“The BRC ti­tle race is still wide open”

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - NA­TIONAL RAL­LY­ING ED­I­TOR JACK BENYON

It’s at this point we could po­ten­tially switch off all the lights and va­cate the build­ing. Af­ter romp­ing to a dom­i­nant vic­tory in Scotland, El­fyn Evans surely has one arm in the BRC vic­tory sash? No! Thanks to the for­ward think­ing of the BRC or­gan­is­ers, at the start of the year they in­tro­duced the dou­ble points fi­nale on the Isle of Man. Bear­ing in mind it’s 25 points for a win, that means some­one 49 points be­hind the se­ries leader can still win en­ter­ing the fi­nal round.

The purists among you may shiver at that thought (me in­cluded) as the best driver should win. In the same way Sebastien Ogier shouldn’t be pegged back by road con­di­tions for the en­ter­tain­ment of WRC fans, a dom­i­nant El­fyn Evans shouldn’t be de­nied a cham­pi­onship if the wheels fall off on the Manx.

What it does mean is the cham­pi­onship is open. Next up we have the Nicky Grist Stages, which you can learn more about on these pages next week. But, in sum­mary, it’s Rally GB gravel stages on Satur­day, and some of the most test­ing Tar­mac any­where in the world on Epynt on Sun­day. That in it­self will pro­duce fire­works and a few is­sues for cham­pi­onship fron­trun­ners I’m sure.

Then there’s Ul­ster, which I’ve never heard re­ferred to as an easy rally. A re­turn to more north­ern stages won’t help out com­peti­tors ei­ther. For an as­phalt event, at­tri­tion and er­rors are higher there than most.

With all that in mind, there’s plenty of mileage in this year’s ti­tle race in the Bri­tish cham­pi­onship. Not only could the Nicky Grist and Ul­ster throw up some shocks, but the Isle of Man pro­vides that last chance sa­loon.

You can bet that the BRC fron­trun­ners will also be push­ing like crazy if the ru­moured en­tries of Mads Ost­berg and Kevin Ab­bring ma­te­ri­alise. No one will want to be given a hid­ing by two driv­ers who haven’t com­peted in their cham­pi­onship all year.

Re­mem­ber 1997? It may be 19 years ago but it stands as one of the best fi­nales in BRC his­tory. Alis­ter Mcrae, Martin Rowe and Mark Hig­gins all stood a chance of ti­tle hon­ours, and guess where it hap­pened? That’s right – the Manx.

Mcrae crashed out rel­a­tively early, while Hig­gins also had an off late on. But he re­cov­ered to score enough points from sec­ond place, while all Rowe could do was give the Re­nault Me­gane a thump­ing vic­tory.

That year also fea­tured an Ul­ster-manx combo to fin­ish. If this year’s cham­pi­onship mir­rors the close­ness and the epic bat­tles of 1997, we couldn’t ask for much more.

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