The Motorsport UK British Rally Championship is set to round out its 2023 season in the world-class gravel stages of North Wales, as the Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally plays host to the seventh and final round this weekend [28 October].
The race for the coveted BRC title was decided in the super-fast forests of Trackrod Rally Yorkshire back in September, as Frenchman Adrien Fourmaux took his fifth BRC win of the season to etch his name on the impressive trophy, alongside greats such as Colin McRae, Richard Burns, Ari Vatanen and many more.
He and co-driver Alexandre Coria dovetailed the BRC alongside a World Rally Championship WRC2 campaign in their Ford Fiesta Rally2, and it’s due to that commitment, that will see them skip the season finale.
With the overall championship decided, the focus now turns to the remaining clashes not only for position in the standings but across the other categories in the series and the Llandudno-based event provides the perfect battleground to see out the season in style.
Iconic forest stages which saw the world’s best drivers thread their top-flight machinery through the rugged landscape throughout the Wales Rally GB era of the World Rally Championship, will also host the BRC’s final chapter of 2023 as the likes of Brenig, Elsi and Cloc Main will be familiar stages to fans and drivers alike.
Heading the BRC1 charge for the swansong is Duns driver Garry Pearson in his Volkswagen Polo GTi. The Scot has spent the season adapting to the VW on both surfaces and aside from an early exit on his home rally, the Jim Clark, has enjoyed a largely consistent points haul on each event. He will be looking to rubber-stamp his second place in the championship and on this occasion, he will be co-driven by Hannah McKillop.
Returning to the British Rally Championship for the first time since 2021 is Ollie Mellors in the Proton Iriz Rally2. His last BRC appearance was at the Cambrian Rally two years ago and has since switched his attention to events in France.
A recent victory at Rally National de Fourmies en Avesnois highlights his asphalt pace, but has been off gravel since February 2022, meaning he and co-driver Ian Windress may take a while to adapt.
Having wrapped up the BRC4 title, Steve Waugh will be able to relax for his second attempt at the Cambrian Rally. Having only started rallying in 2022, Waugh has spent much of the season learning events in his Fiesta R2T with co-driver Mark Broadbent alongside but has the benefit of some prior knowledge this time around.
Another to be heading to the final round with the crown in hand is National Rally Title champion Alan Carmichael. The Hyundai i20 driver did all he needed to in Yorkshire to take back-to-back titles but was conscience that co-driver Claire Williams could potentially be beaten so makes the trip over from Northern Ireland to ensure they both claim the spoils in 2023.
All eyes this year will be on the Junior British Rally Championship title duel between young chargers Kyle White and Kyle McBride. White has taken four victories so far this season and is in the box seat when it comes to the standings thanks to an impressive season behind the wheel of his Peugeot 208 Rally4.
He and co-driver Sean Topping have been the pacesetters this year and only an off-road excursion in Ypres blotted their copybook. It’s a simple task for the pairing too, just finish; and that will be enough to take the crown back to Northern Ireland.
“It would mean the world to me to add my name to such a prestigious trophy,” says White.
“I remember as a kid tuning in to watch the British Rally Championship and I always said I would love to become a British Rally Champion. This will undoubtedly be the most difficult rally I have done to date, there is a huge amount of pressure to reward all the people who have got me this far, but more importantly, we have to keep our feet on the ground and take this opportunity by the horns.”
Waiting in the wings will be McBride and co-driver Liam McIntyre who recorded their first Junior win at the Trackrod. The Fiesta Rally4 crew are in the hands of the gods if they are to secure the crown but still need to keep their wits about them during the weekend.
“I’m really looking forward to the Cambrian, it will be my first time doing the rally and obviously it’s the last round of the championship” says McBride.
“Most importantly the championship goes down to the last round and I can’t wait to get going. [I have to remember] it’s my first year doing the Junior BRC and it’s really encouraging for me, how I have improved all year to bring the championship down to the last round and it would be a dream come true to win the championship of course.
“I have looked up to so many people who have competed and won the British Championship and it would mean so much to me and my team. I never even thought I would even get the opportunity to do the series at the age of 19 and here we are taking the championship down to the last round, so I am really thankful to all the people around me and to my sponsors who have helped me get this far and obviously the MI Rally Academy for their dedication and hard work”.
The Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally gets underway from Llandudno seafront at 08:00 on Saturday morning, ahead of six stages in the nearby forests. The promenade will then welcome the BRC crews back later that day for the traditional champagne celebrations, just after 17:00.