Following on from the announcement that the Motor Sports Association’s (MSA) commercial arm, International Motor Sports (IMS), is to run and promote the British Rally Championship (BRC) from 2016 onwards, the MSA has further cemented the championships return, by publishing the championship’s provisional 2016 calendar.
2015 was only the second time that the championship failed to run in a year in the championship’s near 50-year history, the first was a result of the 2001 outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the United Kingdom.
As reported earlier this year on PMW, promoter IMS has also 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 confirmed that from 2016 the BRC will welcome all homologated rally cars, up to and including the R5 class, such as Mpart’s all-new Mirage R5 pictured above (Keep an eye out for the July-August 2015 issue of Professional Motorsport World magazine for the full development story on the Mirage!)
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 has stated that it intends to work closely with sponsors, teams and manufacturers to create meaningful incentives that will retain aspirational drivers in these classes.
Starting in March and concluding in September, the new championship will comprise seven events, of which four are retained from previous years, while three are new or returning rounds of the championship.
The campaign opens with the Mid Wales Stages, using the forests of Myherin and Hafren that form part of the Wales Rally GB. A visit to Belfast after Easter allows crew to test themselves against the FIA European Rally Championship’s top stars on the UK’s second biggest stage rally, the Circuit of Ireland, before returning to Carlisle for the first of four long-standing BRC events, the Pirelli Rally.
Having tackled Kielder over the Bank Holiday weekend, the BRC crews will take on the Borders’ asphalt for the Jim Clark Rally at the end of May. The Scottish Rally occupies its traditional date at the end of June, before an eight-week gap to the championship’s second visit to Northern Ireland for the Ulster Rally in August. The season will conclude with a journey north for the end of year celebrations at the Granite City Rally in Aberdeen.
The inclusion of a made-for-TV one-day special event remains a possibility for 2016, subject to discussions with broadcast partners and securing a suitable venue and date.
“Compiling a brand new calendar has been one of the most challenging aspects of putting the new BRC together; every event and date change has ramifications across the sport and we have tried to be mindful of that,” explained Ben Taylor, managing director of IMS. “We are grateful to all the events that expressed an interest in being involved, either next year or in the future – they have taken a great leap of faith to support what we are trying to achieve.
Now that the calendar has been agreed, Taylor explained that his team’s attention will turn to the remaining aspects of the creation of the new championship.
“Competitors, teams and events need as much notice as possible to get things in place for next year, so we have moved to publish the calendar as early as we can,” he added. “I would like to thank everyone that has played a part so far, as the creation of a new and exciting championship takes a huge amount of work. We are nowhere near finished yet and there are still a lot of things to sort out, like TV and media, one-make championships and prize funds.”