The rallies were longer in those days and relied mainly on good navigation, and I had a job to find a navigator.
"Modern rallies lay greater emphasis on the ability of the driver.  There are so many good navigators that this has to be so.
"Times are now taken down to seconds - not just average speed - and on the special timed stages of a rally you must have a good driver and a car with a good performance."
He began to take up serious rally driving in 1954 when he took on the Volkswagen agency.
Although the Volkswagen was considered by experts to be unsuitable for rally work, within six years Bill was RAC British Rally Champion, Motoring News champion and the BTRDA Gold Star champion.  This was achieved against stiff opposition and he was the first driver to win all three.
It was in 1960 that he took part in his first international - the RAC Rally of Britain - and he considers that it was in this event that he gave his best performance.  Certainly it put him into the "big time" of rallying.
As his navigator he had David Skeffington, who has shared many of his successes, and together they competed against international stars in Bill's privately entered Volkswagen.
From the start the little red car was considered to have no chance and was number 110.  But after the first night it was one of only three cars not to lose points.
Then ill-fortune struck.  From lying third Bill dropped to eighth due to five tyre bursts on special stages.  They finished the rally in this position and were second in their class.
By Jeremy Finney.  Taken from the Hereford Evening News, Friday September 24, 1965.

Although I can no longer trace the article, I did read at one stage that in one year (1960 or 1961) a river crossing was so flooded that most cars came a cropper trying to ford it – not Bill and the Bettle – they floated across!!
I have exchanged correspondence with Bill’s family as Bill has sadly passed away, but we have been unable to locate pictures of the Beetle from 1961. We know it was the same car used for both years, so the 1961 car is presented here in “base” form – if ever I find any pictures, I will decal it up. Bill won both the Motoring News and BTRDA Championships in 1961 in addition to the BRC. The only BRC event in 1960 which Bill won was, I believe, the season finale, Rally of the Vales.
The cars are modified/resprayed partsworks with homemade decals:
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020704_zpsoft3cqaw
1962 and 1963
Tony Fisher was a Privateer rally driver, with clearly a wealth of talent and someone who knew how to hustle a Mini Cooper. Tony won the BRC, BTRDA and Motoring News Championships in 1962 and followed up with the BRC and BTRDA in 1963. In 1962 he drove a 997cc Mini Cooper, and used the same car again in 1963 but added to it an International Grp 2 spec Cooper 1071cc car which was not eligible for BRC events other than the RAC rally. I don’t believe the 1071cc car finished the RAC in 1963. I haven't been able to trace results from 1962, but in 1963 I believe Tony won the following BRC events - Cat's Eyes, Express and Star
These are modified/resprayed partsworks with homemade decals.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020705_zpsaablswuk
I’d never heard of Eric Jackson until I started work on this collection. The man should be a legend! Used extensively by Fords on the marathon rallies (round the world, London to Cape Town, London to Sydney), the man and his co-driver Ken Chambers set record after record. Some of the stories (nearly eaten by cannibals, nearly dying of thirst in a desert, saved by nuns etc. ) would be unbelievable in todays rallying age – his book Petrol in my Blood is a great read.
The Cortina GT here is his 3rd place Circuit of Ireland car from 1964 (according to his book it would seem he didn’t win any events outright that year, his best finish was 2nd of the Scottish but I couldn’t locate any pictures of that rally, however I have found another record source which suggests the Bournemouth Rally may have been a BRC event in 1964 and it would appear Eric may have won that event). Eric also won the BTRDA in 1964. He did drive another Cortina in 1964 which he managed to set fire too – a replacement car was sourced from Fords competition department manager who thinking it was a wrecked shell sold it to Eric for a small amount of money – it turned out to be a fully works prepared shell – Eric wasn’t embarrassed at the bargain as he felt that as a works team driver, having to pay for your own car was a bit rich in the first place!
This is a modified Vanguards with homemade decals.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection IMG_5258%20002_zps4aydcd6c
The great Roger Clark with his first of 4 British Rally Championships. Roger drove 2 types of Cortina in 1965. The first from the Scottish Rally was a Cortina GT. Later in the year, (he used it at the 2nd running of the Welsh in the same year but there is some suggestion that may not have been a BRC event but I have included it here on the offchance), Roger switched to a Lotus Cortina. Roger also won the London Rally in a Cortina GT in 1965.
The former is a Corgi model, the latter a modified Minichamps car with homemade decals.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020708_zpsuf06ncou
The origins of the Triumph 2000’s long and honourable career in international rallying came some considerable time before the car was even launched.  Although the Leyland takeover of Triumph had resulted in the total discontinuance of competition activities, some at least of Triumph’s new masters recognised that, for a maker of sports cars to be credible in world markets, a measure of factory-backed competition participation was necessary.  For 1962, therefore, a limited programme of rallying using TR4s was approved, the TRs later being joined by Vitesses in a number of events.  Although the Vitesse never made any significant impact during its short works rallying career, the TR4s were rapid and well-handling cars that enjoyed a certain amount of success during their first season.  Nevertheless, with international rallying increasingly favouring the use of high-speed stages over rough off-road courses, the light and low-built TRs were at a considerable disadvantage against the likes of the works Citroën DS19s, Ford Cortinas and Zodiacs, and Mercedes-Benz 220/300SEs.  Even the works Rover 3-Litres, rather hobbled by the Solihull firm’s insistence on using near-standard cars, were beginning to make their presence felt.  It thus became increasingly clear that, if Triumph was to maintain a worthwhile presence in rallying without resorting to the use of expensive homologation specials, it really had to have a large, strong and rapid saloon of its own.  That the forthcoming 2000 should find itself cast into this role was, therefore, almost inevitable.
The story of just how Triumph’s competitions strategy came to embrace the 2000 has been recounted authoritatively by the then-Competitions Department Manager Graham Robson in his book The Works Triumphs  - suffice it to say that, for 1964, Triumph Spitfires would be used for racing (primarily at Le Mans) and for the remaining high-speed, all-tarmac rallies.  For off-road rallies and endurance events such as the Monte Carlo and Spa-Sofia-Liège, the Triumph 2000 would be the company’s instrument of choice.  In order to maximise the cars’ chances of success, it was decided to prepare them in line with the then-current regulations for Group 3 (‘Grand Touring’) cars which permitted a considerable degree of detail modification to the production design, a tactic also being exploited by BMC with the Austin-Healey 3000 and Mini-Cooper and Ford with the Lotus-Cortina.  Four 2000s were thus laid-down, registered AHP 424-427B.  Externally, the cars looked fairly standard other than for their additional lights, black-painted bonnet panels (to minimise dazzle) and 15-inch TR4 wheels (to maximise ground clearance), but this unassuming appearance was certainly deceptive.  In addition to strengthening of the bodyshell and some other structural members, engines had been extensively modified with higher compression ratios, re-profiled camshafts, triple Weber carburettors and special free-flow exhausts to boost power to a peaky but extremely impressive 150bhp.  Transmission-wise, a shorter final-drive ratio and limited-slip differential were combined with a wide ratio version of the overdrive gearbox, overdrive being available on second, third and top gears to produce what was effectively a seven-speed transmission. Lastly, to ensure that the end result could stop just as well as it could go, larger brakes were fitted, albeit of the established disc/drum configuration. All this, plus homologation of the basic car itself, naturally took some time, and the 2000’s first works appearance in international competition was on the Spa-Sofia-Liège marathon in August 1964.  Although not competitive on times with the very fastest cars, the three Triumphs entered on this fast and extremely punishing event acquitted themselves very well until the return leg through Yugoslavia when they suddenly retired with broken rear suspension mountings.  As already recorded, this weakness was quickly addressed, and all four works 2000s were entered for the RAC Rally, those of Roy Fidler and Terry Hunter taking second and third places in their class, behind Timo Makinen’s Austin-Healey 3000. For 1965, the range of events for which the works 2000s were entered was expanded considerably, though entries had to be chosen carefully to maximise class marking advantages.  An additional car (EHP 78C), largely conforming to the proven specification but of left-hand drive format, was also built for new team member Simo Lampinen, but also used by other works drivers on Continental events.  The sole 2000 entry in the Monte Carlo rally retired with a blown engine, but successes quickly followed in the Circuit of Ireland, Tulip, RAC and Welsh rallies, Jean-Jacques Thuner and Roy Fidler taking well-earned first places in class on the Tulip and the RAC respectively.  Thuner’s Tulip entry, EHP 78C, was subsequently borrowed for test by Motor magazine which evidently enjoyed the experience, pronouncing it to be one of the best five-seater sports cars it had yet tried!  Perhaps even more interesting if less spectacular was Fidler’s RAC rally car (AHP 426B) which, in order to exploit class marking advantages in that event, had been rebuilt to the rather less exotic Group 2 specification with standard carburation, wheels and brakes. About the only consistent weakness on these first works 2000s concerned their transmissions, which were put under a heavy burden not just by the power of the highly-tuned engines, but also the considerable all-up weight of the car.  A technical solution to this could undoubtedly have been devised but, unfortunately, this was not to happen.  Triumph’s competitions activities during this period would be characterised not only by tight budgets but also a considerable degree of organisational and political uncertainty.  It was entirely understandable that competitions spend should be balanced by a certain degree of success and concomitant enhancement of Triumph’s market image, but some of the Leyland management seem to have expected rather better results (i.e. overall victories with near-standard cars) than were reasonable given the circumstances.
For 1966, however, the pressures on the Triumph team would increase yet further, new regulations effectively outlawing the highly-modified Group 3 2000s.  Short of wholesale withdrawal from the sport, Triumph had two choices; either to revert to using near-standard Group 1 machines, or otherwise to build for sale sufficient Group 3 ‘replicas’ to permit such a vehicle to qualify for homologation.  Sadly, but probably realistically, there was never much chance of Triumph approving an ‘homologation special’, even in the rather more civilised form proposed for the 2000TS; hard-pressed production managers were unwilling to accept the inevitable disruption such a model would create (as competition bosses at BMC and Ford were also to find out), whilst the sales function had some understandable concerns as to the potential implications for the image of the ‘normal’ 2000.  In addition, Triumph’s competitions activities were being subject to ever-increasing financial scrutiny by its Leyland masters so, accordingly (and perhaps bouyed by Roy Fidler’s RAC Rally success in a near-standard vehicle), the decision was taken to participate in a reduced 1966 programme using Group 1 cars.  Three such vehicles (FHP 992-994C) were entered in the 1966 Monte Carlo Rally and, despite being pitted against considerably faster and more exotic machinery, Roy Fidler managed to take 14th place overall.  The remaining Triumph entries, however, did not finish and this, coupled with the controversy over the disqualification of many of the winning entries that year, indirectly led to Triumph’s complete withdrawal as a works team, though limited factory support would continue to be given to selected private entries.  Fidler was permitted to buy FHP 993C (slightly uprated with triple Webers and wide-ratio gearbox) as the basis for his own rallying programme and, despite retirements in the Gulf London and RAC rallies, did sufficiently well in a number of other events to secure the 1966 RAC British Rally Championship. Roy did however run one of the Group 3 cars on the 1966 COI to finish 4th overall.
The two cars here are both repainted Neo models - the Welsh car was produced with grateful help from Dave "Zeus", the COI car could not have been produced without the assistance of Bill Swann and in particular Peter Allen of the Ulster Automobile Club - thank you both gentlemen.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection IMG_5233%20002_zps2y2mzoj7
Jim Bullough with his famous co-driver Don Barrow sewed up the British rally scene in 1967 in their Lotus Cortina Mk1 winning the BRC, BTRDA and Motoring News Championships. This redecaled/right hand drive conversion of a Trofeu model represents the Rally of the Vales winning car (the Value was a qualifying event in the Motoring News, BRC (RAC) and BTRDA in 1966. Jim won 5 Motoring News Events in 1967, and 1 other "may" have been an event in the BRC that year - the Bolton rally.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection IMG_5259%20002_zpsrg7doz1n
Colin Malkin - 23 August 1942, Coventry - 23 Jan. 2006 (aged 63). Son of Coventry garagist 'Codger' Malkin. His father was a rallyman; his brothers Keith and Barrie used to autocross. Colin did, too, winning awards in a Mini and a Lotus 6.During his lifetime he won two London to Sydney rallies as well as the prestigious Vuelta a la America del Sud. He won not just the international rallies but in 1968 was the winner of all three British Rally Championships at the wheel of a special one-litre Hillman Rallye Imp.
I can't find positive confirmation Colin won any BRC events outright in 1968 (although there is some suggestion that the Bolton, Vales and Express and Star rallies were BRC events and he won those) so the car modelled here is 3rd place overall from the 1968 Scottish Rally.
This is a modified Vanguards model with homemade decals.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection IMG_5230%20002_zps9r8lcmpv
John Bloxham won the BRC, Motoring News and BTRDA Championships in 1969. He is a member of the Ecurie Cod Fillet rally group, which in 2008 counted 16 of the 23 BRC rally champions as members. He ran a couple of cars in 1969. He described (via his rally driving son who I exchanged correspondence with) that the Lancia Fulvia was totally unreliable so was ditched part way through the season. The Mk1 Escort Lotus Twin Cam became the car of choice for John although later in the year he changed the “sh!t” (his words again!) rectangular headlamps for round ones part way through the season.
The Lancia modelled here represents the Welsh Rally car from 1969. The Twin Cam is yet to be decaled as I haven’t been able to find any pictures from 1969 BRC events - there is some suggestion that he won 2 events in the BRC in 1969 - the Vales and Bolton rallies.
The Lancia is a partswork with homemade decals and wheel arch extensions as the car ran on the Welsh event, the Twin Cam is a de-decaled Trofeu model.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection IMG_0811_zps62n92ubf

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Post  reeft1 on Sun Mar 20, 2016 3:07 pm

The 70’s

The BRC in 1970 saw the end of the old age when Will Sparrow won three of the nine qualifying events, with victory on the road event Rally of the Vales before wins on both the Welsh and the Hackle special stage events.  The car was a very well prepared Mini Cooper S, a throwback to the previous age of rallying.  Sparrow’s main challenger was fellow privateer Chris Sclater who went on to take the title in 1971. Will Sparrow used 2 Mk2 Mini Cooper S cars during 1970. Will built his cars from bare shells himself so some officianados won’t call them true Cooper S’.

WNX700H. It ran a 1275cc engine and had some form of bonnet "bulge" fitted to accomodate a different carb at some point during 1970. It was 1st overall on the 1970 Welsh Rally which was the last international rally event won by a Mini (excluding the BMW version :-)). It was rolled in Oct 1970 on the Tour of Mull and returned in 1971 with a Clubman front end. Will also won the Vales and Hackle events in 1970 which I believe were BRC events.

VNX700H. Group 2 1275 Mk 2 Cooper S used to win his class and finish 11th overall on 1970 RAC which was a qualifying event in the BRC that year.
These are 2 de-decaled/repainted Vitesse models with homemade decals.

British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020714_zpsg212rdo6
Chris Sclater’s 1971 Escort RS1600 (1.8l) – Partswork plus homemade decals/Rallymodels.co.uk decals to represent the winning Scottish Rally car. and Trofeu British Rally Legends model of his "DNF" RAC car from that year. Chris won the Scottish, Lindisfarne, Burmah and Dukeries BRC rallies in 1971.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P3_zps8olfwrr7
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020715_zpsilerhfkd
1972 and 1973
Roger Clark came home from his international activities and running an Escort prepared by the official Ford factory team Clark won the national title in the next two years - these his 2nd and 3rd wins in the Championship, both times driving Escort RS1600's (now in 2.0l form).
The 1972 Dukeries car is from Trofeu’s British Rally Legends series (Roger also won the Seven Dales, Granite City, Welsh, Burmah, Manx, RAC and Hackle events in 1972), the 1973 Scottish Rally winning car is from IRM (Roger also won the Snowman, Seven Dales, Granite City, Welsh, Jim Clark, Hackle, Dukeries and Lindisfarne events in 1973) - what a couple of years! The championship suffered a blow at the end of 1973 when the fuel crisis engulfed the country right after the end of the final round of that season, the RAC Rally.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection Clark%201972%201973_zpshinbtf9c
The 1974 calendar was inevitably disturbed by the fuel crisis, the first two rallies were cancelled and the series started with the Easter time Circuit of Ireland with Irish drivers taking the top four places.  It was the year with the Irish driver Billy Coleman seriously challenging the BRC, finishing every event and scoring points on all nine events except for the Burmah Rally, when both he and Roger Clark both incurred road section penalties through timing errors.  Billy, from the far south of Ireland, became the first non British resident to take the title, the first of many.  In the end nine rounds counted for the series that year.  This disruption to the British sporting calendar opened an opportunity for a second special stage series, specialising in one-day events viable for private drivers, the Castrol Autosport series.  This was a real success and provided a form of feeder series for the major BRC series. As mid decade approached so there was increased participation by professional teams in the BRC.  Following Ford came the Dealer Opel Team with Tony Pond and then the Datsun importers ran a Violet for Chris Sclater while Chrysler entered an Avenger for Colin Malkin, British Leyland a Triumph Dolomite Sprint for Brian Culcheth and Vauxhall were starting to an interest.  
Extract from Stephen Mills’s account of the 1974 Championship winning year taken from Michael O'Carrolls Irish Motorsport Annual 96
Billy wanted me to stay to do the RAC Championship for the year, and in his words, "we could win".  What a challenge!
With such an invitation who would argue?  So with the combined efforts of Dan O'Sullivan, Evan Hughes (who had been Brian Cullen's mechanic, transporter driver, pit crew and confidante, all rolled into one from his Formula 2 days of 1970) and Billy, and myself we worked our way through a long list of championship events.  They covered Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England and we ended up as RAC Rally Champion 1974, before the final event of the series, the RAC Rally. A year that saw all kinds of antics and comments from many quarter, not to mention the opposition, which was everywhere.  
Coleman from Millstreet was one of the quickest drivers around and the shy man had the potential to become the best. In 1973 he bought his first ex-works Ford Escort from Chris Sclater, VVX 958L, which proceeded a ‘new’ ex-works Ford France MEV 36J with two litre alloy block BDA, which I took delivery of the day the Welsh Rally started in May 1974. I still have the receipt!  Evan Hughes and I collected the car from the Ford Competition Department at Boreham. It was on a trailer and we were to take it directly to the rally start at Cardiff.  As luck would have it the trailer burst a couple of tyres on the motorway to Cardiff and in order to get to the start before it was too late, I had to take the car off the trailer and drive it to the start. I can’t remember objecting, but I can remember the drive to Cardiff!!  Evan arrived later and, with a brand new car, which he had never seen prior to the start; Billy Coleman came away with a second place to Markku Alen in a works Escort.  That was the class of ‘the Kid’. The entire RAC championship was just that - a full season of events that required consistent application to the task on hand by all concerned.  The objective was to take the title out of England. Travelling through Wales, Scotland, the Isle of Man, Ireland and England honed the four of us into a unique nucleus.  We completed the task as required and competed in a number of other events beside. The car was constantly being re-built after each event, or at least as much as time permitted.  One thing that stands out in my memory from that year is the fact that I was the only one to put a mark on the car. I chipped the paint with the jack handle in Wales on the first event.  Apart from that there was not a scratch put on the car throughout the season. At the end of that year, after the final event the RAC Rally in November, and the coveted title in the bag for Billy and Dan, I got the first available plane out to Australia to get way from the weather. Evan Hughes decided to come out as well, and at the last minute his brother Gordon joined us for the flight.  We are still here!  
Stephen Mills
The models here are the Texaco Rally winning (1.8l) RS1600 VVX958L and the 2nd place Welsh Rally (2.0l) MEV36J car - the former is a parts work with homemade decals, the latter is a Trofeu base with homemade decals. (VVX958L was used on forestry events, MEV36J on tarmac according to the Colemans of Millstreet web site, although that sounds back to front)
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P2_zpsetbouvay
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020718_zpspyvoy1ro
In 1975 two young men arrived on the scene.  From Finland, and set to forge his career on the British stage was Ari Vatanen, and on occasion appeared a 17 year old man, who declared his wok to be a car breaker, called Malcolm Wilson. The tempo of the series was hotting up. Roger Clarks 4th BRC win was delivered in 1975, again using an Escort, but this time the newly released RS1800 (2.0l).
Again, a Trofeu British Rally Legends model of the winning Welsh Rally car from that year (Roger also won the Granite City, Scottish, Burmah, Manx and Lindisfarne events in 1975).
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020719_zps7jnvrx3i
Vatanen had lost no time in impressing the management personnel at Ford who arranged the support for him to tackle the British championship series in 1976, which he won, heading Russell Brookes and Roger Clark.  In 1976 there were fourteen rounds, Vatanen won five, Brookes three, Clark two, including the RAC Rally at the end of the season. The first of 2 BRC wins for the “Vat Man” (Ari Vatanen) and he went on to achieve WRC success is some style (World Champion! – how many of todays BRC can claim this?) – this is a Trofeu British Rally Legends model of his smashed up Burmah rally car (the other side of the car has a taped up front wing). Ari also won the Welsh, Jim Clark, Manx and Lindifarne events in 1976)
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020720_zps518z0myc
There is little doubt that the late ‘70s were a hallmark period in the BRC.  Vauxhall went to the extreme of developing a 2.4 litre version of the Chevette with the demands of the British championship specifically in mind, engaging Pentti Airikkala another, Finn as their lead driver.  British Leyland found rallying a natural opportunity to publicise their new TR7 sports car, while manufacturers like Fiat and Saab from all over Europe paid visits to the BRC.  The attraction was clear.  Secret route rallying was very attractive economically.  Only the Manx Trophy Rally traditionally allowed reconnaissance, while the forest road rallies did no harm as practice events for the world championship RAC Rally.  It was not just the impact created by the cars which the foreign teams brought with them, it was the chance for their drivers to acquire the talents required for secret rallying. The great Russel Brookes drove the iconic Heat for Hire sponsored cars for a number of years, but his first BRC win was in 1977. This is a modified and repainted Trofeu model with bought and homemade decals to reflect his COI winning car from 1977. Russell also won the Granite City, and Jim Clark events that year).
British Rally Championship Champions Collection IMG_5236%20002_zpsm7xotcoa
The original RAC British Rally Championship came to an end in 1977 and for 1978 the series was renamed the RACMSA British Open Rally Championship, in recognition of the newly established international flavour.  1978 saw the final throes of the Escort era when Hannu Mikkola won the title, Hannu's only BRC win, but like Vatanen he went on to greater success in the WRC.
For 1978 to 1984 I am going to cut and paste an excellent written summary by Martin Porter of BRC events from those years which I have sourced from this web site (http://hyppyrally.blogspot.co.uk/). If you like the write up, go on the web site as there are some good pictures from those years on the site.
Russell Brookes started the 1978 Mintex International Rally, the opening round of the inaugural Sedan Products Open Championship, as reigning British Champion. Then a young hotshot with a tendency to stuff his car into the scenery, he was the first driver in a generation to be able to match the pace of Roger Clark.

That he was immediately dicing for the lead with Finnish gravel experts Hannu Mikkola and Penti Airikkala shows how fast he really was, but his subsequent career shows the ghetto that British rallying was to get inself stuck in. In Brookes's first full season he had been dicing with Roger Clark, and in his last he was head-to-head with Colin McRae. But whilst Roger and Colin were to claim World Rally victories, Brookes rarely got a drive outside of the UK.

But back to 1978.

As well as Brookes, Clark, Mikkola and Airikkala there was the winner of the previous year's 1000 Lakes, Kyosti Hamalainen in an Escort, Jimmy McRae no longer in a Group 1 Magnum but a Group 4 Chevette, Tony Pond in a TR7 and Markku Alen in a Fiat 131 Abarth. Vauxhall had just had their Lotus designed cylinder head banned, so were down on power this year, whilst Leyland were in the process of shoe-horning a V8 into the TR7, meaning much more power.

Fiats were an unusual sight on British rallies. The previous year the Fiat-Ford battle for the WRC had gone to the wire and Fiat came within an ace of having to take on the Boreham team in their back yard to win. Knowing that the Escort beat the 131s hands down on blind forest stages they sent a car to the Open to get some much needed experience of British forests.

In the end Mikkola expired in the Yorkshire forests and Airikkala overcame the lack of grunt to beat Brookes into second, whilst old Roger Albert managed forth, just behind John Taylor's Haynes of Maidstone sponsored Escort.

The series next moved across the Irish sea for a blast from end-to-end of the Emerald Isle. The Circuit of Ireland was a unique challenge, a long, fast, bumpy and blind tarmac rally. Here the usual Escorts were joined by the Porsche Carreras that Irish privateers knocked together in their sheds whilst local hero Billy Coleman was in the exotic Chequered Flag Stratos.

Once Brookes had got himself sorted out he blew the opposition away, whilst second was Jimmy McRae, who had led for two days. This was not to be the last time these two disputed the top placing. Mikkola disappeared into a field whilst Alen took a podium on a surface the 131 liked, despite at one point getting stuck behind an Irish farmer using a supposedly closed road at night with no lights. Only in Ireland!

The series stayed on tarmac for the opening day of the Welsh, before leaving the Epynt ranges and returning to the forests.

Mikkola dominated whilst Alen looked set to go one better than in Ireland. But our man Clark, fortified no doubt by a few pre-rally pints, showed that he's a fast on day four as day one and overhauled the Finn.

The series stayed on the Celtic fringe for hot and dusty Scottish Rally. It was once again Mikkola in front, but this time it was a young Malcolm Wilson second for most of the event. Unfortunately the now Ford rally boss was a less laid back character then than he is now and he stuffed his Escort into the scenery. Second eventually went to Airikkala's Chevette ahead of Clark's Escort, who'd been off the road and who had fought his way back from sixth. Brookes had got himself stuck in a ditch and only finsihed because Andy Dawson stopped to tow him out.

1978 saw the first and last entry into the series for the other Scottish rally, the Argyll based Burmah International - which was anything but dry and dusty. The likable German Walter Rohrl was driving the Fiat this time, whilst Mikkola debutted the famous Eaton Yale sponsored Escort.

But before the event disappeared into oblivion it earned itself immortality as the only international rally to end in tie. Mikkola appeared to have given best to Brookes and started the last stage thirteen seconds behind the Englishman. But then the Andrews Heat For Hire car hit problems too and the event ended up being halved. Tie breaker rules gave the event to Mikkola for having been faster on the first stage. As modern rallies are timed to a hundredth of a second this record should stand forever.

Next it was back into a boat for the Manx International. Closed public roads and pace notes made this the fastest rally of the year, despite the rain, and with the archetypal seventies moustached man Tony Pond at the wheel, Leyland were finally able to unleash the full power of their V8 TR7. Mikkola managed to keep in front of the red beast until he punctured and crashed, but Pond eventually won by a country mile with part time rallycross man John Taylor second, an Irish Porsche third and Roger Albert Clark fourth. Brookes was excluded for illegal servicing.

All of which meant that Clark entered the last round ahead on points despite not having won a single round.

This was to be a perennial problem for the Open. With no 'best of' rule until 1983, consistency often beat pace.

The last round was our own World Rally, the RAC. With Ford officially on strike both Mikkola and Clark would be in private Escorts. This was enough though and Escorts swept the board, despite a valiant fight by Alen in a black and red Stratos.

Mikkola's Eaton Yale Escort comfortably beat Bjorn Waldegard's similar car. Clark's bid for title ended when he approached a gate with a box full of neutrals and flipped his Escort onto its roof.

It was sad to see the old master exit in such an undignified manner, but few could argue that Mikkola, with four wins to his name, was not the worthy winner of the first British Open.

So it was first blood to the Finns. Could the Brits raise their game and get the title back?
This is the winning RAC Rally car from 1978 – the RAC was a qualifying event for the BRC in 1978. This is a Trofeu model.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020722_zps4j84iqk4
One of my personal favourite drivers, Pentti Airikkala won his only BRC in 1979 – whilst he had more limited success in the WRC, only winning 1 event, the variety of cars he drove other the years highlights his all round skills.
Battle commenced on the 1979 British Open Rally Championship before the first car had even rolled off the chilly starting ramp in Yorkshire.

The 1978 season had been a success, and as a result ever event larger than a single venue wanted to be part of the action. The manufacturers on the other, who had other series to contend with as well, wanted just a handful of quality events. The compromise ended up as a seven event series, with the Ulster rally in and the Burmah out.

With hindsight it's perhaps hard to see what all the fuss was about - a handful of rallies, mostly in the cold and wet, with small entries and barely a car that could top 300bhp.

But for those of us who remember those days this was the real thing. Rallies that began in the early hours and continued into the night, the crews servicing in laybys, farmers fields or anywhere they could find. In Ulster they somehow crammed 250 stage miles into 24 hours.

Then there were the cars. Hairy chested Escorts and Chevettes, burbling TR7 V8s, the odd exotic Porsche or Saab. Tail out, even on tarmac, and most smelling vaguely of Castrol GTX.

Then there were the drivers. The year would see three future World Champions battling it out on our stages and whilst the home grown talent may not be as famous, they were more than able to hold their own.

The action started with the De Lacy Motor Club's bash around the Yorkshire forests, then going under the name of the Mintex International. What had changed though was the weather.

Snow was the order of the day and the De Lacy's had their work cut out to keep the show on the road. Stig Blomqvist had arrived in the whispering Saab 99 Turbo, fresh from giving the car a maiden victory in the Swedish Rally, although he was forced to leave his studs behind.

The front wheel drive probably helped, the turbo though probably didn't, but ultimately it was Swedish snow experience that gave him victory. How else could you explain a TR7 V8 coming second, other than that it was driven by Blomqvist's former Saab teammate Per Eklund?

The series then crossed what James Joyce used to call "the snot green" sea for the Circuit of Ireland. This time it wasn't an excess of snow that the competitors had to cope with, but a lack of petrol.

The Middle East was in turmoil thanks to Iranian Revolution, and the jungle juice was getting hard to find on the Emerald Isle. With a top flight TR7 doing about 4 mpg at full throttle this was a serious problem. The competitors were often diverted to remote spots in the middle of the night in the hope of finding supplies, and many crews dropped out when they didn't materialise.

One team that didn't have a problem though was Vauxhall. Dealer Team Vauxhall appeared to have finally got the Chevette HS to really fly, at least on tarmac, and Airikkala raced to an easy win, ably supported by McRae until mechanical failure put him out.

Russell Brookes entered one the tarmac special Escorts developed to win the Monte Carlo but crashed it. Eklunds Triumph also expired and so the runner up was Irishman Billy Coleman, who for once was in a conventional car, an Escort.

So far though the reigning champion had not made an appearance. For the Welsh though, Mikkola was back, and in the blue Eaton Yale Escort he swept through the rain to a clear victory.

Three rallies, three different winners, and despite only managing eighth in Wales, Blomqvist led the series.

For the Scottish there were two Eaton Yale Escorts, with Bjorn Waldegarde joining Mikkola. The two were taking a break from their battle to be the first every World Rally Champion, and they soon set the pace, with the Finn heading the Swede.

Both were to leave the road though, which gave the lead to a young Finn called Henri Toivonen in an Escort. Electric problems eventually slowed him down, but we'd be seeing a lot mor eof him in years to come.

This gave the lead to an Englishman; Tony Pond in the new Talbot Sunbeam Lotus. Essentially an old Chrysler Avenger with a hatchback, the addition of a Lotus engineered 2.4 litre four pot turned it into a hot hatch. It was not a happy team, and the Sunbeam expired before the end, but clearly the car had potential.

The beneficiary of all this carnage was Airikkala who took the win and the series lead.

Pond managed to lead again on the Manx, only for the gremlins to again get the car. Mikkola also expired - on the very first stage, and Airikkala was out too.

This left the event as a duel between Russell Brookes and Jimmy McRae, the first of many to come over the next decade. This time though the Englishman's Escort proved to have the legs on the Scot's Chevette.

The Ulster Rally was a high speed blast around the top of Ireland. Mikkola was unable to make it to the event and the result was a Vauxhall one-two. Brookes was again in a shorter, wider tarmac Escort and again found that, whilst it was untouchable on the smooth, flowing tarmac of France, on narrow and bumpy Irish roads it kept trying to tip him into a hedge and eventually succeeded.

Blomqvist peddled the heavy Saab really hard to make third, but only an extremely unlikely Saab win on the RAC could now prevent Airikkala lifting the trophy.

Mikkola once again showed he was the master of British gravel, with Brookes coming a creditable second. Blomqvist staggered round the stages until he eventually hit one tree too many whilst Airikkala nursed a car that looked on the verge of retirement from stage one through to seventh.

The Swede's exit gave him the championship and with three wins to his name he deserved it. So once again the Brits had been beaten by a Finn had won again, but this time one who lived in Berkshire and to be honest, the fans didn't mind at all.

Could the home team do any better next year?
This is a PJ Rallymodels model of his 1979 COI winning car.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020723_zpsuqitjrse

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British Rally Championship Champions Collection Empty Re: British Rally Championship Champions Collection

Post  reeft1 on Sun Mar 20, 2016 3:10 pm

So it's out with the seventies and with it went the most important team in British rallying.

Airikkala may have won the championship in a Chevette, but Ford had taken the manufacturers title. what's more Fords had provided the mount for every previous British rally champion since Will Sparrow won it in a Mini Cooper in 1970.

However the end of the decade also marked the end of the Mk II Escort and so Boreham had to go off and develop something else to rally. what that something else turned out to be is another story, but in the meantime their drivers had to find somewhere else to go.

Russell Brookes and Henri Toivonen went to Talbot, Roger Clark went to drive a TR7 V8 where he was joined by Talbot's development driver Tony Pond.
Meanwhile Hannu Mikkola and Ari Vatanen stayed in Escorts but moved to David Sutton's private team, where the former kept him Eaton Yale colours but the latter adopted the swanky new Rothmans look.

Absent from the scene unfortunately was reigning champion Airikkala, who was off to tackle the European Championship for Vauxhall, although the money ran out pretty quickly and he never really had a look in. This promoted Jimmy McRae to Vauxhall numero uno. The other change at Vauxhall was that the Chevette HS became the HSR, growing wings and getting back some of the tweaks that Bill Blydenstein had wanted on the HS but that Vauxhall had forgotten to homologate.

A new team joining the top table was Opel, with their Ascona 400. A big car with squared off arches it resembled the Fiat 131 Abarth, which had never gone well in Britain, so people had their doubts.

Also moving up were Toyota, who had re-homologated the Celica back into Group 4 and given one to Austrailian Alan Carter.

But if Toyota were moving forward, Saab appeared to be going backwards. In 1979 the 99 Turbo had been a rally winner and championship contender. In 1980 though they struggled to finish a rally.

This then was the grid. Seven teams chasing the trophy, a record entry of top level teams. The manufacturers had also won their battle with the organisers and the series was down to a more reasonable five events; three on blind gravel, one on blind tarmac and one on pace noted tarmac.

The series started in Newcastle with the Mintex. Swedish Rally winner and World Championship leader Ander Kullang put the Ascona into the lead on the first stage, but on the second the crank let go on his newly built engine.

The first day was mainly a run around the Otterburn ranges and the surprise leader on these tarmac stages was Willie Rutherford. The stages had been used for a National rally a few days before hand and this clearly benefited the private Escort driver.

Once the rally reached the real forests though it was clear who was boss. In stage after stage it was Mikkola from Vatanen, and the blue Escort eventually came home the winner by over a minute. Neither Talbot finished and McRae came third.

Mikkola though was committed to driving a Mercedes in the Safari so didn't join the rest of the field for the start of the Circuit of Ireland in Belfast. Billy Coleman took an early lead in an Eaton Yale Escort with McRae and Vatanen close behind. McRae was literally flying. Into the lead and then over a hedge and into a field.

The Scot was incredibly lucky. The car was virtually undamaged and because most of the leading crews cleaned the stage he only lost one minute. By the second day's halt he was 32 seconds behind Vatanen, who was leading as Coleman's engine had gone bang.

The last night and day of the morning was probably some of the fastest rallying Ireland had ever seen. Both men drove their hearts out, with the Finn holding a slender lead. At one point McRae closed to within 10 seconds, only for Vatanen to pull 7 seconds back on the next stage.

Then, two stages from the end, Vatanen lost control of his Escort at 100mph and rolled. Like McRae, he was lucky, but he lost a minute and damaged the suspension. he threw in the towel and allowed McRae to take his first Open victory.

Battle resumed on the next round with an uncharacteristically dry and dusty Welsh. Mikkola was back, but they'd fitted a racing engine to his car and Hannu found that only by "revving it to bloody hell" could he make the thing go. Vatanen, who'd just become a dad, took an early lead but Mikkola soon overhauled him. They were both leaving McRae in their dust, and the Scot's car eventually refused to start after a service and the championship leader was out.

Eating Mikkola's dust that he was, Vatanen was not giving up. The two were swapping fastest times, but the Rothman's car was slowly gaining on the Eaton Yale one. Just before half way he was back in front. Mikkola chased hard, but picked up a puncture on Epynt.

Then, four stages from the end, Vatanen hit trouble. A timing belt slipped, a valve dropped and an idler pulley jammed. No spares were carried so this looked fatal. Fortunately the mechanics kept their heads. The engine was allowed to cool which freed up the pulley. Vatanen limped through two stages whilst his mechanics found a retired Escort on a trailer and nicked its idler pulley. A relieved Vatanen then returned to Cardiff to claim his win.

There was more dust on the Scottish, and once again it was the Mikkola and Vatanen show.

This time, with a more manageable engine, Mikkola had the edge and led from stage one. Behind the two David Sutton cars Anders Kullang was holding off variety of challengers. Malcolm Wilson looked set to take the last podium place off him, but went off and hit a bridge. It was a bad accident and he broke both ankles, but for a while it was feared his injuries were much worse.

Pond then had a crack with the big TR7, getting the beast up to 135mph at times. However throttle cable problems kept turning his V8 into a straight four and he had to settle for fourth, three places ahead of McRae who'd had a terrible rally.

And so it all came down to the Manx - or rather it didn't. Mikkola was in New Zealand trying to tackle a blind gravel rally in a big Mercedes, and once he failed to show Vatanen was gifted the championship.

The rally though was great.

Blisteringly fast, with cars 'cleaning' some sections and flat out in fifth for some sections - that's 140mph for a TR7 - it turned into a three way duel between Pond, Vatanen and McRae. Vatanen initially had an off song engine and Pond went into a comfortable lead. A puncture then put McRae ahead, but a broken rotor arm then dropped the Scot to third and gave victory to the red Triumph and its Manx based driver. Andy Dawson drove the Chequered Flag Stratos to fifth - a magnificent car but now apparently from a different era.

Vatanen was a popular champion. Four second places and a win was a fine record and British fans once again had a hero who drank nothing stronger than milk and usually wore sleeveless pullovers.

With a victory on the Acropolis as well it had been a triumphant year for David Sutton, but shortly after Vatanen raised the trophy his world fell apart. He turned out to have lost £100,000 during the year, his two main sponsors pulled out and his leading driver left to move to Audi.

With Roger Clark bowing out after a disappointing season, Triumph going too and Sedan handing over the championship sponsorship it was the passing of an era.

Next year it would be the Rothmans British Open, a slicker operation all together. But what would that mean on the stages?

This is a Trofeu base model modified with Rallymodels.co.uk decals to reflect the Welsh Rally winning car.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1030041_zpsugwinrou

1981 and Sedan Products bow out as the event sponsors, handing over to the glitzy Rothmans outfit. Nobody at the time was too bothered about the ethics of taking cash from a company selling addictive drugs that cause cancer - well, it was Thatcher's Britain - but they were worried about overkill as Rothmans now sponsored the series, one of the rounds and one of the leading teams.

This was also the last year in which everyone - except the army guys in their Land Rovers who tagged onto the end of the Welsh rally - was in two wheel drive cars. Abroad the new Audi was setting the stages alight, but back home Ford, Opel, Toyota, Talbot and Vauxhall battled it out in one last glorious year of high revving, multi-valve engines and tail-out opposite lock before the whispering Quattro spoilt the fun of forest rallying.

Escort development had come to an end two years ago, but the others were still trying to make a 'better Escort'. Opel and Vauxhall could make some claim to have managed to build one. The GM teams had amalgamated and their both their very different cars seemed more stable in fast corners than the old Ford.  

With reigning champion Vatanen largely absent as he pursued glory on the world stage, the drivers were mostly UK based, except for Per Eklund in the Toyota Celica. Airikkala was back, driving a Rothmans Escort for David Sutton. Jimmy McRae had left Dealer Team Vauxhall to drive the new Ascona 400 for Opel and in his place was Tony Pond. Brookes was still in the Sunbeam Lotus, still down on power and still waiting for the promised International drives.  

The opening round was the Mintexagain and just like last year there was ice and snow and just like last year it was a Rothmans Escort out in front, although this time it was Airikkala. Last time we'd seen him in a Ford he'd been leading the 1976 RAC rally, and he carried on where he left off.

The initial blast through the Otterburn army ranges saw Tony Pond fit slick tires only to find ice instead of  tarmac. He left the road and went OTL. Everyone else lost time due to the ice and all but one of the stages ended up being cancelled, but Pond was still out. McRae then chased Airikkala's Escort as hard as he could, but the Finn easily held off the Scott for victory.

The Circuit of Ireland was next and Pond was once again on slicks but this time finding grip. He flew into the lead and was leaving the field behind when the Vauxhall drive system let go. He handed in his time card, but then the stage was cancelled. It wasn't turning out to be Pond's lucky year.

McRae inherited the lead, chased by Brookes. However a tightening right hander caught out the Englishman and he thumped a bank. Ever the pro, he made sure it was the co-driver's door which was stoved in and Mike Broad who received the bruised arm. They kept going, but too far back to challenge for victory and McRae took the laurels.

For the Welsh Rally the big news was that Vatanen was back, and soon leading, chased by Pond. He punctured and dropped behind Pond and Brookes, then Pond disappeared up a fire break whilst flat in fifth and lost enough time to give Brookes the lead, a very unfamiliar position for the Andrews Heat for Hire Sunbeam.

It didn't last though, and when an oil pipe let go Vatanen got the lead back again. McRae pulled back time on the Epynt tarmac and he just nosed ahead of the Finn before it was his turn for a puncture. Vatanen then took the lead for the third and final time whilst Pond put on late spurt and also passed McRae to take second whilst Airikkala was fourth.

In the Scottish Rally Pond was again quickest off the mark, leading Airikkala through the forests, the rest of the field in hot pursuit. Both Rothmans Escorts went off on the same stage and the Brookes' Sunbeam was sick for most of the rally, but on home soil McRae gave the Chevette a run for its money. Pond has his measure though and came home a minute clear of the Ascona. Airikkala was fourth behind team mate Malcolm Wilson. The Escort pair had extracted their cars from the trees but Penti's was handling like a dog for the rest of the rally.

McRae then entered the last round with a comfortable lead in the championship. Only Airikkala could beat him, and only by winning outright.

This was the Manx, now well on the way to becoming a true International rally thanks to Rothman's cash. Star entry, and early leader of the Manx, was reigning World Champion Walter Rohrl, driving a private Porsche since Mercedes had cancelled their rally program. A grinning  Rohrl admitted to driving "too quickly" and getting the Porsche up to135mph and frequently airborne, but he still could not shake off McRae and Pond. Airikkala crashed out, leaving the Scotsman with a smug grin. The championship was his, but he wanted the rally as well.

Pond had survived a 100mph spin and when night fell he and McRae found they had the edge over the German in the dark and both Pond and McRae overtook him. Rohrl fought back once the sun rose again but couldn't catch the Brits. The Scott told the cameras he was driving for European Championship points, but Pond didn't believe him, and the stage times suggested otherwise as well. However the Englishman held on and won. Rohrl suffered a broken drive shalf on the last stage, so Wilson came third, but his Escort had been totally outclassed by the GM boys.

Pond had been the fastest man in the series and it seemed unfair that he was not to be champion this or any other year.  A great driver, especially on tarmac, and a ready wit, he was signed up by Datsun and then Rover for International events, but was never given a competitive car. He eventually left rallying to concentrate on circuit racing and cameo appearances, like doing a 100mph lap of the TT motorcycle circuit in a Rover 700 Vitesse.

He died, far too soon, in 2002.

Instead it was McRae, who finished on the podium in every event, who took the title off Ari Vatanen, which must have made his thirteen year old son Colin very proud. Ari, now Private Vatanen of the Finnish Army, can't have minded either as two months later he became World Champion on the RAC Rally.

But Vatanen didn't win the RAC, he only came second. The winner was Hannu Mikkola in the first British appearance of the Audi Quattro. British rallying was never to be the same again.

Fire up the Quattro, it's time for action.

1981 had been fun, but it had all been a bit insular and provincial. True, the World Champion that was (Walter Rohrl) and the World Champion to be (Ari Vatanen) had both popped by, and there were a couple of Belgians on the Manx, but all the drivers battling for the series had been British resident even if, like Pentti Airikkala, they weren't British born.
However for 1982 that all changed. The world and his wife came to battle it out on the Open. The last round of the series, the Manx, featured seven A Priority Drivers, that is, drivers who have won a World Rally or the European rally Championship in the last three years or finished in the top three of a WRC round, or the top five of the ECR, in the last twelve months. Jimmy McRae was British but the other six, Ari Vatanen, Hannu Mikkola, Guy Frequelin, Henri Toivonen, Stig Blomqvist and Per Eklund, weren't. One was the World Champion, two of the other were future champions and another was die whilst the fastest rally driver in the world. It was a stellar cast.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves. The series started, as usual, in a chilly Yorkshire with the Mintex and leading the field away from York was Mikkola in the Beast from Stuttgart, run by our own David Sutton. Vorsprung durch Masses-of-Grunt-Grip, the Quattro was like something from a different planet in 1982. In these days of bang-bang devices and clever differentials it's hard to explain just how dull four wheel drive and turbo charging was when it first arrived on the rally scene. The Quattro was quiet and it braked and cornered in a straight line.  Unless you saw the speed at which it could accelerate out of a slow corner, it did not look like a rally winner.
Looking more like the real thing was reigning champion Jimmy McRae, still in an Opel Ascona 400 but now part of the Rothmans team, along with 1980 RAC winner Henri Toivonen. Russell Brookes was still sponsored by Andrews Heat for Hire, but had ditched the unlucky Sunbeam Lotus for a Chevette HSR. Vatanen was in a black MCD Escort and Per Eklund was getting ready to have another go at making the Toyota Celica competitive. The man left standing when the music stopped was 1979 Open Champion Pentti Airikkala. With no works drive, he bought himself an Escort to compete.

On the opening round though, it was the Quattro that was the car to have, and Mikkola lead from the off and started taking ten seconds a stage off everyone else. Behind him the others were struggling for grip. The Finns though seemed to be having the better of it. Vatanen and Airikkala battled it out through Yorkshire, with Pentti getting his private Escort ahead of the David Sutton machine only for steering failure to end an inspired drive. Toivonen took over the chase and closed the gap Vatanen's engine went off song in Dalby forest.  Seconds separated the Finns as they went into the final sprint around Oliver's Mount, but on the Scarborough tarmac Toivonen's Opel was quicker and he snatched second place.

Leader of the home drivers for most of the rally is National Champion Terry Kaby. McRae has a slow start but gradually rose up the field to finish fourth. It had been a poor showing for the home team though and the Scandinavians had totally outclassed them.

Fortunately the next round was rather better suited to home grown talent and two wheel drive machinery. The Circuit of Ireland was five days of blind tarmac rallying round Ireland. There is nothing like it today. The Rothmans Asconas shot into the lead, but Mikkola was floundering in the big Audi. They weren't totally invincible it seemed.

McRae led, then Toivonen, then McRae again. Then Toivonen left the road and climbed a bank. Damage to the car was minimal but he's broken a bone in his wrist.Carrying on would be painful, but carry on he did. Vatanen then took up the chase, the World Champion pedalling the Escort as hard as he could, but not making much progress against McRae. Mikkola's Quattro was snapping driveshafts and David Sutton was reduced to pouring Coca Cola and then flour into the gearbox to prevent clutch slip. Brookes had been delayed early on by electrical problems but was now charging up the field.

Vatanen looked like he might just steal a win until he took a yump too fast and damaged the Escort, dropping him right down. Brookes had fought his way up to second, but a brave Toivonen held on for third but Mikkola was down in sixth, behind a pair of Irishmen. It was Jimmy McRae though who won, making it a hat trick of Irish wins for him.

For the Welsh though Mikkola was absent as Audi had sent him to the Tour de Corse, a decision they probably regretted as Mikkola steering failure retired the car before the first stage. The real world threatened to interrupt the rally, as it was feared that the army would want the Epynt ranges, which made up half of the rally, to train for the Falklands War.

In the end the rally went ahead without trouble, Walter Rohrl had said an "educated monkey" could win in a Quattro, but in the end Audi chose a different sort of primate for the event, the 1979 World Champion and 1977 RAC Rally winner Bjorn Waldegard. He vaguely remembered Epynt from an RAC a few years back, and was soon proving that Quattros could go well on tarmac. The Swede, who in his time had rallied everything from a Lancia Stratos to a Mercedes 450SLC, led from the off and took a comfortable victory.

Behind him there was chaos. Vatanen took a wrong turn on Epynt and was excluded whilst on the last blast through the tarmac McRae tool a "95mph corner at 100" and totalled the Ascona. Team mate Toivonen took second and the series lead whilst Stig Blomqvist, in a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus, was third.

It was back to the forests again for theScottish Rally, and with Mikkola returning another Audi walkover was expected. But that wasn't what happened.

Instead the Quattro broke its steering arm - again - on the first corner of the first stage. Mikkola managed to get the car off the stage in reverse, but he'd lost nearly eight minutes and was dead last. Vatanen was leading, chased by Blomqvist and the two Rothmans Asconas, but Mikkola was after them. The Quattro overtook Malcolm Wilson to lie fifth by half time at Aviemore.

As they raced through the northern forests Vatanen retired with a broken driveshaft handing the lead to Blomqvist, who then retires with head gasket failure. Mikkola overhauled Russell Brookes, then Toivonen and then finally leader McRae. Mikkola won in the end by a massive ten minutes, but he'd done it the hard way.

So it was all to play for on the Manx, three days of pace noted tarmac stages with an A lost cast. McRae needed to win the rally to retain his Open title, with Toivonen, Mikkola and Brookes all in with a chance if he didn't.

On the first day though, it is the Finns Vatanen and Toivonen who were dicing for the lead whilst Terry Kaby led the home challenge. Mikkola was again struggling and didn't make the finish, and both Talbots expired with engine trouble on the same stage.
Toivonen lost the lead when he punctured, but regained it when Vatanen crashed after a yump. Toivonen then has electrical problems, allowing McRae into the lead. With the car fixed he took off in pursuit of his team mate, only to crash out of the rally. This left McRae with a comfortable lead over Brookes, which he held to the end.

So it was the part time heating and plumbing engineer from Lanarkshire who was champion. The best drivers in the world had come to the British Isles to try to take the title off him, but had failed. The Scot had had a good year, also winning rallies in Belgium and Ireland and coming second in the European Rally Championship.

But whilst a Brit may have won the Drivers award, every round had been won by a German car, With a series that featured two tarmac, two mostly gravel and one 50/50 rally, the battle between two wheel drive and four wheel drive had been fascinating. Had Mikkola skipped Corsica and gone to Wales he may have won both the rally and the championship, but that wouldn't have stopped Opel taking the manufacturers prize. The Ascona 400 had shown it was the perfect car for the series; a reliable all rounder. The Quattro had proved unbeatable on gravel, but too complicated and unreliable for a series where every score counts.

Audi would be back though, and next time the British boys wouldn't find it so easy.
The 1981 and 1982 championship winning Opel Asconas are modified Vitesses models with homemade decals from the Circuit of Ireland rally.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020725_zpstbm9vp0f
British fans had two questions at the start of the 1983 British Open: could anything beat a Quattro in the forests, and could anyone take the title from McRae? The answer to one of these questions was yes and the other no.

There were a few changes to the field for '83.

Mikkola was absent, off to become World Champion. Instead the Quattros were to be driven by Swede Stig Blomqvist and Finn Lasse Lampi. The Stig was a rallying exile. Sweden had got so fed up of Quattros winning all their snow and gravel rallies they'd banned them, so he he'd come over here instead. The clever men in Stuttgart had also been fettling their machines, and the Quattro was no longer such a dog on tarmac.
Opel had been busy too, although problems had delayed the homologation of the Manta 400 and they'd have to start the season with the old Ascona. The new car, when it arrived, promised more power - but less driveability - and a better weight distribution thanks to an engine pushed as far back in the bonnet as it would go.

Vauxhall though were still where they were three years ago, and still using thirteen inch wheels, but at least the old Chevette HSR was reliable.

Once again it was two wheel drive versus four wheel drive. The Ulster had been added to the series, to make six rounds and the extra tarmac would help the two wheel drive cars, but a 'best five' rule would allow the temperamental Quattro a free breakdown, which could even things up.

That was about it for the top line entries, but Group A was now an interesting class. Per Eklund was now in a Group A Corolla 1600GT , and the rear wheel drive car would face opposition from Fords Escort RS1600i driven by Malcolm Wilson and Louise Aitkin. Harold Demuth's Audi 80 Quattro would eventually be homologated into Group A too, but had to start the year as a Group B car. Privateer Chris Lord in the Mazda RX7 would also be contesting this Group.
The opening round was once again theMintex. It started on the Otterburn tarmac and for two stages Russell Brookes's Chevette was the leader in the fog. However once the rally hit the fast Yorkshire forests Blomqvist took the lead in the Quattro. The weather perplexed the organisers, but when the chaos was sorted out Blomqvist won comfortably from Jimmy McRae's Opel, and Eklund was a surprise third ahead of Brookes and Demuth's 80 Quattro.

A Quattro winning on gravel though was not news, however a Quattro leading on tarmac was, and that's what happened on the next round, the Circuit of Ireland. In fact Blomqvist wasn't just leading, he was walking away with the event. Nearest rival was Pentti Airikkala, who was driving by far the most interesting car to appear in the series, at least in my opinion, the Lancia 037 Rally. British fans had seen the car in the previous year's RAC - or at least most of them had, I'd been in bed with a bad cold - but this was its first appearance in Ireland.

The Easter traffic was as bad as ever, and when Blomqvists gearbox broke his service crew were stuck in it and he had to retire. This gave Airikkala the lead in the Italian supercar, but he was finding the mid-engined car tricky to handle. His first encounter with the scenery dropped him him to third, but his second put him out.
The man who inherited the lead was Russell Brookes. Three times winner McRae had had a troubled run, but he still had to hold off Irishman Bertie Fisher in another Ascona before he could claim the win. The Scot's hold on the rally had been broken and it was starting to look like it might be Russell's year.

In Group A Eklund and Wilson retired and Chris Lord managed to hold off Louise Aitkin to claim the win.

The Welsh was next, and finally Opel had the Manta 400. in due course this would become one of the best rear wheel drive rally cars ever, but on debut it understeered terribly and McRae struggled, eventually only managing sixth. This left Brookes to take on the Audis. he beat Lampi, but Blomqvist had disappeared into the distance and won by nearly eight minutes.

In Group A Eklund and Wilson battled it out, with the Toyota a comfortable winner.

The action then moved north of the border for theScottish which, rather than being hot and dusty, was cold and wet in '83. Blomqvist cruised to an easy win, but behind him Brookes and McRae tussled for the runner up spot. The Manta was starting to work properly now and in the end it all came down to punctures. The Chevette and the Manta both punctured on stage 28. Brookes had to stop and change the wheel whilst the Opel was able to struggle to the end of the stage, which gave the Scot second.

Eklund, meanwhile, won Group A by twenty minutes as the opposition fell apart.

It was back to the black stuff again for theUlster Rally, but any hope that this would allow the two wheel drive cars to head Blomqvist were soon dashed. The Swede was again unbeatable. McRae had a troubled rally with the Manta. At one point the heater caught fire, and on another stage he had to stop to let petrol fumes out of the car. He must have wished for his old Ascona back.

Brookes's Chevette was running fine though, although the driver had 'flu. He spun on stage 5 but only lost thirty seconds, and was hanging on in third, unable to match the pace of Irishman Bertie Fisher in his Manta. Blomqvist had transmission problems, which briefly put Fisher in the lead. Brookes's co-driver Mike Broad put in a complaint that Audi had serviced the car illegally, but it was rejected. Instead Blomqvist soon regained the lost time won the rally by over a minute.

This left Blomqvist on 60 points to 53 for Brookes. Due to the 'best five' rule, to be champion, Brookes had to win the last round outright and Blomqvist not score at all. So it was all to play for on the Rothmans Manx.

As Rothmans also sponsored the series and the Opel team, they sent along a brigade strength squad for the event, consisting of Ari Vatanen, Henri Toivonen and Jimmy McRae. These three were soon leading, with the young Finn just ahead of his older countryman. Brookes was fourth until a puncture on day two cost him two and a half minutes, and dropped him to seventh, just behind Blomqvist.

McRae ended an unhappy year when the Manta's axle gave out, elevating everyone a place. The Audi engineers then turned the Quattro's boost up to eleven and Blomqvist started moving up the field with Brookes right behind. The Quattro was third behind the Opel pair, when it started stage 44 out of 49. Brookes was following and could see the Audi across Druidale when "Suddenly there was a mushroom cloud of oil smoke - it was like an atomic explosion." With a piston sticking out of the side of the engine block Blomqvists championship was over.

There was now the possibility of GM giving the Opels team orders to let the Chevette past. Brookes had asked before the rally what would happen in this situation, but he denied actually asking for the Mantas to be slowed. "I would not have wanted to win the rally that way," he said in 1983, although he'd clearly changed his view by 1989......

Eklund won Group A from Lord's RX7. He'd wrapped up  the championship in Ulster but his seventh overall put him fourth in the overall championsip. This was a nice result for the Swede after two years of driving unreliable and slow Celicas.

Russell Brookes though was disappointed to be runner up. He had scored in every round and said "I have driven harder, faster and better in 1983 than I have ever driven before." He had beaten McRea for the first time since the Scot had moved up to driving top level cars. After two disastrous years with Talbot and a troubled debut with Vauxhall, he was now back at the front of the field and would challenge for the title in every year for the rest of the decade.

But for Vauxhall Chevette this was the end, at least as a Works car. Conceived, rather optimistically, to win the 1976 RAC Rally, the Chevette had indeed been a 'better Escort' but had now run out of development. Airikkala had driven one to win the 1979 Open, but every other year had been a disappointment. We fans, though, loved the tail-out Chevette and its disappearance from rallying was another nail in the coffin of the ailing British car industry.

So it was a Swede who was British Open Champion. Not that we minded too much. We knew Stig, you see, and had been following his exploits since he'd won a particularly snowy RAC Rally in 1972. Besides, Stig could make the Quattro dance, he was the only one who could. Years of chucking overweight Saabs around the forests and rallycross tracks had given him car control second to none and for the first time we could see an Audi sideways.

He was far and away the quickest Quattro driver of them all, and Audi were starting to realise this as well. Two months after his engine blew in the Isle of Man he won the RAC Rally, and for the next year Audi gave him a shot at the world title. He took the opportunity and ran with it, and became the 1984 World Rally Champion. Like Vatanen three years before, the Open had been the springboard to the top of the tree.

This just showed what an important series the British Open was.

This is a modified Trofeu base with homemade decals.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection IMG_5231%20002_zpshzhiw87a
Blomqvist had beaten the Brits handsomely in 1983, but for 1984 he was away on a campaign that would see him become World Champion in the Ivory Coast in October.

Instead, Audi sent the reigning World Champion, Hannu Mikkola, to contest the series. Also in a Quattro was Malcolm Wilson.

Wilson had been developing a new car for Ford, a rear wheel drive turbo charged Group B car using an Escort Mark Three bodyshell. Ford though had realised that you couldn't win now without drive to all the wheels and had abandoned the project and gone back to the drawing board.

This left Wilson without a team, so he bought Stig Blomqvist's 1983 series winning machine and formed his own, learning the skills that he would use fifteen years later to run the official Ford team.

Up against Audi was the works Opel team of Jimmy McRae and Russell Brookes, using the two wheel drive Manta.

With the demise of Vauxhall that, unfortunately, was that in terms of  Works teams. Quality not quantity. Group A was also looking fairly quiet, with Per Eklund in the Toyota Corolla the only factory driver starting the series.
The series started, as usual, in a chilly Yorkshire with the event formerly known as the Mintex, but now called the National Breakdown. On the icy stages Mikkola's Quattro walked the event, but behind him in the fog McRae, Brookes and Wilson had a good tussle. McRae caught a glove in his harness on the first stage and spun, punctured in Wykham and needed an axle change, but still managed to finish ahead of Brookes. Wilson couldn't keep up with the Mantas on his Quattro debut and retired whilst lying fourth.
Group A meanwhile was not the expected walkover for Toyota. Eklund's Corolla was headed for most of the rally by Mikail Sundstrom's Sunbeam Ti. The Talbot left the road once and broke three gearboxes, the last one failing mid-stage and stranding the Finn.

However the event was overshadowed by the death of Escort driver Hafsteinn Hauksson in Dalby. Treeless Iceland's leading rally driver, he had had to overcome a phobia of driving in forests to compete in Britain, so his death was both tragic and ironic.
The rally circus next grouped at Easter for the traditional blast around the Emerald Isle, the Circuit of Ireland. Mikkola and Eklund were tacking the Safari, so German Harold Demuth took over for Audi and Juha Kankkunen - another future World Champion - sat in for Eklund. Up against the Toyota was the new Rover 3500 Group A car driven by veteran Mini and Imp man Colin Malkin. The Rover was far too big for the narrow lanes, but it offered oodles of tail out grunt and was an instant hit with the fans. The Irish petrolheads also got to gawp at Henri Toivonen in the Rothmans Porsche. The Finn was desperately unhappy in the team, but you couldn't tell from his pace.

The opening stages provided drama a plenty. Brookes suffered prop shaft failure on the first stage, McRae suffered brake problems and went into a field on stage two, Toivonen left the road on the third stage and Malkin retired on the fifth stage. The Rover had more power than the Group B Mantas and its back axle couldn't cope. By the end of the season the Rover engineers were reduced to a device to spray washing up liquid on the tires to reduce mechanical strain.

All this left McRae the surprise leader, but his car was only running on three cylinders and steaming like the Flying Scotsman and he was soon out. Demuth also suffered engine failure which left the local boys Billy Coleman and Austin McHale battling it out in their Mantas. McHale took the lead on the last day only fir his engine to go bang, leaving Coleman as the sole surviving works driver and winner by a country mile. Second was privateer Ernest Kidney and third Hot Rod World Champion Davy Evans in his first ever rally.
Normality was resumed on the Welsh. Brookes took the lead on the Epynt tarmac, but once the rally reached the forests Mikkola's Quattro took over. McRae's Manta was still causing him problems. It overheated, then wouldn't stay in gear. Trying to make up time he crashed and squashed the exhaust. He then did it again and injured his hand. He dropped to sixth but managed to climb back to fourth, behind Malcolm Wilson, helped in part by Anterio Laine's sick Quattro holding up the rest of the field.

It was the dust and midges of the Scottish next. Mikkola and the Quattro led from start to finish again, but behind him the three Brits battled it out. Wilson's Quattro was fastest, but he suffered suspension failure. Brookes then took over second, but he left the road for twelve minutes handing the runner up spot to McRae, who for once had a trouble free rally.

It was back across the Irish Sea for the Ulster Rally next. Mikkola was away in Argentina, so double World Champion Walter Rohrl drove the works Quattro, which appeared to have shrunk in the wash. This was the debut of the Audi Sport Quattro, and it blew the opposition into the weeds. Austin McHale had a major accident on the third stage, so second place ended up being contested between Brookes, McRae and Irishman Bertie Fisher.

An spot of Irish rain put Fisher off the road, and so it was Brookes and McRae scrapping for second place. Seconds separated the two Manta, but in the end McRae overshot a junction and had to concede the position to the Englishman. Just fourteen seconds separated the two Opels in the end.
The crews went into the Manx then with Mikkola on 45 points, Brookes on 44 and McRae on 42. It was all to play for.

Rothmans had intended to send Toivonen in one of their Porsches to contend the event they sponsored, but he had injured his back in the 1000 Lakes and so Kankkunen once more made an appearance in the series.  Eklund, who had walked the last three rounds in Group A now again faced opposition from the Rover Vitesse, this time driven by Tony Pond.

Brookes took an early lead and after stage four was looking reasonably comfortable. The Porsche's engine had failed and Mikkola's gearbox had jammed, leaving only McRae to beat. The Andrews Heat for Hire Manta then punctured on the next stage costing Brookes three minutes. McRae took the lead and decided attack was the best means of defence. The Scot set a series of fastest times. Brookes put his foot down to reel in the lost time, but overcooked it at the Tholt-y-will bridge and crashed out of the event.

McRae led Bertie Fisher home by more than ten minutes to take both the rally and his third championship. Third place was Tony Pond in the wheel spinning, tail out Rover.

Brookes was once again the bridesmaid, but he'd enjoyed his first year with the Opel Manta. Next year he'd be back.
This is a Schucho model of the Manx Rally winning Opel Manta.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020727_zpsxjyuw0ty

Russell Brookes 2nd BRC, again in a Heat for Hire sponsored car, this time however it was an Opel Manta. The season started with the National Breakdown rally, which Englishman Malcolm Wilson and co-driver Nigel Harris won, ahead of Russell Brookes and Terry Kaby. Another victory here for the Audi Quattro A1. Onto the Circuit of Ireland where Jimmy McRae and his co-driver Ian Grindrod won easily in the Opel Manta 400, the car which took him to his third championship in 1984, and which swept the podium, proving its success in Ulster. Two consecutive podiums allowed Brookes to take the championship lead on 24 points. In Wales, at the Shell International Welsh Rally, Wilson got his second win of the year, and retook the lead because of Brookes' retirement from the rally. France's flying female and second place finisher Michèle Mouton got her first ever podium (and ultimately, only finish) in the championship, and McRae's third ensured he stayed in the title fight. At the Lloyds Bowmaker Scottish Rally, Brookes made up for his rally-ending accident last time out by finishing third behind Wilson, who won for the third time this year, and McRae. Two more rallies to go and when recently watching a video of the 1985 Ulster Rally I became aware that the Vauxhall/Opel boys had recognised the need to help Russell in his quest for the BRC title. They therefore built a special Opel Manta which was 40kg's lighter than the standard car - Brookes found his winning form at the British Midland Ulster Rally and defeated McRae and Finland's Mikael Sundström. Going into the traditional season finale at the Tudor Webasto Manx International Rally, Brookes and McRae were tied for the championship lead on 49 points, meaning that whoever finished better of the two would also take the title of British Open Rally Champion whilst Wilson was still in contention for the title on 45 points. The tiebreaker was won by Brookes and therefore the title, his second British Rally Championship. Wilson's championship hopes were ended after the Cumbrian overturned his Audi Quattro on stage 22, crashing out of the rally lead. The co-driver's title went to Mike Broad who beat Ian Grindrod and Nigel Harris. This is the PJ Rallymodels version of the Manx winning lightweight car. and the 2nd place season opening National Breakdown car - the latter built with this assistance of Andy Howdle on a Vitesse base, with rubbish Spanish decals, some Vitesse decals and some homemade.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection IMG_4036%20002_zps9efupqtc
1986 was a year full of emotions, with reports of the tragedies from the world championship inevitably casting doubts how long the dramatic cars would be allowed to run in the British series.  It was a special year with Mark Lovell representing Ford in their RS200, David Llewellin and Jimmy McRae driving Metro 6R4s, Hannu Mikkola in a Sport Quattro, and Michael Sundstom driving a Peugeot 205T16, all vying against the established Manta 400 driver Brookes.  Lovell and Brookes were the most consistent drivers of the series, with Lovell pulling into an unassailable lead over the final 3 rounds. I don't believe Mark won any events in 1986, but his sequence of 5th (National Breakdown), 4th (Circuit of Ireland), 3rd (Welsh), 2nd (Scottish), 2nd (Ulster) and 3rd (Manx) was enough to secure the title. The FISA (the world motorsport’s governing body) meanwhile ordered that no stages could be won at more than 110kph, meaning that many of the stages on the Ulster and the Manx Rallies were achievable with specific target times, even after organisers inserted artificial chicanes. Mark Lovell (27 March 1960 – 12 July 2003) won the 1986 British Rally Championship in a Ford RS200 Group B, the 1987 and 1988 Irish Tarmac Rally Championship, the 1988 International Dutch Rally Drivers' Championship and the 2001 SCCA ProRally Drivers' Championship in the United States. He also won the 2003 Pikes Peak International Hillclimb only two weeks before his death. Mark and his co-driver Roger Freeman were both tragically killed in July 2003 during the Oregon Trail Rally when their Works ProRallySubaru Impreza WRX left the road and struck a tree at high speed shortly after the start of the first stage.
This is a modified IXO RS200 which finished 3rd in the 1986 Manx Rally. The car was produced by either PJ Rallymodels.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020729_zpsv7ujj0pi
1987 and 1988
For 1987 only cars in Groups A and N, plus the still acceptable small engined Group B cars could compete.  The newly homologated rear-wheel-drive turbocharged Ford Sierra Cosworth cars were lined up against Audi’s recently introduced four-wheel-drive normally-aspirated Coupe Quattros while the old style Opel Manta 400s remained unaffected.  The popular Metro 6R4s were allowed to compete in the Marlboro Autosport RAC National championship in detuned form.  Events were still as tough as ever, with the stage times for the winners often well over three hours.  At this time the traditional secret forest route nature of the sport came under serious threat and the breakthrough came with the Scottish Rally, the first time that pacenotes could be used in British forest rallying, the end of the era.  It had nearly happened in 1987 but for 1988 it was permitted, starting off with a restricted form of reconnaissance with all the drivers in a one-time convoy, one behind the other.  This was a fundamental step forwards, ending the suspicions of cheating and of the perceived advantage of local knowledge – not that this was valid given the success of foreign drivers beforehand.  Ironically 1988 was to be the only time the Scottish driver Jimmy McRae won the Scottish Rally.  It was two more years before Rally GB (which had dropped out of the BRC after 1977) also allowed reconnaissance.  Jimmy Mcrae’s 4th and 5th BRC wins. After the first event of 1987 when he drove a near showroom spec Lancia Delta HF 4WD on the National Breakdown Rally (finishing 11th), Jimmy moved on to the Sierra Cosworth, one of which he subsequently passed to his son Colin. I believe Jimmy still owns this car today.
The 1987 Lancia Delta HF 4WD is a converted road car produced with grateful help from Dave (Zeus) who provided some reference photos. The 1987 Manx winning car is from the Trofeu British Rally Legends series (jimmy also won the COI in 1987), the 1988 Ulster rally winning car is a modified Trofeu model with homemade decals (Jimmy also won the COI and Scottish this year).
British Rally Championship Champions Collection IMG_5232%20002_zps753g8lvb
1989 and 1990
In 1989 Llewellin’s Toyota Celica ST165 won the opening round of the series and took the title at the end of the season.  The ‘nineties were coming up fast with new drivers, and midway through the decade a major change of direction so far as the cars were concerned. The 1990's welcomed the age of the younger British drivers!  30 year old Toyota driver David Llewellin scored his second title in the BRC in 1990 after a second place in the opening round of the series followed by four straight wins, becoming champion even before the end of July!  The message however was clear from the start of the season.  The winner of the opening round was Colin McRae, son of the man who already still holds a record of five titles.  At the age of 21, Colin’s victory on the gravel Cartel Rally in Yorkshire was his first international win, gained at the wheel of a rear-drive Ford Sierra Cosworth, taking advantage of a turocharger failure on the final stage for Llewellin.  Colin became quite the closest challenger to Llewellin through the year.  It was not straightforward for Colin as he had to fund his programme privately, but that problem was to end the following year with the arrival in the BRC of Subaru. So back to back wins in the BRC in 1989 and 1990 for David “Dai” Llewellin in his Securicor sponsored Celica GT’s.
Both models have been built on Altaya base’s, the 1989 Cartel winner with homemade decals (David also won the Welsh, Scottish and Audit Sport this year) , the 1990 Circuit of Ireland winning car with a combination of bought and homemade decals (David also won the Welsh, Scottish and Ulster events in 1990).
British Rally Championship Champions Collection IMG_5234%20002_zpszrlt5c9u

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British Rally Championship Champions Collection Empty Re: British Rally Championship Champions Collection

Post  reeft1 on Sun Mar 20, 2016 3:10 pm

The 90’s
1991 and 1992
The Legacy 4WD Turbo had been introduced into world championship rallying in 1990 and for 1991 Rothmans supported an entry in the BRC for the Prodrive team with Colin as the driver.  Colin’s closet rival was Russell Brookes, now a veteran of 46 years of age, for who, this his final full season, at the wheel of Ford’s new Sierra Cosworth 4×4.  By the end of 1991 there was another new car coming. David Llewellin was entered in a Nissan Pulsar/Sunny GTI-R and led the Audi Sport Rally (!) from start to finish only to be dropped from the team immediately afterwards!  By 1991 there was a growing interest elsewhere in the BRC when Ford offered up to ten Group N Sierra Cosworth 4×4 cars to selected young drivers a theme which was continued in 1992 with help from Shell which led to Colin’s younger brother Alister winning the championship’s Group N title.  Already the message of the McRae clan was becoming clear.  Three members of the family finished in the top ten on the Scottish Rally in 1991!   Another important driver entered the BRC scene in 1991, Richard Burns won his class on the Scottish and ended the season winning the one-make Peugeot GTI rally challenge. .
Colin Steele McRae, MBE (5 August 1968 – 15 September 2007)
A young Scot called Colin McRae secured a drive with Prodrive sponsored by Rothmans for the 1991 British rally championship in a works specification GpA Legacy RS. This season was also the one that earned McRae his nickname of ‘McCrash’ as he frequently redesigned the car on events. No matter how many times he put his car off the road he could drag it out of the ditches or trees and still go on to win the rally anyway - he won, the Talkland, COI, Scottish and Manx events in 1991). The 1992 season saw Colin win every stage bar two on every rally in the British championship in his Rothmans backed Legacy securing his second British Championship title (Vauxhall Sport, Pirelli, Scottish, Ulster, Manx and Elonex).
The 1991 Manx model is from IXO, the 1992 Scottish Rally car was produced using a Vanguards base plus assistance from a member of the Diecastrallymodels.com forum.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020732_zpsiakxbwzs
For 1993 the BRC was restyled into a five round series, one round in each nation and the second, end-of-season round in Wales being dropped.  The two all-asphalt events awarded extra points.  Colin McRae was promoted into the WRC with a selected programme of events in the Legacy, waiting for the moment the new Impreza model became available.  For the BRC Prodrive ran a two-car Subaru team with Burns and Alister McRae, Alister having a frustrating season but Burns had his first major success when he won the opening BRC round, the Vauxhall Rally of Wales.  He then had three more wins, including the final round in the Isle of Man, ending the season, at the age of 22, the youngest ever BRC champion.  This came one month after Colin had scored his first world championship rally win, in New Zealand, the first WRC win also for Subaru. Richard Alexander Burns (17 January 1971 – 25 November 2005). Another rally star who is sadly no longer with us.  This model by StartUp Models is of his 1993 Manx Rally winning car and Richard also won 3 of the other 4 1993 events - Welsh, Pirelli and Scottish).
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020733_zpsenirsjlf
1994 was to be a memorable season, the final time that the BRC was open to full Group A cars, a season with excellent free-to view television coverage and also the first real success for Malcolm Wilson’s Michein sponsored team of Ford Escort RS Cosworths.  Wilson’s season started with a fuel pump failure on the opening round followed by victory on four following events, victory on the opening round going to Wilson’s teammate Stephen Finlay.  Hot in the footsteps of the recent McRae family dominations came another family.  The 1994 Junior champion was Mark Higgins in a Honda Civic Vti while his brother David drove a Peugeot importers 106XSi.  From now on the BRC was going to cater for what was commonly called “Formula 2” cars and the champion in this category in 1994 was David Llewellin, now driving a Vauxhall Astra Gsi for their importers team. Malcolm Irving Wilson, OBE (born 17 February 1956) is a British former rally driver and current owner of team and constructor M-Sport. He has over 20 years experience of rallying at world championship level, much of it with Ford. He drove for three factory teams in the world championship, including MG, in whose Group B Metro 6R4, he shared driving duties with fellow Briton, Tony Pond. He spent several years as Ford's chief test driver, developing new rally cars, including the short lived RS1700T and RS200 models. As a driver, he won two British national titles in the late 1970s and achieved a long-held ambition by winning the British Rally Championship in 1994.
This is the IXO model of his 1994 Manx Rally winning Escort Cosworth - Malcolm also won he Pirelli, Scottish and Ulster, leaving only the Welsh to be won by someone else)
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020734_zpsjnidaptk
A new twenty year era for the BRC started in 1995 with the Vauxhall Rally of Wales.  Although four-wheel-drive, turbocharged cars were allowed to compete on the events, albeit without scoring points, the championship was now for the F2 cars and overall winner of the opening round was the Nissan of Alister McRae.  Significantly however the remaining four events were won by bigger cars including, making a guest appearance, Ari Vatanen on the Pirelli Rally in an Escort RS Cosworth.  Alister went on to become the inaugural title holder under the new rules, but despite the way that the championship cars were secondary competitors on events, the new formula attracted importer interest from seven manufacturers, more than the world championship and continental drivers active again.  Belgian driver Gregoire de Mevius had moved from Mazda to drive as teammate for Alister McRae, Alain Oreille for Renault, both former FIA champions, finishing the series third and fourth respectively. The 3rd member of the Mcrae family to win the BRC – This is a Realcarmodels model of the Nissan Sunny Gti which Alistair drove to championship (although not outright) victory in the 1995 Ulster rally - Alister also won the Welsh outright.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020735_zpsozzrb0hu
Ford meanwhile, had been developing their Mark V Escort RS2000 car particularly for Gwyndaf Evans who ended up winning the title, Volkswagen’s latest Golf arrived and Skoda came to the championship as well with their Felicia for 1996. The BRC further encouraged the participation of one make championships within their championship, for Peugeot and Subaru cars.  I can’t write a better summary of the 1996 BRC season than can be found on this web site: http://www.rs2000kitcar.com/Rally/1996.html
After the disappointment of 1995 where the car had run well but had missed out on the title, finishing 2nd in their first full season, the Ford team must have had high hopes for the new season. Indeed, a new assault was to be launched on the British championship. Again, Gwyndaf Evans and Howard Davies were to lead the charge, now in the face lifted Escort. Their new team mate was the Finn, Jarmo Kytolehto, who had previously driven a Vauxhall Astra. There was also Neil Simpson, driving Evans’ 1995 car, and Stephanie Simmonite driving an Escort prepared by Chris Birkbeck, now looking for her second Ladies Cup title.
There were plenty of fresh challenges from the opposition too. Mark Higgins had now moved up to a Group A Nissan Sunny. There was also another Finnish ace, Tapio Laukkanen, in a Volkswagen Golf. Renault were still present in the series, but were now using the Megane Maxi, with Robbie Head and French tarmac specialist, Serge Jordan at the wheel. The Megane was the first of the new generation of F2 kit cars to be used in Britain and, although not eligible for points in 1996, was to show the future of Formula 2 rallying.
Vauxhall Rally of Wales
Wales was the first opportunity to see what the new season had to offer. The Welsh weather also threw up another challenge, in the form of thick fog. Local boy, Gwyndaf Evans, settled in quickly, going well in the early stages. The second stage actually saw him set fastest overall time, quicker than that of Alister McRae and Arri Mokkonen in their non-championship Group A Escort RS Cosworths. Evans was flying; “The conditions have been really difficult, the fog has been really nasty...I hate it!”
Kytolehto had not been so lucky however. After an off on only the second stage, this was followed by a roll on the third, which saw him lose over four minutes, and plummet down the order. Neil Simpson was also struggling, and retired early on with a broken driveshaft. The championship rivals were also going well; Laukkanen was keeping in touch, and Higgins was quickly adapting to his new Nissan. Things weren’t going so well for Renault, with Head retiring after head gasket failure.
The final two stages of day one were held on the promenade at New Brighton. Evans went into these stages with the F2 lead, again bettering McRae and Mokkonen on the first loop. By the end of day one, Evans was still the leading F2 runner, with Higgins and Laukkanen in hot pursuit.
Day two saw the fog lifting slightly, but with rain to replace it. Evans started as he’d begun, pushing hard to retain his Formula 2 lead. Mark Higgins was also getting more comfortable in the Sunny, but dropped to third briefly, behind Tapio Laukkanen. Sadly for the Finnish driver though, his engine failed, and he fell out of the race.
Jarmo Kytolehto was also pushing, trying to make up for the drama of day one. He’d put in an excellent performance and managed to recover to sixth overall, third of the F2 runners. However, he couldn’t match the stunning performance of Gwyndaf Evans; fastest on every stage of the second day, he won the F2 section by four seconds over Mark Higgins, with Kytolehto in third.
Speaking at the finish, Evans said “It’s been a tough rally and very difficult conditions. It’s gone perfectly, Gordon Spooner Engineering have put a fine car together here.”
This early victory put Evans into early control of the championship, with Ford the top of the constructor’s leader board early on. It had been a great start to the season.
Pirelli International Rally
The Pirelli International Rally offered another challenge to the drivers; pace notes were banned, with the crews having to navigate solely off maps, meaning a careful balance of speed and commitment, as well as care, and trust in their co-drivers.
Steve Wedgebury flipped his Skoda on a bridge, blocking the stage, but Jarmo Kytolehto started much better however. Despite not having second gear, he held a 13 second lead over Evans after the first four stages. Sadly, it didn’t last. On the very next stage, the normally reliable Xtrac gearbox failed altogether, leaving Evans to take over the Formula 2 lead, and Nissan’s Mark Higgins to move up to second place. Neil Simpson was having better luck than in Wales, running well.
By the end of Leg One, the drama for Renault continued, with both the Meganes out; Head in Special Stage 1, Jordan following later in the day. Jouko Puhakka’s Golf was laying third in F2, with Higgins second, and Evans comfortably in the F2 lead, with only the two Escort Cosworths of Arri Mokonen and Alister McRae ahead of them.
The beginning of day two saw the longest stage of the event; Pundershaw. Evans was still going well, but Higgins wasn’t so lucky. A huge roll meant air lifting to hospital and a fractured vertebra. Simpson said he’d had a steady run through Pundershaw, but was ready to push on and challenge those in front of him.
For Evans though, it was another great drive. Mokkonen’s retirement meant second overall and another storming F2 victory for the Welshman; excitedly saying “Delighted for the team, Ford, and Howard and everyone else. Very Happy!”
Victory in Cumbria meant Evans stretched his title lead to 22 points over Puhakka. Ford now had a 12 point lead over Nissan in the constructor’s title battle, with VW only a single point behind them.
Perth Scottish Rally
Round three, a trip north of the border to Perthshire for The Scottish Rally, and another raft of points up for grabs. Conditions were very wet, and this seemed to suit the Finnish contenders. Jarmo Kytolehto shot into an early lead in his Escort, with Tapio Laukkanen in the Golf chasing hard. Evans had a steady start compared to previous events, but was still in contention, and looking to consolidate his championship lead. Neil Simpson was struggling again with gearbox troubles, this time stuck in third gear. It wasn’t all plain sailing for Evans either; the car was struggling to start and not cranking correctly, meaning frantic work in service halts to try and track down the problem.
Going into the final stages of the day at the Knockhill circuit, it was all to play for. Sadly for Laukkanen, he’d had two gearbox failures, so was forced into retirement. This left Kytolehto in the F2 lead at the end of day one, with Evans in second, and Higgins in third.
Leg Two saw a battle for the top spot that ran to the wire. Stephanie Simmonite was running well, but giving best to Louise Aitken-Walker, previous ladies champion, out of retirement for this one event. Evans was still having a few issues, and required a gearbox change late in the rally. Time was an issue, but the GSE crew managed to change it within the allotted service time, without incurring any road penalties. The Welshman was pushing hard, taking chunks of time out of Kytolehto, but was unable to make up the ground totally, giving the Finn his first F2 win of the year. Evans had to settle for second place, gaining more points, pulling further ahead of Puhakka in the championship table. This also left Ford with a comfortable lead in the constructors chase.
The Stena Line Ulster Rally
The Ulster Rally made up round four of the season, and another trip to Northern Ireland for the first tarmac round of the year. The stakes were high here for Ford. A good result could win them the British Championship, so a strong performance was essential. They were given a dream start too. Their main rival, Mark Higgins retired on the first stage of the event with a blown engine. Bad news for Higgins, but great news for Ford and Gwyndaf Evans; he only had to finish the event to take the title! Alister McRae also made a return to the championship, in a VW Golf. It was to be short-lived for both McRae and Laukkanen however, with both Golfs suffering gearbox failure and early retirement.
The tarmac did finally give Renault a chance to prove the performance of the Megane, with Robbie Head leading the FWD cars and 1995 Renault driver, Alain Oreille, making a guest appearance in the second Renault and running well. Evans didn’t let the gift of Higgins retirement slow him down however. He took an early lead of the championship runners, but behind both the Meganes. Kytolehto had to give up his seat to another Finn, Harri Rovanpera, who was going well in the other Escort. Kenny McKinstry was also out in his own RS2000, running well in F2, indeed, by the end of Leg One, the top three F2 cars were all Fords, with Evans leading the championship fight over McKinstry and Rovanpera respectively.
Day two saw the Renaults continue their charge, but Oreille wasn’t to make it to the end of the event, after a big off into one of the Ulster hedgerows. Neil Simpson in Evans’ old Escort was pushing, but struggling with clutch and brake issues throughout the day. Once again, the Simmonite sisters were leading the ladies contest, and eventually finished 12th overall and fifth of the British championship contenders. Robbie Head was the star of the front wheel driver runners, second only to the Subaru of Irish legend, Bertie Fisher. He was showing the future of Formula 2 rallying, and just how dominant the kit cars could be in the right hands.
However, it was Evans that was to take the glory. Another shining performance meant his third F2 win of the year, maximum points, and the British Rally Championship crown outright. When interviewed at the end of the final stage, Evans said “A credit to the whole Gordon Spooner Engineering team, Michelin tyres, Response, Ford, and everybody that worked so hard during the season to achieve this result...Absolutely great.”
Of the Formula 2 runners, Head had run away with it, but was not eligible for championship contention. Evans had dominated the points-scoring runners, backed up by Kenny McKinstry in second, Neil Simpson in third and Stephanie Simmonite fifth of the British Championship runners. Fords had dominated the Ulster Rally and Evans had taken the ultimate prize; recognition at last of the potential of the RS2000.
Once the dust had settled, Evans had an unassailable 49 point lead over second-place Justin Dale, with Neil Simpson fourth, and Stephanie Simmonite sixth.
Manx International Rally
As always, the British championship enjoyed its final round in the stunning scenery of the Isle of Man. The Manx is always dramatic, and 1996 was to be no different. As Gwyndaf Evans had already clinched the British title, it was to be something of a different event for him and co-driver, Howard Davies. The Escort they were using was a very different machine compared to the one they’d used in Ulster. The decision had been made, with both championships sealed, to sacrifice points and use the rally as an extended testing exercise. The car was hugely modified from Ulster spec, with clearly wider front wings, and a howling engine under the bonnet. The regular Group A unit had been replaced with a development kit car engine, giving the Escort a huge power increase. When asked what he was expecting of the rally, Evans replied “Just come here to enjoy ourselves really and obviously learn a bit on the car for next year.”
The development car was clearly working well, with Evans running third overall, behind Bertie Fisher and Armin Schwartz, both in Group A, four wheel drive, cars. The Escort was even beating the Renault Megane Maxi of Serge Jordan in the early stages, showing the Escort was definitely going in the right direction for 1997. Rovanpera was back in the second RS2000, running in third place the F2, but sadly crashed out on stage six. By the end of day one, Jordan had pushed ahead of Evans, with Mark Higgins the leading F2 runner, and Neil Simpson chasing hard.
Day two saw Jordan out early with transmission trouble, leaving Evans to take back the front wheel drive lead. Simpson was still pushing hard, trying to catch Mark Higgins’ Nissan, and with good reason; “I’d love to be second in the British Championship and give Ford a one-two, that would be excellent, but Mark’s really flying here; it’s his home territory so I’m struggling to catch him.”
Evans too was pushing. With Fisher forced out with mechanical problems, it was a straight fight between Evans’ Escort and Schwartz’ WRC Celica. On the fourth stage, Evans actually equalled the time set by the Toyota. When talking in service, Evans said “We are learning with the car, it’s a development. It’s an interim stage of the car for next year” going on to say excitedly; “We’ll hopefully have a bit more power again next year, so look out is it!”
A worrying prospect for Ford’s competitors indeed, as on Special Stage 14, Evans beat Schwartz to set the fastest overall time; an impressive effort for a front wheel drive F2 car! However, the fun soon ended. As they reached the stage end, the car sounded very unhealthy = the development engine had given up the fight. Gwyndaf Evans: “It was a good development trip and we’ve learnt. So we’ll go back and try and put things right.” Even Howard Davies could feel it from the passenger seat, noting “There was a lot more power in the car.”
Simpson had still been trying hard to catch local-boy Mark Higgins; a little too hard in places, going off into a river, and having to follow co-driver, Steve Martin, through the water to find a way out! Simpson’s Escort had been upgraded with the previous engine from Evan’s car and was showing good pace, but sadly the engine didn’t last, and Simpson was forced to retire, leaving Stephanie Simmonite as the only factory RS2000, sitting just outside the top ten.
The final day saw Armin Schwartz go on to take the rally win, with F2 being dominated by Manx drivers, Mark Higgins and Martin Rowe.
1996 saw the championship finish with Gwyndaf Evans a comfortable first, Stephanie Simmonite in fourth, and Neil Simpson sixth. Ford also took the manufacturer crown by six points, meaning 1996 would be the most successful year for the RS2000.
Network Q RAC Rally
After two consecutive RAC F2 victories and the British title, Gwyndaf Evans must have been confident for the 1996 RAC Rally. It was certainly going to be a difficult event, with snow and ice to challenge the drivers. Sadly it wasn’t to be three out of three for the British Rally Champion. Going into the Chatsworth House stage, the roads were extremely slippery, and the front wheel drive Formula 2 cars were struggling to get traction. Evans was to find out just how difficult the conditions were, to his cost. He slid wide on a right hander and clipped a huge tree stump hard, flipping the Escort, with a heavy landing on the roof. They managed to get out of the stage, but the roll cage was badly damaged, and the champions were out. They weren’t the only crew to fall victim to the conditions, and Robbie Head was to clip the very same tree stump and roll his Megane heavily. Evans was left to look forward to the 1997 British Championship and the new Escort kit car.
To build this car I had to take a mk5 escort kit, take a resin cast, reshape in to mk6 form, cannibalise an interior and wheels from a mk6 Escort Cosworth and produce my own decals. I am glad this one is finished…….
British Rally Championship Champions Collection IMG_5229%20002_zpsxw8z3p5w
The BRC these days was undoubtedly the premier national series in the world but still British drivers were supreme in 1997. The first of Manx rally legend, Mark Higgins 3 BRC wins.
The following is again taken from the excellent RS2000kitcar.com web site.
Gwyndaf Evans had dominated the championship the previous year, but 1997 brought many new challenges. The new generation of kit cars had arrived and the new Escort Super Rally Car was here; with wider wheel arches and a more powerful engine. The formidable challenge from Renault would continue; with Robbie Head and Manxman, Martin Rowe, joining the line up. Tapio Laukkanen remained with VW, now joined by 1995 champion, Alister McRae. Mark Higgins was still with Nissan, and the veteran, Stig Blomqvist, joined the Skoda team in the new Felicia kit car. With so many big names in the championship, it was going to be a big year.
Vauxhall Rally of Wales
The start of the season saw a return to the Welsh forests, and everyone was expecting a big battle between the top drivers. Evans said before the start “There’s no such thing as being tactical, it will just mean being flat out from the word go.”
He was right too; after the first three stages, it was closer than ever. Evans was in a dead heat for first place with Mark Higgins, it was that tight at the top! 1995 champion, Alister McRae was sitting in third place, but was suffering mechanical troubles, with an overheating engine. The tricky Welsh roads were to bite Evans, though. On stage four, Penmachno, a right front puncture saw him limp out of the stage with the front wing hanging off the car. Then, the second run through Penmachno saw Evans clip a rock with a rear wheel, wrecking the rear beam. Time was lost, with Howard Davies even having to bodge the rear brakes back together to get the car to the service area, where the GSE crew could get to work and fix the damage. With the car repaired, the Welsh pair could get back to the race and were still in third by the end of the day, albeit some way behind the new leader, Alister McRae.
Leg 2 saw Evans and Davies on the pace, but unable to make up the time they had lost the previous day. Elsewhere, Swede Andreas Eriksson was going well, starting the day in 10th place in his Escort. Unfortunately for the other runners at the front, McRae’s overheating issues had been left behind, and he was battling with Higgins for the rally lead until stage 13, which saw Higgins go off and drop down the order. Evans, who had been happy to hold station and take some championship points, had now been promoted to second place, better than they had expected, and where they would stay. McRae was well and truly in control, and would prove impossible to beat in Wales. Eriksson went on to finish seventh, a good result for the Swede, with Philip Young just outside the top ten in 11th place.
Pirelli International Rally
April meant the second round of the championship; the fearsome Pirelli International Rally of Cumbria. Taking on a new format for 1997, the event was to be split over the two days, with points available for both, as well as the overall honour of an outright win. The event started well for Evans again, running in third place after the first three stages, however he was forced down to fourth after stage four, behind the flying Robbie Head in his Megane Maxi. McRae was going well again, but a spin in the Falstone stage saw him drop some ten minutes and plummet down the leader board. Evans lost some time, almost collecting McRae’s front bumper whilst passing the stricken Golf, which Mark Higgins was all too happy to capitalise on, storming into the lead, leaving Evans in second after Head had dropped a little time, now in third position. Higgins held the rally lead, but a slight off lost him time, and by the end of the day, the pair had scored another dead heat, proving just how close the competition was. Evans took maximum points for day one, after setting fastest time on stage one, keeping him in touch of the title battle.
The second day started with fog, with McRae keen to score maximum points to make up for his off on Leg 1. As well as fog, the first stage saw the drivers face the longest stage of the event; Pundershaw. Evans proved the new Escort kit car had the goods, beating McRae to the fastest time; a lead he would keep for most of the day. Irishman Philip Young wasn’t so lucky however; a roll saw him lose a minute and drop down to 14th place. Stephanie Simmonite was having another good run in her Escort, taking her second Ladies Cup win of the year, and 18th overall, eighth of the F2 runners. Julian Reynolds was also running well in his new Escort, finishing fourth in Formula 2, giving Ford another good result for the Escort. With one stage to go, Evans was left with a 14 second lead over his rivals, and in prime position to take another good haul of points, as well as the first win for the new Escort kit car. McRae was on the pace, keen to overhaul Evans, meaning the battle would go right to the line. It certainly did that, but not quite as the lead crews had hoped! The final stage was filled with drama. McRae was pushing to the limit, hoping to catch Evans, but a heavy spin meant he was off the road and out of the event. Rovanpera also rolled out in the Ibiza Kit Car on the same stage. All looked good for Evans, until he slid slightly wide going through a fast, sweeping section, slipping into a ditch and rolling the Escort heavily. The car ended up on its roof, and Evans race was over. The dramatic end to the event saw Robbie Head take a surprise win, with Laukkanen second and Blomqvist third in the 1.6 litre Skoda, leaving the championship wide open!
RSAC Scottish Rally
The third round again marked the last outing in the forests, and the mid-point of the season. After the disappointment of the Pirelli, many of the top drivers had points to prove, and work to do to keep their title hopes alive. Evans had scored good points on day one of the Pirelli, but his day two exit had cost him dearly, leaving him second in the championship to Alister McRae by a point. A win on day two would have given him a comfortable lead, so there was a lot to play for in Scotland.
The Scottish roads seemed to suit the Golf however, with McRae and Laukkanen setting the early pace. Evans could only manage fourth spot, behind Mark Higgins, after the first stage, but the second stage saw him fastest overall, passing Higgins. Laukkanen and McRae were flying however, and Evans would be unable to catch them on day one, having to settle for third spot at the end of the first leg. It was all to play for on Leg 2 though, with only 12 seconds covering the top three runners.
Day two started in much the same way as the first, with the two Golfs trading times. Higgins suffered a puncture in the Nissan, meaning he dropped time to Evans’ Ford, giving the Welshman room to breathe and concentrate on trying to catch the two leaders. With only one stage remaining, there was now only nine seconds covering the top three, with just 19 miles left. When asked what his approach would be to that final stretch, Evans replied “What do you think? Maximum!”
Laukkanen was confident, boasting that the rally was his, but McRae wasn’t to be beaten in his home territory. He beat Laukkanen by some eight seconds, taking the victory, and consolidating his championship lead. Evans remained third, completing the final stage five seconds slower than Laukkanen. It was another good result for the Escort and for Ford, but they were no match for the VW duo on this occasion. With the forest rounds completed, McRae led the title race, with Evans second, eight points behind. Robbie Head was in third place, only three points behind Evans. The constructors race was equally close, with VW leading, Ford second, and Renault in third place. However, with the championship now moving onto Tarmac, would this favour the more powerful kit cars, and leave VW and Nissan struggling? Would the well-proven Megane sweep to victory? It was all to play for!
The Stena Line Ulster Rally
Ulster saw big changes for the Ford team, with another new car making its first British Rally Championship outing. Gwyndaf Evans would be piloting the new car, and was obviously excited for its first run; “We’re running the brand new Escort Kit Car, which looks absolutely stunning. I just hope it will go as well as it looks.”
The new car was certainly stunning to look at, with even wider wheel arches than the earlier kit car, giving it huge presence, much more like that of the Renault Maxi Megane. Indeed, the Escort was soon to share the Renaults “Maxi” tag. The changes weren’t just skin deep though, with the car now boasting a more powerful engine, as well as further revised suspension.
Evans was keen to show what the new car could do, and stormed into the Ulster lanes, giving best only to the Scot, Robbie Head, in the Megane. The new car was performing well but, like the Megane, wasn’t perfectly suited to some of the narrow roads of Northern Ireland. The wide track was making it difficult to navigate, with the car brushing the hedgerows at times. Evans noted after the first few stages “For the debut of the car, I think it’s showing a lot of promise. We have a bit more work to do on it, but it’s ok so far.”
By now, Head was having trouble, with an electrical fault losing him time on stage five. He had dropped down to eighth position, but was still setting fastest stage times for the remainder of the day. Mark Higgins was also going well, the Group A Nissan Sunny was well suited to the narrow roads, and he had moved in to the Formula 2 lead, over Evans; a lead which he would take into the overnight halt. McRae was in touch in third position, but the star of the show was undoubtedly Robbie Head. The Megane had been fastest on every single stage except where he’d had the electrical glitch.
Day two saw the top of the leader board remain the same. Higgins was in a comfortable lead, with Evans happy to settle for second place and take points again. The new car had performed well and clearly had potential to do very well in the future, but a good result and a strong points finish was essential to keep the championship within reach. Head managed to recover to third position, proving just how capable the Megane was on tarmac. The Simmonite sisters had another successful run, taking their fourth Ladies Cup victory of the year, and securing the title for the third year in a row. This meant, with one round to go, McRae still held the title lead, but only by two points over Evans, with Head six points further back. The final round on the Isle of Man wasn’t far off, with no less than five drivers able to win the championship, it was going to be a thrilling end to the year.
Manx International Rally
The Manx International Rally of 1997 would probably go down as one of the most eventful season climaxes ever seen. The top five drivers were all in with a chance of the title and, with two previous winners amongst them, as well as two Manx drivers in the mix. It was set to be a fantastic end to the season, but could Ford do the double and take the title for the second year running?
They certainly started well, with Evans’ Escort Maxi again battling with Robbie Head in the Renault Megane. The pair set joint fastest time on the first stage, proving how closely matched the cars were, but local boy Mark Higgins held the F2 lead after the first three stages. Suspension trouble saw him drop down to fourth however. The rally hadn’t started well for VW, with both McRae and Laukkanen suffering with handbrake and power steering problems, meaning McRae was unable to challenge for the lead in the early stages. By the end of the sixth stage, the weather had changed and it was raining hard. Evans and Head hadn’t let up however, sharing another two fastest times, and meaning a dead heat between the championship contenders. Julian Reynolds was also running well in his Group A Escort, pushing hard to break into the top ten. Towards the end of day one, Evans and Head scored another dead heat through Castletown, and a second fastest time on the final stage of the day saw Evans go into the overnight break with an 11 second lead. McRae was, by now, recovering, and had set the fastest time on the Cringle stage, showing it wasn’t over for the Scot just yet.
Leg 2 started well for Gwyndaf Evans, stretching his lead by four seconds in the now dry conditions, but it was all about to change, and there were to be big consequences for the title. Stage two saw the results turned upside down. McRae flipped his Golf at speed when the car was unsettled by the bumpy lanes, putting him out of the rally, and ending his hopes for a second British title. This should have been great news for Gwyndaf Evans, but sadly the second title was also to elude the Welshman in similar circumstances. A bumpy section unsettled the car; and a high speed spin resulted in a broken radiator and retirement. The car was undamaged otherwise, but with an overheating engine, there was nothing Evans could do, and the Escort wasn’t to get its second British title this year. With the top two championship runners out, the drama kept coming. Special Stage 17 saw Robbie Head also out of luck, as an early downshift killed his engine, leaving Mark Higgins to charge into the lead.
The final day saw the title race down to just two; Mark Higgins and Martin Rowe. Both drivers hail from the island, and both were keen to prove they had what it takes to wear the championship crown. It was a hard battle, with both drivers suffering problems. However, despite losing a wheel late on, Higgins was able to hold on and take the championship, though Rowe was to take the rally win, his first British Rally Championship victory.
This is a Rosso & Fly model with home made decals to represent the Ulster Rally winning car from that year.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020736_zpsmlphmmm0
In 1998 the championship was divided in the calendar between drivers and manufacturers and by now none of the events counted for a FIA championship, which opened up better chance of television coverage which otherwise would have been effectively forbidden.  This was a special reason why foreign teams were attracted.Martin Rowe won the BRC in 1998 in a Renault Megane Maxi. This is a Vitesse model with homemade decals to represent the Pirelli Leg 1 winning car (Martin also won the Welsh and Manx events in 1998).
British Rally Championship Champions Collection IMG_5237%20002_zpsjin45h5x
By the late ‘nineties the two-litre “Formula 2” scene was becoming the most interesting area in the sport, with cars offering power outputs in the high 200bhp mark and engine maximum revs towards the five figure mark.  These cars were becoming so special that “F2” cars won two world championship rallies outright.  In Britain there was now a second-level “F2” movement, for cars with engines up to 1.6 litres producing 200bhp.  As the decade came to a close it was Renault’s Megane Maxi cars which were unbeatable now in the hands of Finnish driver Tapio Laukkanen.  Still the series kept attracting new manufacturers.  SEAT came into the series with Ibiza cars and sponsored the Jim Clark Rally.  It was a most exciting time! This is a Vitesse model with homemade decals to represent the Jim Clark winning car - Tapio also won the Pirelli and Scottish in 1999.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020738_zpsztdn04wz

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Post  reeft1 on Sun Mar 20, 2016 3:10 pm

The 2000’s
The Millennium began with surely the most amazing season in the BRC. The agreement was that this would be the sixth and final year in which “Formula 2” cars would be the basis of the championship. The main contenders were the dealer supported Vauxhall and Volkswagen teams, supported initially by a team of ex-works Hyundai Coupes. It all started gently, without much support from foreign teams. Any privateer foreign driver was given encouragement to compete, one driver who gratefully accepted the offers was a little known Mitsubishi Group N Finnish driver, Marko Ipatti. He finished third and best non-Vauxhall on the opening round, winning the second round outright. Gradually Ipatti was to become less welcome, becoming a threat to the establishment. As the season progressed there were two top runners for the title, the Vauxhall driver Neil Wearden – and Ipatti. That was not the scenario the Professionals had planned! Ipatti became champion when Wearden’s engine failed on the opening stage of the rally and immediately withdrew from the event unchallenged for the title. Folklore tells that the Professional teams planned their final attack, calling on the organisers to scrutineer Ipattis’ car to find some technical illegality. Ipatti reacted and had his car dismantled with various components being sold second hand to other competitors around the service park, out of harms way. He privately boasted he defeated the system not once but twice, because the BRC was not run the next year. An unbelievable end to a scene that could never happen again, for various reasons. “Formula 2” had run its course and another more specific formula was being devised by the FIA, which was called Super 1600. Marko Ipatti won the first BRC of the new decade in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI N4. This is a Realcarmodels model of his Pirelli Rally winning car (the only event Marko won in 2000) – the decals on this car were way beyond my capability! -
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020739_zpsepccxehu
There was another outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the country and all unnecessary events in the countryside were curtailed. The debate about future vehicle rules for the BRC continued into the new year while the sport in the country was at a standstill, and preparing for the eventual revival of the sport was a new idea called “Formula Rally” centred around the Super 1600 rules. Qualifying events would be run in areas where the disease was less prevalent, and embraced the idea of holding events closer to areas of increased population. As an ad-hoc promotion it was special, albeit ending in contention about when the competing cars had to be homologated and an argument whether the Ford driver Martin Rowe or the Peugeot driver Justin Dale would eventually take the title.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection Fergie-toe-sucking-scandal_zpsrc9fxz0f
2002 and 2003
2002 brought a return to familiarity, a traditional eight round BRC calendar, the manufacturers title was only for S1600 cars (going to the only serious team, Peugeot), the drivers’ title for older version WRC or Group N cars (to Jonny Milner in a Toyota Corolla WRC). 2003 began uncertainly with the first round cancelled for lack of entries (organisers’ problems were already financially critical after the event’s cancellation the year before) with the same events counting for the drivers and manufacturers titles, victory again to Milner and Peugeot. Jonny Milner won back to back British Rally Championships in his Team Dynamics sponsored Corolla WRC. Both these models are Skid models with a combination of bought and home made decals. 2002 is the Trackrod winning car (Jonny also won the Welsh, and Scottish), 2003 the Manx rally winner (Jonny also won the Scottish).
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020740_zpswqhmituc
For 2004 newer WRC cars were permitted and many more foreign drivers arrived. This time David Higgins was champion in a Hyundai Accent WRC while for the next two years his brother Mark won the title. Entry numbers seemed low but in reality events were progressively becoming split up in the entries and categories, the Jim Clark attracting a total of around 150 competitors. The only BRC win for David Higgins, brother of Mark Higgins. David was in a Hyundai Accent WRC for this years event. This is a Realcarmodels model of the Pirelli Rally winning car from that year (his brother Mark won 3 events compared to David's one but David still took the title).
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020741_zps3mcjsjoi
2005 and 2006
Clearly not someone to take such an insult lying down, Mark “retaliated” to his brothers BRC win in 2004 with back to back championship wins in 2005 and 2006. In 2005 Mark won with his Vodka Kick sponsored Focus WRC and in 2006 it was won with the same sponsor, but this time in an Impreza N4. By 2005 the World Rally Car market was diminishing, the season starting with three serious WRC drivers, Mark Higgins, Matthew Wilson and Austin MacHale, reducing to two when Wilson badly injured his feet on the opening round in a curious coincidence of injuries suffered by his father in a crash in Scotland 27 years earlier. 2005 was the final season that WRC cars were eligible for the BRC. For 2006 there was a new sponsor, Tesco 99 Octane fuel, a calendar of six events including the Wales RallyGB WRC event which Mark Higgins, already that year’s BRC champion elected instead to drive in a World Rally Car.
The 2005 Manx winning Focus WRC is a Corgi base with homemade decals (Mark won the Pirelli, Scottish and Jim Clark as well) , the 2006 Jim Clark winning Impreza is by StartUp Models.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection Higgins%202005%202006_zpszxr9poun
2007 and 2008
News for 2007 was that Pirelli would act as the single tyre supplier, bringing with it their own Star Driver rewards systems. Once again the Wales RallyGB was the final event, and this year there was a curious system in which two BRC drivers, Guy Wilks and Gwydaf Evans were given “guest” Production Car championship status, with competitive advantages which many felt were unfair on the other championship competitors. The promoter also ventured into new ground when they noted the new international Group R class system, although they paid more homage than observance, since the cars simply used these names as a title for their own class structure. This year the WRGB created more difficulties, following the decision that the event would in fact count as two championship rounds, and with competitors on the event running under two separate sets of rules. Wilks was already the fastest driver in the series. Super 2000 cars were admitted into the series for the first time but this facility was poorly supported.
2008 celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the start of the BRC. This year all cars below WRC level were admitted but it was the Production Car of Guy Wilks which took the title, for a second time, the moment Mark Higgins retired and Guy became the last English champion in the series. The Pirelli Star Driver system allowed one driver from each event to qualify in a Shoot Out which then led to a paid drive on the following year’s championship. Darren Gass won a place in the 2008 series, but without much luck. The WRGB again provided two separate rounds of the series but it was not included in the BRC calendar after that. Clearly, when you get a feel for the car or conditions, multiple championships are possible, as Guy Wilks found out by taking his Ralliart sponsored Mitsubishi Evo 9 R4 to wins in 2007 and 2008. The 2007 RAC car (the RAC was a 2 part BRC qualifying event in 2007 and Guy won both parts) is a Vitesse model (Guy also won the Pirelli and Rally Yorkshire). The 2008 Pirelli rally winning car is a redecaled version of that car (Guy also won Rally Yorkshire and part 1 of the 2 part Rally GB event).
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020743_zpstheaf5hz
2009 and 2010
Time for Wilks to step down and for someone else to pick up the double bubble crown. This time, Keith Cronin, the eldest of ten children – was picked out as a potential star of the future on a children’s rally track in nearby Killarney, Ireland when he was just ten years old. They start them drifting early in the Emerald Isles…..
2009 saw a resurgence of foreign drivers domination in Britain. For the first time since the era of Mr Ipatti the title went abroad. Keith Cronin followed the legends of fellow Irish driver Billy Coleman, driving a Mitsubishi Evo IX, a third successive title for the company despite the official importer’s team withdrawal leaving the only top level championship team as the TEG team of Subarus, who ran Mark Higgins and Adam Gould, the season’s Star Driver from the year before. The successful proliferation of categories on events continued and provided competition for a wide variety of competitors. The season ended with new names coming along, notably Molly Taylor from Australia, who won the Ladies prize. One change, and more new cars were coming along in 2010. The next decade started with a success story for the Pirelli Star Driver project when Keith Cronin was rewarded with a drive in the BRC in 2010 and won the series, this time in a Subaru. For 2010 World Rally Cars were not admitted and the Scottish driver David Bogie was champion the following year in his Mitsubishi, the final year before a major change would come to the series. The decision was made that the 2012 series would be limited to two-wheel-drive cars. This was a timely move given the increasing degree of development of these cars. The series was sponsored in 2010 by Dulux Trade, an important move as this was not a direct support from the motor industry itself. One make support championships flourished, notably with Mitsubishi and the Fiesta ST models. At this time the French manufacturer competition departments were active in the BRC. Bryan Bouffier entered the Ulster Rally in 2010 with a DS3 R3 turbocharged car making its global competition debut and finished fifth BRC finisher, best two-wheel-drive. In terms of performance and also availability these cars were magic, and from 2012 onwards these cars were unbeatable except for on one occasion when Mark Donelly won the Sunseeker Rally. The international class systems were now fully in force and this opened up rivalry further down the results for cars complying with the R2 rules. It also renewed interest in the BRC from manufacturers notably from France with Renault using BRC events for testing new evolution versions of their cars.

The Trackrod Rally winning Evo 9 R4 was produced by JFE models, (Keith also won the Bulldog and Pirelli in 2009) whereas the Impreza N15 reflecting the Manx winning 2010 car was produced by Realcarmodels (Keith also won the Bulldog in 2010).
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020744_zps2c0chwt8

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Post  reeft1 on Sun Mar 20, 2016 3:11 pm

The 10’s
The Evo 9 R4 was proving stiff competition in the BRC. In 2011 Scotsman David Brogie piloted his car to his first and only BRC win. This is a Realcarmodels model of his Sunseeker Rally car – an event I am fond of but which is sadly no more as a result of last years MSA decision to suspend the championship for 2015. David also won the Pirelli and Jim Clark in 2011.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020745_zpsynfc6inm
In an effort to reduce costs and to increase competition, the eligibility rules changed again for 2012, and small front wheel drive hatchbacks became the order of the day. You can understand the intent, but the change wasn’t to prove entirely successful. Again, Irishman, Keith Cronin was back at the top of the table come the end of the season in his M O’brien sponsored Citroen DS3 R3T to take his 3rd BRC win.
This is an IXO base with homemade decals decals representing the Todds Leap winning car from 2012 (Keith also won the Pirelli and Jim Clark events).
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020746_zpsi1qizxp8
Keith moved on to a fresh challenge for 2012 so the new champion was Finnish rally driver, Jukka Korhonen. DS3’s ruled the roost again.
This is an IXO base with homemade decals representing the Jim Clark winning car from 2013 although Jukka also won the season opening Pirelli.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020747_zpsonydpq2e
The final championship in the old style BRC came in 2014 with the Manx International Rally, a longer event which was run as a double -header event. The Citroen era in the BRC had brought three different champions (Cronin, the Finn Jukka Korhonen and finally the Irish driver Daniel McKenna) before a decision the BRC would take a Sabbatical break in 2015 before a new style series would be run in 2016. The two-wheel-drive series had been a remarkable endeavour, an opportunity to encourage more appropriate and meaningful motorsport. At the heart of the final 13 years of the series, the most fast-moving days, had been Mark Taylor who served firstly as the rally manager and then as the official promoter of the series. There was also sadness in 2014 when a tragic spectator accident led to a reappraisal of the unique background authority behind the Jim Clark Memorial Rally, the forerunner of the closed public road special stages in mainland Britain. 2015 saw another Irishman (must be something in the water – they get lots of it) take the championship. Daniel Mckenna won at the end of the season after a see-saw battle with Osian Pryce from Wales.
This is an IXO base with homemade decals representing the Manx winning car. Daniel also won he Jim Clark and Scotland events.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1020749_zpsnbbfn4pd
No British Rally Championship for 2015, the first time in its history dating all the way back to 1958 that it has not taken place for reasons within its own control. Everyone was keeping their fingers crossed that the people at the MSA came up with a format that would bring this Championship back to its former glory and justify its suspension this year and the loss of the Sunseeker.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection Rodney%20plonker_zpsydrvxylp

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Post  newt5550 on Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:15 pm

Fantastic collection of models and some great reading. Credit to you Paul. Excellent work. My favourite thread.

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Post  reeft1 on Sun Jan 29, 2017 1:23 pm

The return of the BRC after the years sabattical and to be fair, my expectations were exceeded with lots of cars entering and lots of fab machinery, including the return of 4 wheel drive in the form of R5 machines.

Elfyn Evans (after losing his WRC seat) was the runaway winner, winning the Mid Wales, Scottish, Nicky Grist, Ulster and IOM events in his Dmack sponsored car.

This is a redecaled IXO model, using Rally Decals Shop and home made decals.

British Rally Championship Champions Collection P1030538_zps56tobydj

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Post  reeft1 on Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:31 am

John Sprinzel's 1959 Austin A35 from the Coupe des Alpes event - K&R Replicas
British Rally Championship Champions Collection IMG_0410%20002_zpsyhjg50f1

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Post  CDM on Sun Jan 06, 2019 12:48 pm


Blimey this has been a tour de force.

Lots on memories from when we followed the BRC in the 70s and 80s and the Manx for many more years

Incredible background information, well done that man!!



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Post  reeft1 on Sun Jan 06, 2019 2:25 pm

Thanks Chris. The 2017 and 2018 cars are in-flight. I was a bit let down on one of the 2017 builds and have been waiting over a year for it to be completed- hopefully that will be sorted in the next couple of months.

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Post  reeft1 on Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:20 pm

Found some hi-res reference pictures via RallyRetro of the 1969 Bloxham Fulvia on the Welsh Rally which enabled me to add some missing decals and also modify the car as on the event the Fulvia was carrying extended wheel arches.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection IMG_0811_zps62n92ubf

Thanks to Dave "Zeus" I was able to add some much needed rally plates and door plates to the 1966 Fidler Triumph 2000.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection IMG_0812%20002_zpsihxq1z82


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Post  reeft1 on Mon May 20, 2019 9:26 pm

Well, it's been a very long time coming but i finally received today a much awaited model that i'd ordered nearly 18 months ago. Very happy with it now its arrived!

2017 saw Keith Cronin win his 4th British Rally Championship. Keith started the season in a Fiesta R5 Evo, taking 4th place on the Border Counties Rally. The car was the upgraded to Evo 2 specification and Keith went on to be the leading BRC driver in the Ypres, Ulster and Isle of Man events.

These 2 models by Piotr at Modele Sklep represent the Evo car from the Border Counties and the Evo 2 Ypres winner.

British Rally Championship Champions Collection IMG_2075%20002_zps59ga9tqs

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Post  reeft1 on Tue May 28, 2019 10:22 pm

Matt Edwards was head and shoulders above the other drivers in 2018, pedalling his Fiesta R5 Evo to wins at the Pirelli, Ypres, Ulster and 1 of the 2 rounds (round 7) at the Wales Rally GB. This is a Realcarmodels from Hungary model of the Ulster event winning car.

British Rally Championship Champions Collection IMG_2175%20002_zps9empkc0t

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Post  reeft1 on Sat Nov 23, 2019 1:29 pm

1985 - UPDATED
Russell Brookes 2nd BRC, again in a Heat for Hire sponsored car, this time however it was an Opel Manta. The season started with the National Breakdown rally, which Englishman Malcolm Wilson and co-driver Nigel Harris won, ahead of Russell Brookes and Terry Kaby. Another victory here for the Audi Quattro A1. Onto the Circuit of Ireland where Jimmy McRae and his co-driver Ian Grindrod won easily in the Opel Manta 400, the car which took him to his third championship in 1984, and which swept the podium, proving its success in Ulster. Two consecutive podiums allowed Brookes to take the championship lead on 24 points. In Wales, at the Shell International Welsh Rally, Wilson got his second win of the year, and retook the lead because of Brookes' retirement from the rally. France's flying female and second place finisher Michèle Mouton got her first ever podium (and ultimately, only finish) in the championship, and McRae's third ensured he stayed in the title fight. At the Lloyds Bowmaker Scottish Rally, Brookes made up for his rally-ending accident last time out by finishing third behind Wilson, who won for the third time this year, and McRae. Two more rallies to go and when recently watching a video of the 1985 Ulster Rally I became aware that the Vauxhall/Opel boys had recognised the need to help Russell in his quest for the BRC title. They therefore built a special Opel Manta which was 40kg's lighter than the standard car - Brookes found his winning form the British Midland Ulster Rally and defeated McRae and Finland's Mikael Sundström. Going into the traditional season finale at the Tudor Webasto Manx International Rally, Brookes and McRae were tied for the championship lead on 49 points, meaning that whoever finished better of the two would also take the title of British Open Rally Champion whilst Wilson was still in contention for the title on 45 points. The tiebreaker was won by Brookes and therefore the title, his second British Rally Championship. Wilson's championship hopes were ended after the Cumbrian overturned his Audi Quattro on stage 22, crashing out of the rally lead. The co-driver's title went to Mike Broad who beat Ian Grindrod and Nigel Harris. This is the PJ Rallymodels version of the Manx winning lightweight car. and the 2nd place season opening National Breakdown car - the latter built with this assistance of Andy Howdle on a Vitesse base, with rubbish Spanish decals, some Vitesse decals and some homemade.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection IMG_4036%20002_zps9efupqtc

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Post  David Napier on Sat Nov 23, 2019 11:03 pm

Good stuff as always, I always enjoy your threads

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Post  reeft1 on Sun Nov 24, 2019 4:46 am

Thanks David

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Post  reeft1 on Sun Feb 23, 2020 1:08 pm

Matt Edwards secured back to back British Rally Championships by winning the Cambrian, Ypres and Ulster rallies and taking the 2019 series. Whilst maybe not the fastest on the stages at every event, Matt definitely benefited from the old adage, to finish first, first you have to finish. This is an IXO base model with Rally Decal Shop decals and represents the car Matt drove to finish first of the BRC contenders and take maximum BRC points as a result at Rally Ypres (6th overall behind notable drivers such as Breen, Abring and Loix).
British Rally Championship Champions Collection IMG_4751%20002_zpsk2lwmgq0

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Post  reeft1 on Thu Mar 26, 2020 9:59 pm

With grateful thanks from Dave (Zeus) who highlighted that that Mcrae started the 1987 season at the National Breakdown Rally in a near showroom standard Lancia Delta HF 4WD (finishing 11th), and provided some reference photos, i've built the car that Jimmy used on that event.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection IMG_5232%20002_zps753g8lvb

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Post  reeft1 on Fri Apr 10, 2020 5:41 pm

With grateful assistance from Bill Swann and in particular Peter Allen of the Ulster Automobile Club, I have been able to complete the Roy Fidler car line up from 1966 by adding the Group 3 Triumph 2000 from the 1966 Circuit of Ireland rally. Roy finished 4th in 1966. This is repainted Neo model with homemade decals.
British Rally Championship Champions Collection IMG_5233%20002_zps2y2mzoj7

I also found confirmation that the Rally of the Vales was a qualifying event in 1967 for the Motoring News, BTRDA and BRC (RAC) championships, and with the finalisation of this home made decales/right hand drive converted Trofeu model, my British Rally Championship winning cars collection is once again complete!
British Rally Championship Champions Collection IMG_5235%20002_zpsmsuzktiq

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Post  Dr Tumbo on Fri Apr 10, 2020 11:21 pm

Fantastic updates. Look forward to the full collection display shot
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Post  bmd on Sat Apr 11, 2020 4:43 pm

paul that is class work m8, well done sir!

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Post  reeft1 on Sat Apr 11, 2020 4:56 pm

Thanks gents

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Post  cowfeeder on Sun May 24, 2020 1:39 pm

Afternoon Paul
Had a read through your posts from the start, excellent detail and history in there a complete credit to you. Great seeing how this collection builds as you continue to build and add further BRC models into it.

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