BRC boss bullish about series’ prospects despite poor Ulster numbers

British Rally Championship manager Reece Tarren is adamant “exciting times” lie ahead for the competition despite only six registered crews starting the Modern Tyres Ulster Rally over the weekend.

Following a year’s sabbatical, the Northern Ireland Motor Club showpiece returned to the series for 2023 but, in a change from before, it hosted the fourth round and not the usual title decider. 

M-Sport driver and points’ leader Adrien Fourmaux – the overall winner with Alexandre Coria by almost 50 seconds – along with Scotland’s Garry Pearson made up the main BRC1 field, whilst four cars battled it out for top honours in the Junior British Rally Championship support category. 

Four-time British Champion Keith Cronin was a notable absentee having indicated in the week prior to the Ulster that work commitments would prevent him from continuing with his campaign. Wales’ James Williams also elected to skip the Newry-based meeting but is set to return for his home fixture in two weeks’ time.  

Under the current system, crews nominate their five best scores and with this season’s calendar comprising seven in total, Tarren said that it was inevitable some motor clubs would lose out.

“Of course, the number of British Rally Championship registered crews that headed to Ulster was disappointing but as per previous seasons, the final points total at the end of the year is calculated from the five highest scoring rounds, so crews do end up not attending certain rounds,” he said.

“I do, however, believe the British Rally Championship should continue to support the handful of international rallies that remain in the UK and I believe the event and route Wayne Turkington and the team have put together is a great one. Those not attending will certainly be missing out.” 

Tarren remains adamant that the current pathway for the Motorsport UK sanctioned competition is the correct one thanks to the backing of stakeholders and sponsors. “Rallying has not received the same levels of coverage as other motorsports,” said Tarren, who took up his role last January.

“The foundations have been set and there are exciting times ahead as the British Championship’s partners are enabling us to severely reinvest back into the series and make it more appealing.”

Meanwhile, Fourmaux was full of praise the scrutiny he faced out on the stages from Irish Tarmac Rally Championship drivers over the course of last Friday and Saturday, including newly-crowned champion Callum Devine.

The Ford Fiesta Rally2 pilot cantered to the win alongside countryman Alexandre Coria to make it four consecutive maximum scores in the British Rally Championship following his success at the Malcolm Wilson, Jim Clark, and Ypres rallies respectively. 

“It was really nice to win here,” said Fourmaux, who has been dovetailing his commitments in the national series with appearances in the FIA World Rally Championship’s WRC2 support category in 2023.

“We know the stages here in Ireland are really difficult and the competition here is very high. That rain on Friday – it just kept coming – and along with the Irish drivers here, they are really impressive. 

“They are fast and the pace here was really high and actually, it was a big fight, so I am really glad we won this one. It is a good result for the Championship and a lot of points, so it is really positive.”

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