Historic Motorsport Round-up: Rally 2WD hits flying start

Rally 2WD recieved an overwhelmingly positive response following its North Wales season-opener last weekend

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The historic rallying fraternity gave an overwhelmingly positive response to the new Rally 2WD format as the season opened on Rally North Wales on Saturday.

The MSA British Historic Rally Championship kicked off with 60 registered contenders, the highest number since the changes to event running order and more than twice the number on the opening round of 2017.

The biggest field of Category 1 (pre-1968) cars for around five years lined up in Dolgellau, including Porsche 911 driver Dessie Nutt who pulled out of his last gravel rally in 2016 after just two stages due to poor road conditions.

'If gravel rallying is going to be like this, I’ll be back,' said Nutt despite an early retirement when the Porsche slid off the road without damage.

Ford Escort Mk2 driver Steve Ward joined the BHRC regulars for the first time. 'The stages were amazing and it’s right that we support Rally 2WD.'

Having only done two rallies in 2017 due to road conditions, Robin Shuttleworth fielded his 1600cc Escort Mk1. 'We loved it: the stages were great. Well done to everyone with the Rally 2WD format.'

Guy Weaver, chairman of the event organising Wolverhampton and South Staffs Car Club, was delighted with a capacity entry of 120 cars and a commercially viable rally. 'I believe it was a massive success and justified our decision to go with the Rally 2WD format.'

The BHRC continues with round two, the Pirelli Rally (April 28), which also runs the two-wheel drive cars first over all single-use stages.

BTCC at 60

The 60th anniversary of the British Touring Car Championship will be marked by a cavalcade of iconic cars and former champions at the Silverstone Classic.

The parade on the event’s Tin Top Sunday will include the first and most recent title winners: an Austin Westminster and a Subaru Levorg.

Former BTCC champions will be there and several could be racing over the weekend, including John Cleland, Jason Plato, Tim Harvey, Matt Neal, Colin Turkington and Andrew Jordan.

\We are delighted that the Silverstone Classic is saluting the BTCC’s diamond anniversary with what’s clearly going to be a magnificent gathering of stars and cars from the past 60 years,' said Alan Gow of the BTCC.

Barrett’s late dash rewarded

Northern Irishman Paul Barrett was one of the stars of Rally North Wales in a freshly built Ford Escort Mk2.

After the briefest of tests on Friday morning in the BDG-powered car, Barrett and Dai Roberts finished as the third historic crew and Barrett said there should be more pace to come once the car is properly sorted.

Barrett starred in the 2016 BHRC in a Pinto-engined Mk2, now being used by Josh Browne, and sat out 2017 while building the new and more powerful car.

'We really only started it about six weeks before Christmas and we had a huge rush last week. I drove it out of the workshops, into the trailer and straight to the ferry in Dublin,' said Barrett.

'We made the ferry with minutes to spare. It’s run in now but we’ve still got a lot of things to do.'

Sumpter and Jordan back together

Porsche expert Mark Sumpter will renew an old partnership with Mike Jordan in the new 2.0L Cup for classic Porsche 911s this season.

Sumpter and Jordan shared Porsches in the British and FIA GT Championships 20 years ago but will now race a pre ’66 911 in the European one-model series being organised by Peter Auto.

'It is an ex-rally car I bought in an auction,' said Sumpter of the base car, which has been taken back to its original slate gray colour and is now immaculate. Sumpter gave the car a debut race at the Goodwood Members’ Meeting.

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Rowley takes an Escort

Historic single-seater racer and preparer Iain Rowley will race a Group 1 Ford Escort Mk1 RS2000 in the model’s 50th anniversary celebration races at Brands Hatch in September.

For Rowley, it will mark a return to his roots as his first experience of on-track driving was in an Escort at the Brands Hatch racing school in 1972.

Rowley, best known for his work on period single-seaters, bought the bare shell about 15 years ago and then stored it at the back of his workshop.

'When the 50th anniversary race was announced I decided to get it out and finish building it,' said Rowley. 'I tested it at Mallory recently and loved it.'

Datsun visits Dyfi

Datsun 240Z driver Graham Patten returned to gravel rallying for the first time in 32 years on Rally North Wales. The Dorset drivers last gravel rally was the Chieftain Rally on Salisbury Plain in 1986 at the wheel of an Audi Quattro. He had never driven the Dyfi forest complex before, but was forced to retire at service after the first leg of stages.

Historic rally stars pull out

Three of the top 10 historic seeds on Rally North Wales had to withdraw their entries close to the rally. Pressure of work commitments forced Matthew Robinson to pull out on the eve of the rally, while late engine issues sidelined Joe Price and Rudi Lancaster. All three drivers hope to kick start their BHRC campaigns on round two, the Pirelli Rally on April 28.

The passing of John Lord

We are sad to report the death of Formula Junior racer John Lord after a battle against cancer. He raced a Lotus 18 with success, winning class C2 in the Lurani Trophy in 2015 and again in 2017. John also tried his hand at Formula 2 last year with an immaculate Ralt RT1. AutoClassics offers sincere condolences to his family and many friends across the sport.

Slaughter returns

Dick Slaughter made a fine return to gravel rallying after a four-year sabbatical to take fourth in class on Rally North Wales. The hugely experienced Kent driver was tempted back into his Ford Escort Mk1 by Rally 2WD and reported a fantastic day in the Welsh forests with Tim Sayer on the notes.

Historic F2 new faces

A crop of fresh cars and new drivers are due to race in the Historic Sports Car Club Historic F2 Series this season, including Daniel Clayfield who has recently tested his March 722. This is the ex-John Calvert Formula Atlantic car. Meanwhile, coming from Australia is the March 76B of Peter Brennan, a respected member of the Australian racing fraternity.

Tuthill 911 convert

Porsche racer Anthony Galliers-Pratt switched disciplines over the weekend to tackle two rallies in a Porsche 911 from Tuthill Porsche. Co-driven by Peter Lythell, Galliers-Pratt is contesting four rallies in a month to get licence upgrading signatures before taking on some longer events. He took part in both Rally North Wales and the Caerwent Stages at the weekend.

Busy Grahame Standen Motorsport

Six cars built and prepared by Grahame Standen Motorsport were running on Rally North Wales. Standen, who works solo at his workshop in Kent, was responsible for the major work on the Escorts of James Potter, Chris Browne, Josh Browne, Dick Slaughter, James Slaughter and Paul Holmes on the opening BHRC round.

Images courtesy of Paul Lawrence and LAT

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