The 2023 British Rally Championship Calendar was released this week and the new-look roster has been highly regarded across the motorsport community. But, as with all announcements, some passionate responses have also been received and so the BRC sat down with Championship Manager Reece Tarren to find out more on next year’s plans.
How has the calendar been received in your opinion?
Rally fans are a passionate bunch and that’s great because they really do speak from the heart. Fans are an important part in the BRC and any sport but our focus on the calendar in terms of opinions really comes from our competitors, both existing and potential.
Will it work? Well as Iain Campbell said last year, we won’t really know until we are sat on the start line of the Malcolm Wilson Rally next March.
It is a revised and new-look calendar, and they always divide opinions, but it has had a shake-up very much on purpose. There is a good mix of some of the strongest UK and European events there.
I`ll raise this from the outset though; rallying is not disappearing from the regions we are not attending. The events will still be taking place and I`m sure they will flourish too as they are superb stand-alone rallies. It’s a shame we cannot return, but a ten-round calendar is just not sustainable.
Four asphalt and three gravel rounds – is that going to be the way forward for the BRC?
First up – It’s not an intentional split. With seven rounds we are always going to have a majority and for this season, it leans towards a sealed surface. There has been a lot of thought gone into condensing those asphalt events into a mini-season for crews too, meaning they will only have two set-up changes all year long.
You’re back in Northern Ireland?
Plain and simple; we missed it. It’s important to try and visit each one of the home nations and the Ulster Rally has long been part of the heritage of the BRC. In a post covid year, it was thought that a more mainland approach was required, but we have some great support from the Irish crews, and it will be great to resume the friendly rivalry between the BRC and the ITRC. It may just encourage some crews to tackle both series once again.
But you’re heading to Belgium again too. That’s not a home nation.
The Ypres Rally needs no introduction does it really? Having been a round of the WRC for the last two years the event is at the top of its game and offers arguably the biggest challenge to any driver in the series next season.
It’s no secret that we struggle here in the UK to take rallying to a huge audience. The service park is in Ypres town centre with bars and ice cream shops just seconds away from the start ramp and the fact the town truly embraces the event around them is something to behold
When a three-time BRC champion [Matt Edwards] tells you that Ypres is “one of the best rallies you will ever do” you have to listen.
Many have commented on the lack of events in the South of the country or even the Isle of Man. Can you tell us why that is?
We finally managed to make it to Clacton in 2022 after Covid halted our 2021 plans to attend. It was a great way to kick off the series in a new part of the country and the short stages kept the times close all weekend. But overwhelming feedback from competitors has been that the BRC events need longer stages and mileages.
The rally is still taking place in 2023 and Tony [Clements] and his team will undoubtedly put on a great event once again. We would like to thank him for his hospitality, and we wish them the very best.
And of course, the BRC does not organise events. And there really isn’t any in the South that could be looked at for inclusion so whilst the map looks “top-heavy” there isn’t a great deal we can do about that with the mantra that we are following this year in longer events, stages, and mileages.
The Isle of Man is steeped in BRC history, but at the moment there are no direct ferry routes from Ireland (North & South) to the rock, so it makes it difficult to justify when we have so many crews taking part from that side of the water. It’s also around a similar time away from home as Ypres and with the current calendar, it wasn’t possible to squeeze a trip in.
There are plenty of comments online saying Ypres is their closest rally and really that shouldn’t be a bad thing. If you haven’t been, you are missing one of the greatest events in Europe. It’s only an hour on a ferry/train and another hour on the other side makes it incredibly accessible for Brits in the south – an absolute must for any anorak! You can catch up with the BRC protagonists and join us for beers and ice cream, what’s not to love?
What else should we know?
Many fans and drivers have been calling for the BRC to differentiate from other series that are available. Make it harder, longer, tougher, and worthy of the British Rally Championship title. There is not a huge selection of high mileage events in the country and it’s a fine balance between that ideal scenario and cost. As a rally fan myself, there is nothing I’d love more than a 4-day Welsh or Scottish event back in the calendar but times have changed, and you can only play with the cards you’re dealt.
The BRC will offer those that want more than a 45-mile Interclub event the chance to progress and push themselves in a different and more challenging environment. The Jim Clark, Trackrod and Cambrian all have stages in the dark and there is the possibility of a few others having that too.
And, to ensure each event has its own look and format, the Malcolm Wilson Rally organisers will cram in all their mileage into one day, almost to the same [day] levels as a WRC round with the added benefit of minimal road mileage and time away from home.
As for Ypres; Belgian tar. Enough said.
You can contact the British Rally Championship via the means below:
Reece Tarren – BRC Championship Manager
Matt Cotton – BRC Media Manager