“Two-wheel-drive event could be gravel an­swer”

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - PAUL LAWRENCE

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

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