29 IRISH TAR­MAC RALLY CHAM­PI­ONSHIP RE­VAMP WORKS WHEN: ALL SEA­SON WHERE: IRE­LAND

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Irish Tar­mac Cham­pi­onship or­gan­is­ers’ de­ci­sion to rel­e­gate WRC cars to a ‘Cup’ and not al­low them to win the cham­pi­onship out­right was met with some dis­con­tent. R5s aren’t as spec­tac­u­lar, they said. There won’t be much up­take, they said. How wrong.

The bosses could have spent the rest of the year say­ing ‘I told you so’. In­stead, they got on with mak­ing sure the se­ries worked. And boy did it.

Go­ing into the last round, the Cork 20, on the last stage four driv­ers had the chance of the ti­tle. There were reg­u­larly double figures of R5s and it pro­vided the en­tries and the com­pe­ti­tion that the se­ries had lacked. Tre­ble Bri­tish cham­pion Keith Cronin took the ti­tle, and the signs look positive for a strong sec­ond sea­son in 2017. JB

WHEN: APRIL 14, 2017 WHERE:

The fu­ture of the Grand Old Lady of short oval rac­ing, Wim­ble­don Sta­dium, had been un­der threat all sea­son.

De­vel­op­ers had come up with a plan to re­turn AFC Wim­ble­don to a home in the bor­ough, and had identified the Plough Lane site as their venue.

They put for­ward a scheme to knock down the sta­dium and re­build the venue as a business park, homes and a foot­ball ground.

Short oval fans im­me­di­ately be­gan to rally them­selves, and cre­ated a pe­ti­tion and took it to the then mayor of Lon­don Boris John­son, who promised to call in the ap­pli­ca­tion for re­view.

For a while, it looked like peo­ple power could win the day.

How­ever, a po­lit­i­cal change hap­pened in May when Labour’s Sadiq Khan was elected as mayor, and he re­verted the power in the plan­ning po­si­tion back to Mer­ton Coun­cil. De­spite all the leg work done by the pro­test­ers, their cam­paign had failed, de­spite a late-sea­son trip to Down­ing Street.

Or­gan­iser Spede­worth has put to­gether a ros­ter of races for the early part of 2017, but they have been told to va­cate the venue by April 14. MJ Scott Mo­ran’s march to a sixth Bri­tish Hil­lclimb Cham­pi­onship was hardly earth-shat­ter­ing news. He had bat­tled with Trevor Wil­lis and Wal­lace Men­zies through­out the year, but 19 wins across the 34 rounds of the sea­son marked a com­fort­able sea­son for the Gould GR61X driver.

Mo­ran and his fam­ily run a mo­torhome and car­a­van park business, which means he is forced to miss rounds dur­ing the course of the sea­son to cope with work de­mands. This year he opted out of four events, and yet still had a 23-point buf­fer at the end of the year.

But per­haps even more im­pres­sive was his win in the open­ing round at Prescott in early Septem­ber. He headed Men­zies and Wil­lis for the best time dur­ing round 29 of the cham­pi­onship, which marked his 150th ca­reer vic­tory in the top flight. Mo­ran truly is a gi­ant in the modern hill­climb­ing world. MJ Given the mas­sive pop­u­lar­ity ral­ly­ing en­joys across the length and breadth of the Emerald Isle, it’s as­ton­ish­ing that Craig Breen is the first Ir­ish­man to se­cure a full-time drive in a World Rally Cham­pi­onship fac­tory team.

For any­body who knows Craig, it’s no surprise that he’s reached such sta­tus. Born into the sport, he’s made it his life, and his life’s ambition was re­alised in October when Citroen team prin­ci­pal Yves Mat­ton gave him the keys to a C3 WRC for next sea­son.

Mat­ton’s choice was, no doubt, in­flu­enced by Craig’s rock-solid Swedish DS 3 WRC de­but and a speedy sev­enth in Poland. But it was Fin­land where the deal was done. On only his third out­ing in the car, Breen was an in­cred­i­ble third on the fastest and most dif­fi­cult rally of the sea­son to learn. He and co-driver Scott Martin have earned their place. Now they have to paint a pic­ture on the blank can­vas they’ve been given. DE

The I-type 1 should prob­a­bly join the likes of the D-type or XJR-14 in Jaguar folk­lore, but not for quite the same rea­sons.

The In­dian-owned Bri­tish man­u­fac­turer’s first at­tempt at an elec­tric rac­ing pow­er­train has more in com­mon with the ill-fated, R-badged For­mula 1 ef­forts of the early noughties. But it rep­re­sents some­thing big­ger than the For­den­forced grand prix en­try: the fu­ture. Jaguar ended its 12-year ab­sence from ma­jor in­ter­na­tional mo­tor­sport in the 2016/17 For­mula E sea­son opener in Hong Kong, but its min­i­mal­ist ex­pec­ta­tions proved sen­si­ble. A com­pro­mised, some­what hur­ried ap­proach to its pow­er­train – that’s the mo­tor, gear­box and in­verter – meant Jaguar’s in­au­gu­ral FE effort was al­ways likely to be un­der­stated, and Adam Car­roll’s 12th-place fin­ish was proof of that. But the Big Cat is back, and much more is ex­pected once it has re­ally sunk its claws into the tech­no­log­i­cal devel­op­ment FE has to of­fer. SM

Honda has al­ways used mo­tor­sport to push the bound­aries of devel­op­ment, and it treats its Bri­tish Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship pro­gramme no dif­fer­ently.

That meant, at the start of the 2016 sea­son, there was plenty of work for Team Dy­nam­ics, which op­er­ates the fac­tory Honda pro­gramme, to be get­ting on with. Honda wanted the new ver­sion of the Civic Type-r pow­er­plant with the in­take man­i­fold in­cluded in the en­gine block to be de­vel­oped for rac­ing. The team headed to Spain for a busy pre-sea­son test pro­gramme for driv­ers Matt Neal and reign­ing cham­pion Gor­don Shed­den.

There were ini­tial fears about heat soak in the en­gine, but they were quickly al­layed. But there was also an is­sue with con­trol­ling the level of turbo boost the en­gine was gen­er­at­ing, and that proved a tougher nut to crack. It meant the team had to turn down the power at var­i­ous points to make sure that it stayed within the rules.

That, al­lied to bad luck, meant Shed­den started the sec­ond half of the sea­son 52 points adrift of the sum­mit. He grad­u­ally clawed back the ground and, with a mid-race move in the fi­nal round of the sea­son, the Scots­man passed ti­tle ri­val Sam Tord­off ’s BMW 125i M Sport to seal a sec­ond crown in a row. It was a tri­umph all round. MJ

driver to beat, and 20 years on from his fa­ther, Gwyn­daf, win­ning the ti­tle on the Ul­ster Rally in a Ford, El­fyn achieved the same feat.

On the same rally, one of the quick­est and most spec­tac­u­lar rises to promi­nence oc­curred when Rob Duggan sealed the Ju­nior ti­tle and a sub­sidised en­try into a World Rally Cham­pi­onship sup­port class. What a dif­fer­ence a year makes. There were hic­cups along the way. The events strug­gled to cope with the strain of a prom­i­nent na­tional cham­pi­onship ap­pear­ing out of nowhere af­ter run­ning smaller na­tional events in re­cent years.

But over­all, the sea­son was a huge success, with the com­bi­na­tion of BRC, Euro­pean and Irish Tar­mac cham­pi­onships on the Cir­cuit of Ire­land pro­vid­ing a ma­jor high­light.

Now, to re­peat the feat in 2017. A hard act to fol­low. JB

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