Press release: 19 April 2021
Registrations flood in for the 2021 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship - which features a vibrant new class structure designed to attract a wide variety of cars and drivers
Registrations are flooding in thick and fast for this year's Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship, which will feature 14 different classes catering for a wide and diverse range of cars and drivers - including, by popular demand, a new category for Road Rally cars.
With points awarded to the top 22 finishers on each round, the battle for the overall Welsh National Rally Championship title is always a very close one - like in 2019, when Matthew Hirst/Declan Dear pipped Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy and Tom Llewellin/Peredur Davies in the race for the coveted crown on the final round.
The overall champion can come from any class, meaning that a well-driven Escort Mk2 can battle for overall honours against four-wheel drive machinery.
Every class and all registered competitors are important to the inclusive and friendly Welsh National Rally Championship, and this philosophy has enabled the series to develop a class structure rich in quality and quantity.
A classic example is the Ravenol Welsh Challenge, which has established itself as one of the top clubman categories within the Welsh National Rally Championship. It is open to competitors in both two- and four-wheel drive cars, who have not finished in the top 10 of a National B (or equivalent) championship gravel event. This very well supported category fits exactly the criteria sponsor Ravenol UK MD Brian Chase was looking for when promoting Ravenol UK to the motorsport fraternity.
The Restruct sponsored Two-Wheel Drive category has also increased in popularity since its introduction a decade ago. Open to and rewarding crews competing in either front- or rear-wheel drive cars, this category has successfully attracted historic vehicles across into the open class structure. It has proved so successful that a bit of fine-tuning will now see historic vehicles separated within a new class structure to increase the already strong competition, as well as retaining the category's integrity.
Registrations have started to flow in from drivers such as Andrew Davison (Talbot Sunbeam) and Gary Smith (Ford Escort Mk1) - as well as a significant number of serious enquiries from Irish rally drivers, including from Frank Kelly in his famous Baby Blue Escort, which bodes well for an exciting Irish presence in the championship.
Meanwhile Welsh National Rally Championship regular Wug Utting (Subaru Impreza STi N12B) is amongst several registrations in the four-wheel drive classes - and one of the UK's most experienced co drivers Paul Spooner has registered again in a bid for top honours.
A very important element to the Welsh National Rally Championship is the development of talent in the Under 25 section - and in recent years, six championship winning drivers have started in the Junior category. As in 2019, the prize for the winning Welsh National Rally Championship Junior driver is a test in a PCRS Rallysport-prepared Hyundai i20 R5, courtesy of OnThePaceNote.
There is also a new class for Road Rally cars, in an acknowledgement of the increasing number of competitors who would like to try stage rallying without having to go to market and buy another vehicle. Cars will be allowed to run under Motorsport UK stage rally rules for tyres and graphics, and they must conform to both road rally and stage rally regulations. Registrations have also already been received for this class.
The full list of 14 classes in the 2021 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship are:
W1: 2WD - up to and including 1000cc naturally aspirated
W2: 2WD - 1001cc to 1400cc 8v naturally aspirated
W3: 2WD - 1001cc to 1400cc 16v naturally aspirated
W4: 2WD - all R2 homologated cars / FIA 1000cc turbo and 1600cc
W5: 2WD - Road Rally cars
W6: 2WD - Historic Cat 1 (including up to 1600cc category 2, 3 and 4a)
W7: 2WD - Historic 1601cc and over 8v single cam (category 2, 3 and 4a)
W8: 2WD - Historic 1601cc and over 16v multi valve (category 2, 3, 4a and 4b up to 1600cc)
W9: 4WD - Historic category 4b over 1600cc. Complaint to R49.1.5 MSUK Year Book
W10: 2WD - 1401cc to 1600cc naturally aspirated
W11: 2WD - 1601cc to 2000cc naturally aspirated
W12: 2WD - 2001cc and over
W13: 4WD - all four-wheel drive cars, excluding class W14 and W9
W14: 4WD - WRC/R5/S2000/RCC cars
Dave Evison, Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship Secretary, said: "In response to requests from competitors, we have made some positive changes to the class structure of the Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship. With the inclusion of the Road Rally class, and the healthy competition in the popular two-wheel drive category, I believe the balance we have struck will maintain the competition between crews - which is so important to deliver a successful series."
The opening round of the 2021 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship is the Nicky Grist Stages on Saturday 10 July.
Andrew Davison/Tom Murphy (Talbot Sunbeam). Picture courtesy of Chris Huish, RallySport Media
Gary Smith/Phil Clarke (Ford Escort RS 1600 Mk1). Picture courtesy of Chris Huish, RallySport Media
Wug Utting/Bob Stokoe (Subaru Impreza STi N12B). Picture courtesy of Chris Huish, RallySport Media
Damian Cole/Jamie Edwards (Road Rally spec Ford Escort Mk2).