BRC Licensing Limited [BRCL], the organiser and promoter of the British Rally Championship, has announced that in 2004 the existing British Manufacturer Teams Championship will be opened up to include teams from commercial motor sport companies as well as manufacturer entrants.

It will be renamed the BRC Teams Championship. The initiative is designed to help create and develop partnerships between the BRC and the top motor sport teams in the UK, Ireland and Europe and to assist them in promoting their products and services.

"With most manufacturers choosing to outsource their motor sport operations rather than be directly involved, it makes sense to re-evaluate the BRC structure to allow the top professional teams to promote their companies and compete at the highest level," explains BRC manager Mark Taylor.

"However we're not turning our backs on manufacturer-owned teams. Indeed, we would encourage them to join the 2004 BRC Teams Championship which, if the early interest is anything to go by, will guarantee strong and interesting competition."

At a recent meeting, the new Teams Championship secured a strong thumbs-up from the UK's top rally teams. It was agreed that it should be open to any class of car, so each team will pre-nominate up to two cars from any of the Championship classes, with all rounds to count towards the final points total. This will make for a very open competition.

"As well as two car from the same class," continues Taylor, "it's perfectly possible for a team to nominate one driver of, say, a World Rally Car and the other driving a Formula 1400 car, and both would be eligible to score points.

"We are holding regular meetings with current teams and also those interested in setting one up, with the firm objective of creating partnerships with the BRC. BRCL will be promoting the series abroad and my message to drivers from other countries is that there has never been a better time to compete in the BRC."

With the ultimate goal of a professional drive having been severely compromised by the FIA's two-car WRC rule, Taylor is asking every up-and- coming British, Irish and foreign driver and their respective team managers to re-evaluate their plans for 2004.

The 2004 British Rally Championship will offer eight classic international events, all with reconnaissance and all with unique characteristics. These will provide a perfect training ground for future WRC stars, as Tommi Makinen, Colin McRae and Richard Burns have all discovered in the past.

"Let's look at it this way," says Taylor. "The UK and Ireland have a wealth of top teams which can put together some great deals for drivers and their managers. And there is no need for foreign drivers to bring over their cars and equipment. Instead, they can fly in on a budget airline, do a day's testing, do the recce, then the rally and fly home again - all in less than a week and for a third of the cost of one JWRC event."

BRCL is also working on a deal with a travel partner to offer cut-price ferry and flight deals for teams travelling to Britain.

The 2004 BRC Teams Championship - summary:

- Teams must register with the Championship and pay the appropriate team registration fee of ?3000 (?1000 of which will be allocated to the Teams Championship prize fund).

- All registered teams with cars which currently comply with the BRC technical regulations are eligible to score points on each round.

- Teams must pre-nominate a maximum of two cars and their drivers to the Championship manager before the closing date of the event to which the entry relates. Both cars will be eligible to score points.

- For points scoring purposes, the team nominees will be placed into one of three categories. These categories amalgamate classes A8 and A7; N4 and N3; and A6, A5, N2 and N1.

- Points will be awarded according to the finishing positions in each category using the standard Championship points scoring system.

- All rounds will count toward the final total, and points scored in each category will be added together to determine the Championship scores.



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