Cham­pi­onship re­veals cal­en­dar and new points sys­tem

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - By Jack Benyon CAL­EN­DAR Pho­tos: FIA ERC, Jakob Ebrey 2017 Bri­tish Rally Cham­pi­onship (sub­ject to MSA ap­proval)

The Bri­tish Rally Cham­pi­onship has con­firmed the Ypres Rally as one of its rounds for the 2017 sea­son, MN can re­veal.

The BRC – in its first year since a hia­tus in 2015 – will keep the ma­jor­ity of the events seen in 2016, with Ypres re­plac­ing the Cir­cuit of Ire­land, which won’t run in 2017 due to a fund­ing strug­gle.

To al­low the ad­di­tion of Ypres, the RSAC Scot­tish Rally has moved from its June date – which clashed with Ypres in 2016 – to May 19/20. Although the event is listed as two days on the cal­en­dar, it hasn’t been con­firmed whether the event will move to a two-day for­mat hav­ing run on a sin­gle day this year.

IMS chief Ben Tay­lor be­lieves the ad­di­tion of Ypres brings an im­por­tant in­ter­na­tional el­e­ment to the cal­en­dar.

“We were sorry to lose the Cir­cuit, but I am ab­so­lutely de­lighted that we are able to add Ypres to the BRC cal­en­dar for next year,” said Tay­lor.

“Not only is it an ex­cit­ing prospect for the com­peti­tors who get to take on a leg­endary event, but for the BRC it demon­strates an in­creas­ingly in­ter­na­tional per­spec­tive as we strive to cre­ate the best pos­si­ble se­ries for driv­ers from around the world.”

Ypres man­ager Alain Pe­nasse – also team man­ager for the Hyundai WRC team – be­lieves that the Bri­tish cham­pi­onship is close to re­turn­ing to its hal­cyon days of the 1980s.

“I’m a cer­tain age that I re­mem­ber in my young days where the BRC was some­thing ev­ery­one looked up to,” said Pe­nasse. “So for me I think the Bri­tish cham­pi­onship can go back to that age. All the best driv­ers were there for a ref­er­ence. You have ev­ery­thing in Bri­tain for this to hap­pen again with gravel and Tar­mac. We [Ypres] can be part of that and it’s a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity for us.

“I’ve been keep­ing an eye on the Bri­tish Cham­pi­onship this year and it ap­pears to be a for­mula that is work­ing well.”

Pe­nasse also said that the door wasn’t closed for the Euro­pean cham­pi­onship to visit Ypres again in 2017, de­spite grow­ing dis­con­tent to­wards the cham­pi­onship by the rally or­gan­is­ers.

“The dis­cus­sions are still on­go­ing,” added Pe­nasse. “It’s clear we have a right-hand-drive car avail­able. The car is yet to be ho­molo­gated so won’t be el­i­gi­ble to fight with the cur­rent crop of Ir­ish Tar­mac fron­trun­ners. This year the R5 car is the quick­est el­i­gi­ble to score points in the se­ries. While WRC cars can win events and com­pete for a WRC Cup, their driv­ers aren’t el­i­gi­ble to be­come Ir­ish Tar­mac Cham­pi­ons. “I’ve been watch­ing the de­vel­op­ment of the car since it was launched,” said Jennings, 2013 Ir­ish Tar­mac cham­pion. “It looks fan­tas­tic and I’ve heard some ex­cel­lent reports. They say it’s great to drive but there’s re­ally only one way to find out. “I know it’s go­ing to be dif­fer­ent from the WRC car I usu­ally use, but I’m look­ing for­ward to find­ing out what the Mi­rage is like and work­ing the team to es­tab­lish a good Ir­ish Tar­mac set up, as well as help­ing them pro­mote the car over here.” some con­cerns. We still want to be part of it but we need cer­tain con­di­tions or it will be very dif­fi­cult. It’s still an op­tion and dis­cus­sions are still go­ing on.”

The BRC and ERC in­ter­sected with suc­cess on the Cir­cuit of Ire­land in April this year.

In ad­di­tion to the 2017 cal­en­dar, BRC heads have also re­leased an up­date to its points sys­tem. The cham­pi­onship will move to the WRC sys­tem im­ple­mented by the FIA, which awards points to the top 10 as fol­lows: 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1. The con­tro­ver­sial ‘joker’ card will re­main but with less im­pact. This year the card dou­bled the num­ber of points scored by a driver on an event of their choos­ing. This cre­ated a large points rift with the driv­ers who won with their joker events and those who didn’t. In­stead driv­ers will score five ex­tra points for a win, down to one point for fifth. They will still have one joker to play per sea­son.

The Isle of Man fi­nale will again be worth dou­ble points, but will be scored over two legs rather than the sin­gle event.

Iain Camp­bell be­lieves di­a­logue be­tween the BRC and its stake­hold­ers should help to im­prove the cham­pi­onship as it con­tin­ues to grow at a fierce pace.

“Hav­ing lis­tened to the com­peti­tors, teams, events and spon­sors, we have a clear un­der­stand­ing of what has worked well this year,” said Camp­bell. “But also the in­creas­ing ex­pec­ta­tions and re­quire­ments as the cham­pi­onship pro­gresses.”

Ral­ly­ing is get­ting faster. Fact. With­out doubt, the cur­rent crop of ral­ly­ing’s top level ma­chin­ery is the fastest we’ve ever wit­nessed on rally stages through­out

Ypres could re­main part of ERC, joins BRC for 2017 Cir­cuit miss­ing in 2017 due to fund­ing is­sue

Jennings will sam­ple up­dated Mit­subishi

Stages were cleaned in Tyneside event

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