REALISING A How BTRDA protege John Fox has reaped the ultimate rewards. By Duncan Stephens
Last season was the crowning glory for BTRDA battler John Fox after an eight-year journey to reach the top. The 31-year-old, who first sampled the sport through a Motorsport News- backed competition with the BTRDA, managed to secure the coveted BTRDA Gold Star Allrounders Championship – a dream that had seemed a distant target when he took his first steps in the sport in 2007.
The Allrounders contest demands that entrants take part in six events in three different BTRDA disciplines to accrue the points needed to win.
His 2015 campaign almost went unrewarded. It wasn’t until the end of the summer that friend and rival Jamie Yapp pointed out to Fox that his points total across the different contests that he had already tackled would give him a shot at the Allrounders Gold Star.
So Fox turned his attention to the final two autosolo championship events of the season to chase enough marks and variety to claim the trophy outright. He had already contested two sprints, three autosolo events (one borrowing friend Kevin Hardwick’s Peugeot 205 XS) and a sporting trial in his girlfriend’s dad’s (Jerome Fack) SRB. They were all elements that helped him to the biggest victory of his career to date.
Fox says: “Since I joined the BTRDA I have hoped to win a Gold Star but expected it would be many more years before that became a reality.
“It’s an honour to win the Allrounders championship having come close the last few years. I have made some fantastic friends who have also helped me win my first gold star since the BTRDA Drive contest while having some serious fun, and can’t thank the BTRDA and MN enough for the opportunity.”
And now he has collected the trophy, Fox has no desire to give it back and will be challenging again in 2016. He has added a classic Mini to his roster of competition vehicles, which will give him the perfect platform to tackle more autotests.
It is all a long way from his first steps in the sport. In January 2007 the BTRDA Motorsports Future group launched its competition in MN to highlight the variety of disciplines on offer by the club and show how easy it is to get started. The winner was granted a season’s funded motorsport, taking in six events over three disciplines in the BTRDA Nissan Micra, thus qualifying for the BTRDA Allrounders championship.
Fox, then 23, applied and, after a selection day at Bill Gwynne Motorsport in Brackley, was selected to share the car with Under 17 Car Club winner Julian Archard.
During the assessment day Fox was scored in the Micra, and also in a Ford Escort Mk2, which he says was the biggest challenge having not experienced rear-wheel drive beforehand.
During 2007, Fox competed in two car trials, two autosolos and two autotests all in the same Micra. He was determined to make the most of the opportunity, although he later admitted that he found the psychological side hard because, with the BTRDA contests, it is vital to put mistakes behind you quickly.
At the end of the season, Fox received another surprise at the invitation-only Ken Wharton international autotest with a guest drive in a fully autotestprepared Vauxhall Nova provided by Richard Egger.
Fox continued to support BTRDA events and the Allrounders series, competing in autosolos, autotests, trials, taking on speed events and sporting trials. In 2010, he took the BTRDA Autosolo title in his Peugeot 106.
After a few attempts at speed and hillclimb events, the passion of competition had bitten, along with the camaraderie of rivals and good friends Hardwick and Yapp, who had become under 1400cc class sparring partners.
Fox purchased a Renault Clio Trophy machine and that step up in reliability resulted in 10th place overall in the 2014 HSA Speed championship and he was crowned as class champion.
Fox has qualified for Allrounders each season since those initial outings in 2007. In 2012 he finished fourth, was third in 2013 and then runner-up in 2014. The final piece of the jigsaw came with the top spot in the Allrounders contest last year.
BTRDA director Nick Pollitt, one of the assessors at Brackley back in 2007, remembers: “It was obvious during the selection that Fox was very focused, had a natural skill and was highly competitive,