THREE MITSUBISHIS WON’T DO FULL BRC
Despite strong Mid Wales result, team boss Jukes won’t change plans
Spencer Sport boss Charlie Jukes has said that all three Mitsubishi Mirages won’t compete in a whole British Rally Championship season despite a strong result on the Mid Wales Stages earlier this month.
Welshman Osian Pryce steered the car to victory in the National Rally Cup section and his time would have been good enough for fifth overall on the event had the car been included in the BRC 1 class for R5, S2000 and RRC cars. The Mirage isn’t yet homologated with the FIA and therefore had to run in the Cup section of the rally for cars that do not comply with international regulations.
“It was a good weekend. We were very pleased,” said Jukes of the result. “It was nice to show exactly what we could do against the other R5 cars with there being every manufacturer on show. We know there is more to come so it’s really positive we’re so close [to the other cars].”
The team had been on for a 1-2-3 in the National Rally Cup before Jamie Jukes rolled out of second place on SS3. Robert Blomberg – who finished second on his first visit to the UK – was over eight minutes behind Pryce in his Mirage, and third man Sacha Kakad (Mitsubishi Lancer E10) was a further minute and a half behind Blomberg.
Jukes is hoping that homologation of the Mitsubishi is not far away, with more running planned for the car. “We’re are in talks,” he said. “It’s been difficult to focus on this while we were preparing for the BRC, but we have someone working on it at the moment. We’re now going to do some testing and make some changes with the Circuit of Ireland and our first asphalt event coming up.
“We’re planning to compete the whole BRC season with at least one car, but I’m not sure what other events we’ll do with Osian yet. It’s also our intention to enter a few selected events too, including Wales Rally GB.”
I’ve been frequently told of late that the dwindling entry numbers on English rallies is partly due to the fact that the sport is failing to attract new blood. If true, this means that road rallying will die out, simply as the present generation of competitors shuffles off this mortal coil, as Hamlet so eloquently put it.
To see how true this theory is I had a look at the results of the recent Bruce Robinson Memorial Rally. Amazingly, of the top five finishers, seven of the crew members had started the same event 10 years ago, and of the other three, two had been competing in 2006, just not on Lincoln’s premier road rally. Three had actually finished in the top 10 in 1996. This meant that only Malton’s young Sam Spencer didn’t have to be wheeled up in a bath chair to receive his award at the end of the night.
By coincidence I had the opportunity to check out how things looked in Wales on a couple of events in January. The JJ Brown Memorial had an award for the highest placed navigator aged under 21, while the Rali Mike Darowen had a prize for the best placed veteran; veteran in this instance being anyone over 50. Fifty! What I found was that, while 14 navigators qualified for the JJ Brown Under 21 award, there were just three veterans on the Mike Darowen. Seemingly there’s plenty of young blood in Wales. Although it does look as though they put on their cardigan and slippers and sit in front of the fire once they hit the lower slopes of middle age.
However, there is an aspect of these stats that concerns me. Of the 14 youngsters on the JJ Brown there was only one girl. Ten years ago I wrote a column in MN bemoaning the lack of women participating in road rallying. If anything, in the intervening period things have got worse.
On both the Rali Mike Darowen and the Rali Bryniau Clwyd the Mixed Crew Award was won by Ian ‘Dude’ Roberts and Gwawr Hughes. No surprise there, they’re a highly talented crew, but the truth is that in both cases it was a walkover for them, they were the only Mixed Crew to finish. In fact, on the Bryniau Clwyd, Gwawr was the only female starter.
While football and rugby are attracting women in increasing numbers, what is road rallying doing wrong? Is there an off-putting macho culture? Does the sport have too low a profile and simply isn’t noticed?
Whatever the problem, if this reservoir of potential competitors could be tapped into then there would be plenty of fresh blood to sustain us. It’s not even as if we’re trying to appeal to a minority. Women make up the majority of the population after all.