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Wales Rally GB 2020 - and BRC Cancelled

Rally fans, particularly British, have recently had two devastating announcements to cope with!
Following the first which was the cancellation of Wales Rally GB - due to host two rounds of the 2020 British Rally Championship and pull the series back from the brink - Motorsport UK decided on Tuesday 9 June to announce that it will not continue the 2020 BRC season due to the uncertainty created by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Britain's premier rallying series got underway in February with the best drivers in the country representing M-Sport Ford, Hyundai and Proton on the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally.

To date, the Cambrian Rally is the only round to take place this season as the Clonakility Park Hotel West Cork Rally, Corbeau Seats Rally Tendring & Clacton and Today's Ulster Rally have all postponed their events until 2021 due to the virus. We now await the plans for the series going forward into 2021 season.

22nd June, 2020

2020 British Rally Championship Cancelled

Following the cancellation of Wales Rally GB - which this year was due to host two rounds of the British Rally Championship, Motorsport UK made the difficult decision on Tuesday 9 June to announce that it will not continue the 2020 BRC season due to the uncertainty created by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Britain's premier rallying series got underway in February with the best drivers in the country representing M-Sport Ford, Hyundai and Proton on the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally.

To date, the Cambrian Rally is the only round to take place this season as the Clonakility Park Hotel West Cork Rally, Corbeau Seats Rally Tendring & Clacton and Todays Ulster Rally have all postponed their events until 2021 due to the virus.

12th June, 2020

2020 British Rally Championship Review

So far, just one round of the 2020 British Rally Championship has taken place with reigning champion Matt Edwards claiming the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally victory by 38.4 seconds from Osian Pryce/Noel O'Sullivan in second and Rhys Yates/James Morgan in third. This was the best possible start for double champion Edwards and set him up nicely for a hat-trick season in his latest M-Sport Mk2 Ford Fiesta R5 sponsored by Swift Caravans and new for this season, Yuasa batteries.

Next round of the championship was supposed to be the Clonikilty Park West Cork Rally 14-15th March but this fell exactly the time at which the Coronavirus crisis clicked-up to Severe, and as a result, the event was cancelled at the eleventh hour even though many competitors and fans had already assembled in and around the rally's base in Clonikilty.

Following the formal declaration of Lockdown together with Motorsport UK's withdrawal of all event permits until 30th June, the Tendring & Clacton club's Corbeau Seats rally 25-26th April was also cancelled and at the time of writing, the decision has just been taken to postpone round 3, the Renties Ypres Rally 25-27th June, possibly to later in the year. In the meantime, organizers announced that the Today's Ulster Rally 21-22nd August is postponed until 2021 to protect the health of spectators, competitors, and officials. The final round of the series is the Armstrong Galway Hills Rally 19th September, but no decision has been made regarding the future the 2020 edition yet.

When this all shakes out it means that if the Ypres and Galway Hills rallies run later this year, the championship with have at best three rounds, but there is always the backstop of Wales Rally GB being included as the 2020 series finale. Some have already said that the depleted championship should now be cancelled, as it is devalued by anything less than a 6-round championship, but for many the burning question remains, when is a championship not a championship in order to make it worthwhile to win?

Throughout the years, rallying has overcome all manner of adversities including foot & mouth disease, fuel shortages, wars, and political conflicts but championships won in these circumstances have been valued against the difficulties prevailing. COVID-19 is just the latest of these challenges from which rallying will recover, so as long as there are at least 3 events, why not just run the championship?

2020 BRC Championship Standings after one round
1st - Matt Edwards / Darren Garrod - 25
2nd - Osian Pryce / Noel O'Sullivan - 18
3rd - Rhys Yates / James Morgan - 15
4th - Ollie Mellors / Ian Windress - 14
5th - James Williams / Dai Roberts - 10
6th - Tom Cave / Dale Furniss - 8
7th - Tom Williams / Jamie Edwards - 6
8th - William Creighton / Liam Regan - 4
9th - Finlay Retson / Rhys Stoneman - 2
10th - David Kelly / Darragh Kelly - 1

29th May, 2020

Adventure & Mystery on the Monte Carlo Rally


During the 1983 Monte Carlo Rally, John and Hywel Thomas crashed their Renault 5 Turbo at night while speeding across the flying finish of an alpine stage. The car then left the road and dropped down a bank, destroying the suspension and some lower panel work. After the accident, a helpful but over-enthusiastic French spectator kindly offered to drive John back down the mountain but after a few frantic corners, the hapless driver rolled his Renault 5 road car spectacularly, completely destroying it but fortunately injuring only his no-claims bonus!

John's close friend Alun Morgan, who was driving a Rover SD1 Chase Car, was miles from the crash scene and when they did not arrive at the agreed service rendezvous - pre cell phone days and their two-way radios had proved ineffective in the mountains - he set off briskly and drove through the preceding three stages until he found them. It was daylight by this time, the roads were open as most marshals had left.

Alun then effected temporary repairs to the damaged rally car so it could be driven off the mountain stage to the nearest village and stored with a helpful garage owner. John and Hywel then got into the chase car, which was fitted with studded tyres, but later on the dry motorway, a front tyre blew at speed and the Rover careered wildly over the carriageway until Alun managed to bring it to a safe halt. John had escaped from three major incidents within a few hours physically unscathed!

On the last night of the rally, John and his disappointed team walked up the Col du Turini stage with its low walls, big drops, drunk spectators and few safe spectator points to watch the final 100 cars pass through. The following day Hywel Thomas and John flew back to the UK as Hywel had injured his back in the accident. John's brother Denzil, Alun and Bob Jones went to the rally's black-tie prize giving ceremony before driving the SD1 home later that weekend.

On Friday, the damaged Renault Turbo was collected by the service van and trailer but to this day, they simply do not know how they ever found that small, obscure country garage again. Bob Fowden, Derrick Davies and Steve Lloyd then drove non-stop to Hereford and dropped the car at John's Wormbridge garage and from there to Swansea. Between the south of France and Swansea they had stopped only for fuel, ferry and at Maidstone to buy 2 new trailer tyres. They athletically changed drivers whilst on the move with just two of the three passengers driving and the third watching the map and keeping the drivers awake. They were physically wrecked and slept for days!

Mysteriously, after the accident there was a spent bullet found amongst the damaged parts stripped from the wrecked rally car and John had always wondered if someone had shot-out his tyre, causing them to crash. This has still never been explained thirty-seven years later, but the bullet was genuine, and it always made a good story - perhaps even a worthy plot for a new Agatha Christie type who-done-it?

4th May, 2020

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