Fabia driver says re­freshed sched­ule makes the se­ries more cost-ef­fec­tive

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - By Ja­son Craig

Desi Henry says that a more cost­ef­fec­tive cal­en­dar and more shared events with the Ir­ish Tar­mac Rally Cham­pi­onship have con­vinced him to re­turn to the Bri­tish Rally Cham­pi­onship next sea­son, af­ter a year out of the se­ries.

Skoda Fabia R5 driver Henry spent his en­ergy on the ITRC and North­ern Ir­ish cham­pi­onship in 2018 af­ter tak­ing de­liv­ery of an up­graded Skoda Fabia ear­lier in the year.

The BRC has dropped the Bor­der Coun­ties, Wales Rally GB and Rally Isle of Man, and added West Cork, Cam­brian Rally and the Gal­loway Hills Rally to its cal­en­dar for 2019.

The BRC and ITRC now share the Ul­ster and the West Cork Rally, mak­ing com­pet­ing in both more log­i­cal.

Cost was one of the un­der­ly­ing rea­sons why Henry made the switch this year, and says he is pleased Bri­tish Rally bosses have acted on his com­ments.

“They have taken some very pos­i­tive steps in my eyes,” Henry told Mo­tor­sport News.

“The changes mean the cham­pi­onship re­quires a bud­get that crews can a) get to­gether and b) af­ford. It’s good to see an event with a pro­file like Wales Rally GB but as far as costs go, it’s be­yond the work­ing man.

“There is some crossover as well be­tween the 2019 Bri­tish and Ir­ish Cham­pi­onships as both the West Cork and Ul­ster ral­lies are a count­ing round of both. That’s re­ally go­ing to ap­peal to a large num­ber of com­peti­tors.

“They have lis­tened to com­peti­tors and they have done a good job.”

Henry says he would’ve con­sid­ered stick­ing with the Ir­ish Tar­mac se­ries, but is frus­trated by World Rally Cars fight­ing for over­all wins when only R5s can score for the ITRC.

Of greater im­por­tance for Henry and fel­low R5 driv­ers, though, is to al­low left-hand-drive R5 cars con­verted to right-hand-drive to score over­all points in the Ir­ish Tar­mac se­ries.

Henry and 2013 Ir­ish Tar­mac Cham­pion, Garry Jen­nings, have been two of the most high-pro­file fig­ures call­ing for the change.

“Now is the time to try and push this through,” said Henry. “I was lucky to get into left-hand-drive early – I know noth­ing else. If we want to in­crease num­bers, and give those in Group N a suitable step up to R5, then we need to pass this rule.

“The pow­ers that be need to be more de­ci­sive. They have been promis­ing us change for a while now and we are no fur­ther for­ward.

“Most are happy with the change, so let’s have it.”

Cur­rently only ho­molo­gated R5 cars can com­pete at the front of the BRC and ITRC. No right-hand-drive ho­molo­gated R5s cur­rently ex­ist, mak­ing the change tricky, es­pe­cially on in­ter­na­tional events.

Pho­tos: Jakob Ebrey, pro-rally.co.uk, Ken­neth Rout­ledge, Kevin Money

Fabia driver has been in ITRC Henry im­pressed by changes

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