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