Carlisle: Series preview

MSA BRITISH TEAMS CHAMPIONSHIP The 2007 MSA Teams' title was won by Mitsubishi Motors UK in 2007 and they return to defend their crown on the opening Pirelli International Rally with a two car team. 2007 Champion Guy Wilks is joined by ...


The 2007 MSA Teams' title was won by Mitsubishi Motors UK in 2007 and they return to defend their crown on the opening Pirelli International Rally with a two car team. 2007 Champion Guy Wilks is joined by Philip Morrow, having won the prize drive through victory on the Evo Challenge.

Runners up in the 2007 teams' championship Atlas TEG Sport also return, their driver line-up including Swede Patrik Flodin and Welshman Wyn Humphreys, the latter briefly leading the drivers' championship in his rookie year. They will field a brace of new Impreza N14s, although their late arrival will mean a one-off appearance by the earlier cars for the opening round.

A brace of new Subaru Impreza N14s is also expected at the hands of 2004 BRC winner David Higgins and team owner Hugh Evans. They are joined in Team by non-points scoring youngster Nick Rowland, who will pilot a Suzuki in the inaugural Swift Sport Cup

For the first time the newly formed Revolution Wheels Rally Team will run a three car team too. The driver line-up will be headed by BRC regular Rob Swann, he and team-mate Karl Simmons driving Subaru Imprezas, but while he will not score in the Teams' championship on the Pirelli, Wozencroft joins the team as the third driver.


Darren Gass was the 2007 MSA British Junior Rally Champion but he moves aside this year. Limited to two wheel drive, the Juniors are buoyed by an influx of new youngsters, the youngest now being Rowland who is still just 18.


Although the FIA has still not fully adopted the Rally 1, 2, 3 and 4 class structure, these categories were successful for the BRC in 2007 and this format will continue with a couple of amendments.

In a change from 2007 and in line with the FIA's latest proposals, the Rally 3 class will now encompass turbo diesels, while Suzuki's one make Swift Sports will move from R2 to R1. The Citroen C2 will be the foundation of the Rally 2 class, but competition has already been entered in the form of an N3 Ford Fiesta from British Rally Elite newcomer Adam Gould and the reigning BRC Stars Champion Luke Pinder will be seen in a 1400cc kit Ford Puma.

The head of the field is likely to be occupied by the Rally 4 class which incorporates traditional turbocharged and normally aspirated Super 2000 cars. Super 1600 runs under the R3 banner, where Brian O'Mahony will return to the BRC to retake his 2005 class title in a Clio, a top five result not out of the question.


The BRC's Citroen C2R2 Cup is now in its second year and has already attracted new and existing competitors to the series. With the support of Belfast 's Charles Hurst Motors, it will be a big step forward from 2007, with 1750 GPB available on each round in addition to the BRC class fund. The 1600cc Rally 2 class cars' specification remains unchanged from 2007.

The overall prize for the C2R2 Cup winner at the end of six qualifying rounds of the BRC will be a place at the Citroen Sport shootout to decide a supported drive on a round of the 2009 JWRC. Six cars are expected to contest the Pirelli Rally, with some new faces joining the fray in these front wheel drive flyers.


This six round manufacturer-backed one make series will contest the first five events in the BRC plus the Tempest Rally. Similar in format to the Citroen series, it will see drivers battling in identical Suzuki Swifts built by Suzuki Sport. The 1600cc Rally 1 class front wheel drive cars will be the same specification as the ones used on the BRC last year by 2006 S1600 Champion, James Wozencroft and 2007 Irish N1 Champion Lorna Smith.

The Swift Sport Cup is part of the Suzuki's five year world wide marketing campaign and the UK series will be featured in a half hour stand alone TV Series on Sky Sports. In addition to the cash prize fund to be won on each rally, the overall winner will have the option of a fully-funded drive on the 2008 Wales Rally GB in a Suzuki Swift S1600 car. Alternatively a brand new Swift Sport road car and a fully-funded WRGB drive in their own Suzuki Swift Sport Cup car is available.


Once again there will be opportunities for diesel cars to compete in the BRC, the competition in the Diesel Rally Cup likely to be between Steve Graham's Vauxhall Astra and Fin McCaul's BMW power. In the Privateers Cup the competition is designed to motivate those who are not part of the Teams battle, opening the door for smaller outfits and individuals to be rewarded.


The concept of the Pirelli sponsored initiative was to assist talented drivers to progress and prove their potential, with a view to moving up in the sport. In 2007 the prize of a fully funded drive in the BRC was realised by 19 year old Darren Gass, following a rigorous selection process.

The scheme, which continues in 2008, still allows any registered BRC driver, irrespective of class or nationality, to be eligible for the scheme. It will choose one person from each of the six events to go forward to the end of season Pirelli Star Driver Shootout. A team of adjudicators will be appointed to evaluate and nominate the candidate who will be presented with the Pirelli "Yellow Jersey" at the finish of the event.

In addition to this, the highest placed junior drivers in both the Citroen C2R2 and Suzuki Swift Sport Cups will also take part in a final selection competition, when the winner will secure a fully funded drive in the 2009 BRC. The 2007 prize of an Evo 9 was deemed an appropriate step up for young Darren, but the prize car will be announced depending on the eventual winner's aptitude and experience.


The Pirelli International threw up a surprise for triple BRC champion Mark Higgins in 2007 when Wilks tore up the rule book. But with the series attracting even more scintillating talent, those rules are there to be broken again, in what promises to be one of the British Rally Championship's vintage years.

The BRC's half century kicks off in Carlisle City centre from where the cars head to the infamous Kielder forest complex. Friday evening's dark stages will help sort the pack, crews who make it through the murk emerging on Saturday for a full day's rallying. They return to Carlisle on Saturday evening for the now traditional finish ramp celebrations.


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About this article
Series BRC
Drivers Mark Higgins , Guy Wilks , David Higgins
Teams Citroën World Rally Team