A lack of entries for Saturday’s opening round of the British Rally Championship – the Cambrian Rally – has forced the event’s service park out of Llandudno and caused the cancellation of two stages.
The final two stages for round one of the BRC have been lopped from the itinerary for the North Welsh event, which had been expected to service on the same streets as Britain’s round of the World Rally Championship.
Budget restrictions mean the North Welsh event will leave Llandudno and set up service in a college around the coast in Rhos-on-Sea.
Despite the drop in mileage, BRC championship manager Iain Campbell remains upbeat about the battle ahead this year.
He told DirtFish: “With over 100 entries, it’s easy to see that the first forest event in the UK is popular. The organisers have worked hard to make the same stages as the WRC stars use on Rally GB available to everyone but somehow the financial model hasn’t stacked up for them. They’ve had to make last minute changes to their format.
“What is guaranteed is that the competition will be fierce. Who will come out on top? Matt Edwards, Tom Cave, Rhys Yates, Osian Pryce, Ollie Mellors or some of the wildcards making their R5 debuts?”
The Cambrian Rally starts from Llandudno at 0901 and finishes back in the town after seven stages – including such classics as Gwydyr, Penmachno and the all-asphalt headland Great Orme test – at 1543. Service is in Coleg Llandrillo, Rhos-on-Sea at 1223.
Further details are available here
Edwards chasing history
Ford Fiesta R5 MkII driver Edwards starts the year chasing what would be a historic hat-trick in Britain’s premier series.
Success over this year’s six-round series would make the Llandudno-based driver the first person ever to win three British titles in a row.
Jimmy McRae stood on the verge of a hat-trick twice, in 1983 and 1989, but was foiled on both occasions by four-wheel drive machinery ranged against his own rear-wheel drive mount – in ’83 by Stig Blomqvist’s Audi Quattro A2 and six years later by David Llewellin’s Toyota Celica GT-Four.
Bill Bengry missed out in 1962; Tony Fisher in 1964; Roger Clark in 1974; Mark Higgins in 2007; Johnny Milner in 2004 and Keith Cronin in 2011. Colin McRae, Llewellin and Guy Wilks all won two titles, but didn’t compete regularly in the British series the following season.
Who can challenge Edwards?
Campbell’s listed the main players. Cave’s been given simple and straightforward advice from Hyundai Motorsport director Andrea Adamo.
Adamo told DirtFish: “I like this guy, but he made too many mistakes last year and I told him that. This year, less mistakes and he can win the championship.”
Cave has already completed some of the development testing on the i20 R5 and comes into the season better prepared than ever to go one better than the second place he managed last season.
M-Sport Ford driver Rhys Yates is another strong contender. The Chesterfield star is a busy man this season, dovetailing his WRC2 commitments with the factory squad with a full BRC programme.
Yates said: “I love the BRC. I love the rallies and everything about it.
“Obviously they’re not as long as the WRC rounds, so I need to be up and at them straight away; I need to be on it from the first corner.”
Ollie Mellors is the dark horse, coming to the series with a Proton Iriz R5 rated highly by none other than two-time world champion Marcus Grönholm, who tested the MEM machine recently.
Returning Welshman Osian Pryce (Hyundai i20 R5) and BRC top flight new boys Josh McErlean (Hyundai i20 R5) and James Williams (Proton Iriz R5) will also be in contention.
The season ahead
February 8: Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally
March 14-15: Clonakilty Park West Cork Rally
April 25-26: Corbeau Seats Rally Tendring & Clacton
June 25-27: Renties Ypres Rally
August 21-22: Today’s Ulster Rally
September 19: Armstrong Galloway Hills Rally