Beebe and Butler Step Up To World Class British Rally Championship 'Stars Of The Future' front runner Matt Beebe and co-driver Ross Butler will join the best rally drivers in the world next week, when they compete in the Wales...
Beebe and Butler Step Up To World Class
British Rally Championship 'Stars Of The Future' front runner Matt Beebe and co-driver Ross Butler will join the best rally drivers in the world next week, when they compete in the Wales Rally of Great Britain, the UK's round of the World Rally Championship. The event will be the biggest challenge for the crew, with both Matt and Ross in only their second season of competition.
Matt and Ross began their respective rally careers on the same event, although in different cars. However, following the decision for Ross to part company with previous driver Stuart Jones, he has successfully partnered Matt, the reigning MG Scholarship Champion, as he seeks to clinch the 2005 'Stars of The Future' category of the British Rally Championship. Matt is currently leading the 1400cc class and is second overall, while he has already claimed the 2005 MG X-Power Challenge, with five wins from five starts.
"Because Ross and I started our rallying careers at the same time, it's been very useful to develop our skills and experience together," explains Matt. "We settled into the relationship quite quickly and we get on very well. Out of the car, we're good friends and in the car, it's great."
Matt and Ross' entry in Wales Rally of Great Britain is subsidised as part of Matt's prize for winning the 2004 MG Scholarship, enabling them to compete alongside the world's best. The feasibility is further helped by the reduced entry fee offered to crews entering under amateur status by the organisers. "I think it's very important that amateurs get the chance to compete in this rally," said Matt. "I grew up watching the Rally of Great Britain in the forests and like many others, was fascinated to watch the different driving styles. I think allowing amateurs to compete can only improve the prospect for spectators and the event as a whole."
Commenting on the upcoming event, Nuneaton-based Matt said, "It's always been my dream to compete in the UK's round of the WRC and when the opportunity came up, it was too good to miss. This is only my second season of rallying and there's still so much to learn. For example, we'll be doing the full recce and making our own pace notes, which will be a new experience. We'll also be able to refine the way we work over the course of the event. For example, if we try something on leg one and it works, then we can adopt the same for the following legs. The same goes for the car - we will get the chance to try different set-ups but with the opportunity to revert if they don't work.
"All the events Ross and I have done so far have been either single or two days but with total mileages around the same as those for just one leg of Rally GB. And there are three legs in total! We don't have the budget to go testing, so I've been concentrating on developing my fitness and concentration skills, in the gym and on my mountain bike, to make sure I can stay focussed for the duration of the event.
"The target for us is to get to the end of the rally and get as much experience as possible. However, we know from our results this year that we are competitive in the N1 class, so hopefully we can win that, and perhaps raise a few eyebrows too!
"I think the toughest part will be the condition of the roads by the time we get to them - we're running quite low-down the order and therefore, there will have been a lot of cars over the stages by the time we get there. Rheola, for example, was used on the Swansea Bay Rally, which we did recently, and that was quite badly cut up for the later runners, with fewer cars ahead of us."
Burgess Hill-based co-driver Ross Butler is also relishing the challenge that Wales Rally GB will provide. "It's going to be incredible, I'm sure," he said. "It's our first WRC event, so there's a lot to get my head around. However, from a co-drive'rs perspective, the planning and organisation are the same, irrespective of the car you're in. We know it's going to be a tough event, with both of us having to maintain our performance and stamina for a much longer period that we've been used to so far. But it will be excellent experience to take forward as we are finalising our plans for next season.
"I did a training course with David Senior [co-driver to Alister McRae and Hamid Al Wahibi] prior to the event and have to say, he was an inspiration. It was an enormous help, in terms of my development, for this event and for those in the future. I'm looking forward to putting the principles he taught me into practice."
Wales Rally of Great Britain is the 12th round of the 2005 FIA World Rally Championship and takes place in southern Wales. The event headquarters are located in the city of Cardiff but the rally itself will be centred around the service area at Felindre, just outside Swansea. The action takes place over some of the most famous stages in rallying, such as Rheola, Epynt and Margam Park and the crews will begin their campaign with a ceremonial start at the world-famous Millennium Stadium on the evening of Thursday 15th September. They will then spend three days at full speed on the gravel stages, before the first cars reach the finish, again at the Millennium Stadium, on Sunday 18th September.