Just over 18 months after starting his rallying career, Steve Waugh heads into the off-season with a British Rally Championship class title to his name and his sights set firmly on progression after a positive season in the UK’s top tier.
Piloting a Fiesta R2T in the BRC4 category, Waugh and co-driver Mark Broadbent had one goal this season; gain experience for the future, thanks to a confidence-boosting performance throughout the year, the 28-year old from Dyserth in Wales is already working on 2024.
Aside from a last stage off in Ulster, Waugh hasn’t shied away from the challenges of a BRC campaign, taking many `firsts` in his stride, including tackling a closed road asphalt event, recce and overseas event. Having only started rallying in 2022, the former lead technician for the M-Sport World Rally Team is delighted with how the year has gone.
“To secure a BRC class title is a great achievement and one that I’m very proud of,” he says.
“So much goes into a season behind the scenes that people don’t see, from the financial struggles, finding sponsors to the all-nighters we sometimes work to get everything ready for the rally, especially when the previous rally ended prematurely. Then of course there’s the personal commitment of preparation needed to compete at this level, physical fitness, learning the Recce techniques for the first time at the Malcolm Wilson Rally and learning how to drive flat out without risk and with very limited seat time.
“Back in 2017 when I was working as a mechanic with M-Sport, winning the World Championship as a team felt amazing and I could only imagine then what it would be like to be in the driver’s shoes, so to be here and have a BRC class title feels quite special.
Adapting to the challenges of a British Championship has not been easy, and although it may have been a rapid ascent, Waugh thinks it was the right thing to do.
“This season was primarily a learning year for me, with very little seat time in the new car arriving at the season opener, I had to learn the car on the go. I think it’s been a brilliant decision to come to the BRC, I feel I’ve gained great experience from each event, having more mileage, my first taste of night stages and also my first time on asphalt events. The final stage of Ulster aside, I think my performance has been very good this season but every day is a school day and there’s always something new to learn. “
Progression was always a theme of the Welshman’s assault on the season and now that’s very much been mission accomplished; what’s next?
“Our plan is still to progress up the ladder of the BRC to hopefully be in a Rally 2 car in the not too distant future, but you have to walk before you run and it’s crucial for me to experience and learn the cars at each level. I feel this year in the Fiesta R2T has been a success and I completed our objectives for the season. Next season we will look to move up to 4WD machinery with the Rally 3 car. Our plan will be to compete in the BRC once again, and also get more seat time in the car away from our championship events to learn and test, so we are fully comfortable and getting the most out of myself and the car. “