MANAGING THE CLASS WARFARE
BTRDA Rallycross kicks off this weekend and Hal Ridge tried the cars
Last week, the rallycross headlines in Motorsport News included the announcement that Sebastien Loeb, arguably the world’s greatest ever rally driver, will race for Team Peugeot-hansen in the FIA World Rallycross Championship this year. As well as that, we previewed the impressive top-level Supercar entry for the opening round of the British Rallycross Championship, which took place last Sunday at Croft.
This weekend, at Blyton Park in Lincolnshire, the BTRDA Clubmans Rallycross series holds its first of seven 2016 rounds.
In some ways Clubmans rallycross couldn’t be further away from the glitz and glamour of World RX and Loeb. But, in other ways, it’s also very similar, albeit with different regulations and categories. The basic principle remains the same.
The Clubmans series returned for 2014 after a sabbatical with the aim of providing a cost effective entry-level route into rallycross. With the growth of the sport worldwide, there is now a clear structure from the most amateur of racers in the Clubman championship, to the factory-backed teams employing the services of star drivers in World RX.
The fact that the British Rallycross Championship has attracted a new title sponsor, strong TV package and the strongest Supercar entry for some time is a clear indication that the sport as a whole is benefiting from the overall exposure that the World Championship is creating, and the Clubmans series is also enjoying the same perks.
Around 50 drivers are entered for the opening round of the championship this weekend at Blyton and nearly 50 per cent of those didn’t compete last season.
“I think we’re looking ahead to another strong year,” says BTRDA rallycross committee member John Rook. “There’s a good increase across the classes. I think there will be another good fight for the overall title too.”
The Clubman series has introduced two new classes for 2016: Historic and Production 4x4, to join the existing Production, Super Modified and Clubman Supercar divisions.
“The Historic class has attracted the biggest Classic Mini entry since 2012 and has everything from a 1275cc Mini to a 3.9-litre Sierra Cosworth,” says Rook. “We know that the main four-wheel-drive cars will always race in the British Championship and we’re not ever going to try and compete with that. What drivers asked us for is an accessible route into four-wheel drive, so that’s why we’ve introduced Production four-wheel drive.
“Theoretically, you can now join the sport by competing in the BTRDA, move up to the British Championship, then all the way to European and World RX. People who go to watch big events, like the Supercars in the British or World Championships, can come to us and compete, and we get a lot of enquires at club level from people wanting to get involved.”
The Clubman championship has received 60 registrations to date for 2016, many of which didn’t race last year.
Motorsport News was invited to the championship’s pre-season test day at Blyton Park recently, to sample a car from each of the five Clubman categories.
Motorsport News’s rallycross correspondent Hal Ridge, who has previously competed in the Clubman, British and European Rallycross championships, made the journey to Lincolnshire to get behind the wheel.