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