The promoters of the new-for-2016 MSA British Rally Championship have confirmed that when the series returns to action next year it will feature 4-wheel drive machinery in its leading classes, supported by a strong 2-wheel drive class structure for career-minded drivers.
The announcement made by International Motor Sports (IMS) at the Autosport show at the NEC in Birmingham today, confirmed that from 2016 the BRC will welcome all homologated rally cars, up to and including the R5 class. In addition, an extension of five years can be granted after the expiry of a car’s homologation, further increasing the pool of eligible vehicles to contest what will be the UK’s premier stage rally championship.
Sharing top billing alongside the championship-leading R5s, the 2016 BRC will feature a strong and competitive class structure in the 2-wheel drive categories, in recognition of the championship’s importance as a development environment for young rally drivers – something achieved with great success by the BRC in recent years. This will provide the essential formative training required by those career-minded drivers before they head for international competition and IMS will work closely with sponsors, teams and manufacturers to create meaningful incentives that will retain aspirational drivers in these classes.
Commenting on the announcement, IMS Managing Director Ben Taylor said:
“This is an exciting move and one which will help to establish the BRC as the pinnacle of UK rallying next year. We understand that competitors and teams need to make long-term plans, so we have made this early announcement about vehicle eligibility to give them as much notice as possible about the future.
“The R5 concept was created by the FIA to bring in much needed cost control without compromising on performance. It has been widely adopted throughout the sport, so now seems like the right time to welcome it properly to the UK market. The cars are exciting to drive, great to watch and should provide the perfect excuse for the best drivers to come and test themselves in a championship that is still revered around the world.”
On the importance of the 2-wheel drive classes, MSA Performance Director and 2001 World Rally Champion co-driver Robert Reid said:
“It is clear that the best apprenticeship for young drivers is to learn their trade in the competitive 2-wheel drive classes. It is essential that young drivers understand that they do not have to win the outright championship in order to progress, or try to prove what they can do in an R5 car too early in their careers. So the challenge is to ensure that the incentives for winning in R3 or R2 are great enough to keep them at this level – drivers need to see that it can be an important stepping stone that helps them graduate into ERC Junior or Junior WRC the following year.”
Taylor also announced that experienced event organiser Iain Campbell – Clerk of the Course of the Mull Rally and Deputy Clerk of the Course on Wales Rally GB – will be working with IMS on a freelance basis to assist with preparations for the new championship.
“I am delighted to have been asked,” said Campbell, who also played an important role in the creation of the IRC Rally of Scotland. “The start of the 2016 season may be more than a year away, but there is a huge amount of work to do in the next few months to put things in place. I look forward to making a contribution to the creation of the new championship and bringing a fresh perspective to the challenge.”
Speaking on the main Autosport Stage this morning, Taylor acknowledged the challenge ahead and the importance of getting it right:
“We know that the sport is looking on with interest to see what shape the new BRC is going to take and its success is important for the greater good of UK rallying. Our target is pretty simple: to have the best drivers in the best cars on the best events. We look forward to continuing to work with drivers, event organise