“We’ll look back on 2016 with a sense of pride”

Motor Sport News - - Brc Review: The First Year - Pho­tos: Jakob Ebrey

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.

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