BRC CALENDAR CHANGE MID WALES
Scottish event drafted in to replace the cancelled Mid Wales Stages in British series IN OUT BORDER COUNTIES
The opening round of the British Rally Championship – the Mid Wales Stages – has been cancelled amid uncertainty over the costs of rallying in Welsh forests.
The championship will instead open with the Border Counties Rally in Jedburgh in mid-march. The event was shuffled into the championship last Friday on short notice.
The cancellation of the Mid Wales Stages comes amid an ongoing dispute over the fees to rally in Welsh Government-run forests.
An independent campaign named Rally4wales reached a deal with Natural Resources Wales – the government body tasked with taking care of Welsh Government forests – to takeover repair of the roads late in 2016.
But a misunderstanding over VAT costs means certain clubs, including Mid Wales organising club Newtown & District Automobile Club, will have to pay 20 per cent charges on the road repairs carried out by Rally4wales.
Rally4wales and many clubs in Wales are working to alleviate the effects of the VAT rise, but it’s thought that the narrow time frame between now and the Mid Wales event is one of the main contributing factors for curtailing the event. However, some have labelled Rally4wales a ‘scapegoat’ for other troubles facing the event.
A statement from the NDAC read: “Following a meeting of Newtown &
Where to start. It seems that my predictions in MN last week were all askew. It wasn’t that bad in 2016, I declared. And 2017 is looking up. What a horrific start to the year. First off, Mid Wales. It’s a shame the BRC won’t open with two of the best stages in Wales. Scratch that, two of the best stages in the UK. Yes, I’m happy to put my name to that view. The scenes at the stopline of Sweet Lamb/hafren SS1 of Mid Wales last year were palpable. I’m saddened they won’t return.
The reasons behind the cancellation are as foggy as the top of Myherin can be. The statement from the event mentioned the reasons were “due to the current financial uncertainties of running a forest stage event” but organiser Wayne Jones wrote an excellent piece published on the event’s Facebook page giving more insight.
Yes, one of the contributing factors for the club cancelling the event was having to pay the VAT rise with Rally4wales repairing the roads. But, for the few declaring that this is Rally4wales’ fault, bear in mind they’ve single-handedly ended chances of a rise just under 100 per cent. Would you rather a 20 or a 100 per cent rise?
Furthermore, other events in the year should have enough time to work out a solution for the VAT rises, which Rally4wales is working hard on. And – remember – we’re always quick to point out and defend events because they are run by volunteers. Not only is Rally4wales a not-for-profit organisation, but the likes of founder Jamie Edwards, Richard Ceen and organisers of the Welsh Rally Championship have dedicated a monstrous amount of time to making sure the provision was there for rallying to continue with the success of R4W.
I also find the accusation that the BRC is to blame laughable. The fee paid to the BRC is less than four competitor entries. That includes seven people, four scrutineers, championship manager Iain Campbell, a press officer, plus a results service. Not to mention TV production costs, which benefit the promotion of the event.
I respect the Mid Wales decision. This comes down to not knowing how many entries they’d get and not taking the financial risk. Organisers can’t be blamed for that.
All we can hope is that Rally4wales and the clubs in Wales find a VAT solution. Could the BRC open registrations earlier in 2017/18 to give the first event a better chance of knowing entries? It would probably help. But it’s worth bearing in mind that you can register and not do every event…