“Two-wheel-drive event could be gravel answer”
There have just been three gravel rallies in two weekends and a grand total of two Category 1 historic cars have been in action.
The death of pre-1968 cars in historic gravel rallying is just about complete thanks to the changes to event running order.
I probably sound like a stuck record on this, but I know many, many people share my sadness that the baby has been thrown out with the bath water. I can’t think of a section of our sport that has been so utterly decimated by factors entirely out of the control of the competitors and championship organisers.
Over the last two weekends we have had the Cambrian, Riponian and Red Kite rallies. Between them they have hosted the opening rounds of the BTRDA Historic Cup, the Northern Historic Rally Championship and the MSA British Historic Rally Championship and the numbers really do make grim reading.
Only the dogged persistence of Phil Harris (Mini Cooper) and Mike Barrett (Ford Cortina GT) by running on the Red Kite has put any Category 1 cars into the woods at all. Overall, across those three rallies, a total of 66 historics were entered yet only a year ago the Red Kite alone had 59 historics and it wasn’t so long ago that the Robin Hood started close to 100 historics as the BHRC season opener. Clearly, while Category 1 has taken the biggest hit, the rest of historic gravel rallying is slowly, but surely, being dismantled.
So, do we just wring our hands and reminisce about the good old days, or do we get together and try and change things? Well, Lotus Cortina pilot Simon Wallis is a man with some good ideas and he’s set the ball rolling with a Facebook group aimed at galvanising the Category 1 and 1600cc historic crews into action with an initial target of some sort of competitive reunion.
But that’s only the first part of the idea. Maybe, just maybe, there is scope for an event that brings together gravel rallying’s disaffected groups. Just like the historics, the 1400cc modern runners and the Rally First movement have been crushed by the new running order rules which, on the Cambrian, put most of them behind 40 four-wheel drives including a gaggle of R5s.
So, is there an organising club out there prepared to take a punt on a two-wheel-drive rally? Concentrate on historics and 1400s but involve other 2WD cars as well, run it in the spring or summer to get the best of the roads and run it on stages that can offer all crews a viable surface to compete on. Perhaps put a 100-car cap on the entry to ensure everyone gets a decent deal? I just think it might work if all the relevant championships embrace it. What does anyone else think?
Phil Harris’s presence means Cat 1 cars are still around