JACK BENYON

“The 1400 cars have a lot to of­fer in ral­ly­ing”

Motor Sport News - - Rally News -

I

t’s rel­a­tively ob­vi­ous that 1400 ral­ly­ing is in a poor state. Much has been made of the ‘new’ seed­ing rules in ral­ly­ing plac­ing 1400s at the back of the field and that, in turn, means smaller cars are en­coun­ter­ing ruts caused by pow­er­ful four-wheeldrive machin­ery.

Last week­end I cov­ered the DMACK Carlisle Stages, and it proved an eye opener. OK, that’s not quite right, I’ve al­ways been aware of the plight of the plucky cars. Re­minded, that’s a bet­ter word.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the won­der of new cars like the R5s, but the 1400s still have plenty to of­fer.

De­spite small num­bers, an ex­cel­lent ar­ray of tal­ent glis­tened in the Kielder sun­shine last week­end. Ac­tu­ally, that’s a step too far. Has it ever been sunny there? An­swer: No.

Se­ri­ously though, down to the facts. In the 1400S class the tal­ented young Jor­dan Hone took the class win. Along with Paul Hone, there aren’t many more en­thu­si­as­tic rally peo­ple in the BTRDA-CAMP, not least com­ing from Lon­donderry. They should be com­mended for that alone, but Hone has proved him­self an able pi­lot. He did ben­e­fit from Mat Smith tak­ing a wheel off. But the fact Mat Smith was there brings me to my first point about why 1400 ral­ly­ing in the BTRDA is still rel­e­vant. With tal­ents such as Mat knock­ing around, there’s plenty of com­pe­ti­tion and plenty to learn for the younger driv­ers. Smith could have long made a step up to quicker machin­ery.

Per­haps the tal­ent in 1400C was even more im­pres­sive. Joe Evett took the vic­tory in a near bog stan­dard car af­ter seven months out of the seat. He even per­suaded WRC co-driver Phil Hall part­ner him, and the last time he had a smile on his face that big was when I fer­ried him to some stages on the Som­er­set Rally. Talk about good driv­ers.

Jokes aside, Evett even man­aged to beat some 1400S crews, and here comes my sec­ond point. It’s still an ex­cel­lent place to learn. The like­able duo of Matt Jack­son/claire Wil­liams suf­fered when a pan­hard rod mount came off the rear beam cul­mi­nat­ing in a very tail-happy Nis­san Mi­cra.

The fix was agri­cul­tural, but proved that with tape and tie straps al­most any­thing can be fixed. It’s that re­pair-your-own car, go hard or go home at­ti­tude that makes grass­roots ral­ly­ing fun. And the 1400s is a great place to learn.

It seems that now is as good a time as any to raise, once more, the seed­ing is­sue. The 1.4-litre cars were so en­joy­able over the week­end that they were a high­light of the event. We sim­ply can­not af­ford to lose as many 1400s as we have and some­thing has to be done. I for one will be do­ing all I can in the com­ing weeks to see if any­thing can be done. Af­ter all, the events are suf­fer­ing from the lack of en­tries just as much as spec­ta­tors are miss­ing out on the epic class bat­tles.

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