“We’ll look back on 2016 with a sense of pride”
Not so long ago the British Rally Championship was something you didn’t really shout about around the WRC service park. Actually, we barely even talked about it. If anything, it was like a dirty little secret that maybe you whispered about to your mates once in a blue moon while sharing a sneaky fag behind the Hyundai behemoth. This once great championship was reduced to something little short of an embarrassment. No flame spitting, barking and bucking four-wheel drives, no TV coverage of any note, no real manufacturer interest, no apparent direction, no future and, quite frankly, no interest and no hope!
Fast forward to the BRC of 2016 and what a transformation...
It’s easy to look back and say that the MSA had no choice but to give the BRC a sabbatical. It had hit rock bottom and was teetering on the edge of oblivion. But I’ll tell you this – in the early days there was no clear master plan of how to reinvigorate the championship. I sat in on a number of the initial meetings to plan for the bright new dawn of the BRC. And I came away from all but one of those meetings seriously questioning what I’d got myself involved in. It was little short of chaotic with absolutely no consensus on the best way forward. The task was enormous and the spectre of failure was real and frightening.
But the apparent chaos and lack of direction was all part of the rebuilding process. Ben Taylor, the boss of championship promoter IMS, although occasionally flustered, never seemed too stressed. After a bit of dithering he perhaps made his shrewdest move and appointed the vastly experienced, completely unflappable, and most importantly, logistically savvy Iain Campbell to oversee the project.
From that point on, what was for most of us hopeful optimism, turned into startlingly exciting reality! A well-balanced calendar appeared, the R5 category was embraced, sensible regulations were written, and maybe the biggest surprise/relief of all – top quality entries came rolling in. And to top all of that, Ben Taylor went out on a limb, splashed the cash and secured terrestrial TV coverage for the BRC for the first time in a long time.
Yes, there have been issues along the way, but there is no doubt we will look back on the 2016 BRC with a tremendous sense of pride and satisfaction. From the talk around the WRC service park, and it’s loud and unabashed talk, the BRC is now the place to be outside of the WRC. It’s back in its rightful place, seen as a positive stepping stone to the highest levels. Complacency is tempting mistress, but with Campbell and Taylor at the helm I can only see good times ahead for a championship that has real momentum.