Saturday, 1 April 2017

BCCC title battle to start at Pikes Peak

Crews in the 2017 Britpart MSA British Cross Country Championship will begin the battle for the title next weekend when round one of the series takes place at Pikes Peak in Wales.

Leading the crews away will be 2016 champion Martin Gould in his Buxton 4x4 Rivet. The BMW M3-engined car has had some work done over the winter to increase power and reduce weight. 

"I'm really looking forward to the challenge," said Gould. "As well as the competitors from last year we're going to be up against several quick new drivers and cars too, it promises to be a great season."

Ryan Cooke’s Milner LRM-1 will be car two and he’ll be looking to build on the win he achieved at the final round last year. The Lofthouse Freelander of Richard Wynne-Williams is at car three. Wynne-Williams led the championship for much of last season in what was his first season with the Lofthouse and he's been busy testing his car at Sweet Lamb in preparation for his BCCC campaign.

There will be a new machine at car four as Andy Powell debuts his Walker Adams Revolution. After racing a 5.7 V8 beam-axle Simmbugghini in recent years it will be a big change to compete in the 1.0 independent Walker Adams.

"It will certainly take some time to get used to the new car, it's totally different to what I am used to - I'm going from one extreme to the other," said Powell. "I'd been considering switching to a UTV-style car for a while as they're getting increasingly popular for competition use."

Rounding off the top five is Mark Jacques in another Lofthouse Freelander. The car has been modified over the winter and now features a flat-shift and a new ECU.

Steve Smith starts at car 6 in his JRG Clio V8 with Justin Birchall's Lofthouse Freelander at car 7. Birchall will have Jonny Koonja co-driving, Koonja returning to co-driving after driving in the championship last year. Richard Coleby is at car 8 in the Polaris RZR XP Turbo he took to second place at the final round last year. 

Britpart's Paul Myers will be in his usual Land Rover Tornado and he will start at car 9. Ben Duckworth is next up in the Milner LRM-1 he used to take three wins in the 2015 BCCC. Winner of the title in 2014 and 2015 Mike Moran will be in his Lofthouse Evo at car 11. It will be his first full BCCC season in the car which he used to finish third on the Border Hill Rally last year.

The championship has attracted several new crews this season and the first of these off the start line will be Andy Degiulio in his Milner R5. Degiulio has been testing his car to get used to the all-terrain tyres used in the BCCC.

"We had a day at the Phil Price Rally School last week," said Degiulio. "I wanted to get some miles on the car and get used to how it reacts on the new Insa Turbo Ecorace AT tyres as I'm used to racing on mud-terrains. I want to be on the pace for round one as we'll be up against some tough competition and I'm expecting some ferocious battles."

Ian Bartlett makes a return to the championship in his Bartletts 3M 206. The car has contested the BCCC before but it has been having an extensive rebuild for the last couple of years. Rob Bool, who entered a couple of Clubman rounds in 2015 and 2016, will bring his AT 4x4 Indy Challenger. The car is no stranger to the BCCC having previously been owned by Mike Moran who competed in it for several years.

Another driver stepping up to the championship after contesting Clubman events is Justin Brooks who will use a Yamaha YXZ1000R. 

"The friendly atmosphere at the events was a factor in committing to the championship as was the no-nonsense format that fits in well with my work commitments," commented Brooks. "Both my co-driver Caroline and myself are excited at this year's prospects and very much look forward to round one, we're hoping it'll be a wet course and nice and twisty to suit our car."

Joining Brooks in a Yamaha is Darren Johnson who had a successful BCCC debut in the final round last season. Returning to the championship for the first time in 10 years is Lee Mansfield. The Nuneaton-based former Bowler champion will use a Milner R5. Adam Evans will give the new X3 Racing BRP Can-Am Maverick its BCCC debut. The car was recently tested in Tong Forest, including being driven by former BTCC driver and star of Emmerdale Kelvin Fletcher. Rounding off the new drivers is Adrian Marfell who will be in his Fouquet Nissan.

In the BCC Trophy 2016 title winner Phill Bayliss will not be defending the championship so it will be the Insanity Racing Tornado of Jon Damrel who will be first away. The team have undertaken extensive modifications to the car over the winter including converting it from an automatic transmission to manual.

"We've certainly been very busy since the end of last season," said Damrel. "Fortunately the big jobs are complete and we finally got to run the engine for the first time a few days ago which was a major milestone. We've still got a lot of smaller jobs to do but hopefully we'll be ready for Pikes Peak."

2014/2015 champion Nick Pritchard will return in his Goka Buggy ahead of the Peugeot 206 M3 of Steve Anning. Paul Rowlands will be be next away before two new Yamahas which have been built by Landranger Deeside and which will be driven by Ashley Jones and Joe Quirk.

At the time of writing there have been seven registrations for the Freelander Challenge. Pat Masters will return to defend the title he won last year. Next up will be Alex Howard followed by Ian Morson and Graham White. Brian Chase will be out in his V6-engined car and his Ravenol-backed machine has had an extensive rebuild since it was last in action.

"The car has been rebuilt by Harry Hockly Motorsport and has new Bilstein suspension with an increased ride height which should hopefully mean no more dragging the sump guard on the course," said Chase. "I'm pleased to be contesting the Challenge again, I'll have flying Frenchman Ben Le Gendre in the co-driver hot seat."

Double Freelander champion Ian Linford will once again race his Team Sheepie Freelander while Michael Wilson will contest his second Challenge season in his Gibson's of Kendal-supported car.

In the Clubman class Toby Jefferson will be first away in his GSR 206 and he'll be followed by Steve Llewellyn who will be in a Land Rover Tornado. Ben Clay is next up in his Tomcat 100. Clay competed in the Trophy championshp last season and is doing selected Clubman rounds this year. Other Clubman entries include Richard Keasey in his Rakeway Ridgeback and Steve Carroll in a Land Rover Freelander.

The event takes place at Pikes Peak near Devil's Bridge in Mid-Wales. The action starts at 10am on Saturday with day two starting at 9am. Spectator information is available at