Across the course of 2016 we’ve been treated to big re­sults, some shock­ing events, waved good­bye to some fa­mil­iar faces, and wel­comed new ones through the re­volv­ing door of mo­tor­sport.

Motor Sport News - - Interview: Chris Haird - By Rob Lad­brook

Some of the head­line ar­rivals across the last 12 months: the new-look Bri­tish Rally Cham­pi­onship, Subaru to the Bri­tish Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship, a teenager called Max who’s taken F1 by storm, and some chap named Loeb who caused quite a stir by join­ing world ral­ly­cross.

Then there’s been the lows: farewells to Audi Sport from Le Mans, Volk­swa­gen from the World Rally Cham­pi­onship, and two of For­mula 1’s most recog­nis­able and like­able char­ac­ters in Felipe Massa and Jen­son Button. And just when you thought it was all over and set­tled, there was Nico Ros­berg’s bomb­shell...

Across the fol­low­ing 10 pages we run down the 50 mo­ments that most de­fined 2016.

If we missed any feel free to let us know at mn.let­ters@hay­mar­

Words by: Matt James, Rob Lad­brook, David Evans, Jack Benyon, Stephen Lick­o­r­ish, Jack Cozens, Hal Ridge and Paul Lawrence.


First it was to be Jaguar Land Rover. Then per­haps Ginetta boss Lawrence Tom­lin­son. Now, Mo­tor­sport Vi­sion or a fourth party? The sale of Sil­ver­stone saga has been a story through­out 2016. It has rum­bled on for months, since ru­mours of JLR’S in­ter­est first sur­faced, but it has re­mained largely in the If you’re Bri­tish, 2016 was a fan­tas­tic year for world ral­ly­ing, with Kris Meeke tak­ing wins in Por­tu­gal and Fin­land in dom­i­nant fash­ion.

But there was even more rea­son to be ex­cited as three Brits fought for the Drive DMACK Fi­esta Tro­phy, which runs on the WRC sup­port bill.

The cham­pi­onship is an ar­rive and drive for­mula for Ford Fi­esta R2TS, and three of the hottest prop­er­ties in world ral­ly­ing were at its fore­front. Bury’s Gus Green­smith ar­rived as 2015 DDFT rookie cham­pion, Welsh­man Osian Pryce was a fron­trun­ner in JWRC the year be­fore and Jon Arm­strong was the surprise pack­age, al­though those back home were aware of his pace.

The three were fan­tas­tic. Arm­strong won in Poland and Spain while Pryce won in Por­tu­gal and Ger­many and took the ti­tle. Green­smith was right with the duo, if not quicker, but suf­fered myr­iad me­chan­i­cal is­sues.

The trio will be ones to watch in the fu­ture. JB

The North­ern Irish have strong form in the Na­tional Hot Rod World Fi­nal and the coun­try added an­other win­ner in 2016 when Crum­lin’s Adam Maxwell landed the big prize af­ter 75 all-ac­tion laps around Fox­hall Heath in Ipswich in July.

The do­mes­tic points cham­pion set the fastest lap dur­ing qual­i­fy­ing to start from pole po­si­tion along­side his North­ern Irish points ri­val Derek Martin. The pair came to blows early on with Maxwell able to con­tinue unchecked.

He was still hav­ing to look to his rearview mir­rors as Shane Murphy was putting him un­der real pres­sure. How­ever, go­ing in to the last third of the event, they got too close.

“It was partly my fault, be­cause I had run wide on the cor­ner be­fore and that gave him the run on me com­ing out of the turn,” said Maxwell. “I was up against the wall, he was in­side me and there was a back­marker on the in­side of the cir­cuit. He had to move out to avoid the back­marker and came across into me. It wasn’t a de­lib­er­ate thing, he was just try­ing to get out of the way.”

De­spite a de­flat­ing tyre, Maxwell held on un­til the end of the race to land a fa­mous vic­tory. MJ

For­mula 1 has come up with some hare-brained ideas over the years in at­tempts to im­prove ‘the show’.

Think Olym­pic-style medals rather than points to de­cide the ti­tle or plans to in­tro­duce ar­ti­fi­cial rain. But one of these schemes that ac­tu­ally came to fruition this year was al­most as ridicu­lous. A new qual­i­fy­ing for­mat was run for the first two races. It still fea­tured three seg­ments, but it was done on an elim­i­na­tion ba­sis with cars con­tin­u­ally on track set­ting lap times to en­sure they weren’t the next one knocked out. That was the the­ory, but in re­al­ity driv­ers would set one lap at the start of each ses­sion and for the fast driv­ers that would be enough to see them through, leav­ing an empty track. “Pretty rub­bish,” was how Mercedes boss Toto Wolff de­scribed it. It was an un­mit­i­gated dis­as­ter and the orig­i­nal for­mat was rein­tro­duced for round three af­ter much out­cry. SL


As you will go on to read, the Bri­tish Rally Cham­pi­onship came back with a bang in 2016.

But on the third round, the se­ries came crash­ing down with a bang in Carlisle. The stages were bril­liant, the ser­vice park was adequate. But drama was brew­ing.

The stages were too fast. Yes, that’s a thing. Gravel ral­lies at na­tional rally are sub­ject to a no­tional time. Driv­ers must not ex­ceed an av­er­age of 70mph on stages or they re­ceive a no­tional time.

Whether the roads hadn’t been con­sid­ered care­fully enough or more chi­canes hadn’t been in­stalled to slow the crews down, the re­sult was devastating. We Not many cham­pi­onships have their roots in Bea­cons­field Ser­vices on the M25, but the Mo­tor­sport News Cir­cuit Rally Cham­pi­onship was mas­sively suc­cess­ful in its first sea­son across 2015-2016.

The premise was sim­ple. Make a cham­pi­onship of sin­gle-venue ral­lies on cir­cuits around the coun­try. Of­fer prizes and let the com­peti­tors roll in. Sounds sim­ple. Turns out it was a huge niche in the rally mar­ket, with rel­a­tively low costs of pre­par­ing and look­ing af­ter the cars.

James Shar­rock proved con­sis­tency is key by steering his Ford Es­cort Mk2 to the ti­tle and a prize bounty of 12 Miche­lin tyres and a free en­try to the open­ing round in 2016.

The sec­ond sea­son is al­ready well un­der­way and pro­vid­ing events even big­ger than the first.

The three-digit en­try lists sold out within 20 min­utes for the first three events of the year.

Not only has the cham­pi­onship proved suc­cess­ful but it’s also helped to boost en­tries for events that weren’t full. Every­one is a win­ner. JB

Af­ter two BRISCA F1 ti­tles and a ca­reer that stretches back more than three decades, Rob Speak de­cided to hang up his short oval crash hel­met at the end of 2016.

But, rather than just step­ping away en­tirely, the legend has de­cided to re­main in the sport by tak­ing over the op­er­a­tion of Skeg­ness Sta­dium. The 44-year-old took con­trol in Septem­ber, just weeks be­fore his last

F1 race at Coven­try. Would it be a bit much to com­pare Eng­land’s com­pet­i­tive re­turn to Bri­tain’s round of the World Rally Cham­pi­onship with Neil Arm­strong walk­ing on the moon? Maybe. A lit­tle bit.

But just as Arm­strong’s small step was a gi­ant leap for mankind, An­drew Kel­litt’s de­ci­sion to slot a dash around Chol­monde­ley Castle on the road back to Dee­side was an enor­mous move for our round of the WRC. Prior to the Cheshire test, it had been 17 years since a stage had been set in the ‘green and pleas­ant land’.

Welsh fund­ing means the event will re­main an­chored in the prin­ci­pal­ity for the next two years, but af­ter that, who knows? Manch­ester and Liver­pool are close enough for the cer­e­monies, the Lakes just about within reach for some com­pe­ti­tion. One thing is sure, the ex­cep­tional pop­u­lar­ity of Chol­monde­ley goes some way to demon­strate the ap­petite that re­mains for world cham­pi­onship level ral­ly­ing in Eng­land. DE

His legacy on the cir­cuits is huge: he has two BRISCA F1 World Fi­nal ti­tles and has won more than 1000 BRISCA F2 events. He had also lifted eight BRISCA F2 World Fi­nal crowns.

“I knew I wanted to step down from driv­ing, but I have al­ways been in­volved in stock cars and I wanted to re­main part of the sport,” said Manch­ester-based Speak. “Tak­ing over Skeg­ness seemed like the ideal way to do it.

“I have lots of plans to up­grade the venue, but I need to sit down with plan­ners and the lo­cal coun­cil to find out what is fea­si­ble. I have a bit to learn, but I have al­ways been around the sport and I will be able to use my ex­pe­ri­ence.” MJ

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