This year’s Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship has received a record-breaking number of pre-season registrations – with 155 competitors already lined up to contest the six gravel round series in 2021.
There is a strong entry in all 14 classes, including the Juniors (with a top prize of a test in a PCRS Rallysport-prepared Hyundai i20 R5, courtesy of OnThePaceNote) and the Restruct sponsored Two-Wheel Drive category. The battle for the overall title is poised to be more intense than ever, with 31 powerful W13 class (formerly B13) four-wheel drive cars and six W14 class (WRC/R5/S2000/RCC) cars registered.
The RAVENOL Welsh Challenge, which recognises the performance of competitors who have yet to finish in the top 10 overall of a Championship round, remains popular with over 50 crews registered.
The opening round of the 2021 Welsh National Rally Championship is the Nicky Grist Stages on Saturday 10 July, where over 80 registered drivers have had their entries accepted.
“We’ve seen the Welsh National Rally Championship grow year on year from around thirty two registrations a decade ago to well over a hundred now,” says Dave.
“In 2020 Will Rogers joined the team as we looked forward to raising the Championship profile further and it’s all thanks to the hard work of the Welsh Association of Motor Clubs, the individual events and the support we’ve received the from our long term sponsors Pirelli and RAVENOL UK.
“Over sixty per cent of this year’s pre-season registrations are from returning competitors, which is very pleasing because it shows that we are doing a lot of things right because the competitors have enjoyed the Championship so much that they’ve come back for more. We’re also delighted to see so many new competitors come to the series this year, all of whom have been attracted by the fantastic calendar of events, incentives and the class structure – not least our very buoyant two-wheel drive and junior categories, plus the new road rally class.
“To see so many competitors registered before the first round, and eighty-four Welsh National Rally Championship registered crews with their entries accepted for the Nicky Grist Stages, is unprecedented. We used to get excited and were very pleased when we had fifty crews contesting a rally, so we are confident that this year’s competition will be the best ever. And given the rich history of the Welsh National Rally Championship, that is really saying something.”
Some of the drivers registered for this year’s Welsh National Rally Championship include four former champions – Matthew Hirst (Mitsubishi Evo 9), Callum Black (Ford Fiesta R5), Dylan Davies (Škoda Fabia R5) and Paul Walker (Subaru Impreza).
Also registered is the winner of last December’s Rali Adfer Coedwigoedd Cymru test event and maximum Welsh National Rally Championship points scorer on the 2020 Cambrian Rally, Ian Bainbridge (Škoda Fabia R5), 2019 runner-up Russ Thompson (Mitsubishi Evo 9), Wug Utting (Subaru Impreza STi N12B), Nik Elsmore (Mitsubishi Evo 9), Bob Morgan (Škoda Fabia), David Tomlin (Ford Fiesta R5), Martyn England (who has swapped his Ford Fiesta R5+ for a Mitsubishi Evo 10) and the 2019 Junior champion, Tom Llewellin (who returns in a Mitsubishi Mirage R5).
There is a strong contingent of two-wheel drive competitors, with Nick Elliott, Ben Friend, Rob Dennis, Pete Littler, Gavin Edwards, Owen McMackin, Philip Clarke, and Jonathan Brace, to name a few, driving Escort Mk2s, while Andrew Davison (Talbot Sunbeam), David Jones (BMW E30), Alan Desbois (Peugeot 306 RWD), Kevin Metcalfe (BMW E30) and Gary Smith (Ford Escort Mk1) are also on the list, while Road Rally experts Ricky Crone and Robi Wood join for the first time.
The Welsh National Rally Championship has received 13 entries from Ireland, including the exciting Frank Kelly, Paul Barrett, Andrew Bustard and David Crossen who will all drive Escort Mk2s. There are also two registrations from the Isle of Man – Max Bradshaw (Mitsubishi Evo) and Steven Ormond-Smith (Mitsubishi Evo IX).
There are plenty of quality drivers in other classes too – including Juniors George Lepley (Mitsubishi Evo 10), Ioan Lloyd (Peugeot 208 R2) and Zak Hughes (Renualt Twingo) – who will be looking to improve on his second place finish in the Juniors in 2019. Dave Brick is also back and aiming for more giant-killing performances on his Vauxhall Nova.
The co-driver registrations are also brimming with experience and talent. Declan Dear, the 2019 champion, is returning, as it Andy Murphy who narrowly missed out on winning the title last time out. Multiple champion Andy Marchbank returns, as does Paul Spooner, Mark Glennerster, Dawn England, Craig Drew, Cliff Simmons, Steve McPhee, Andrew Sankey, Dave Price and many more.
Further details on the 2021 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship, together with registration information, can be found online at: wnrc.wamc.org.uk.
2021 Motorsport UK Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship calendar
10 July….Nicky Grist Stages
14 August….Plains Rally
4 September…. Eventsigns Woodpecker Stages
16 October…. Winner Garage ŠKODA Wyedean Rally
30 October….Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally
13 November….Rallynuts Stages Rally
For more information, please contact:
Top: Matt Hirst/Declan Dear, 2019 Pirelli Welsh National Rally champions (Mitsubishi Evo 9). Picture by Chris Huish.
Middle left: Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy, 2019 Pirelli Welsh National Rally runners-up (Mitsubishi Evo 9). Picture by Paul Mitchell.
Middle right: Nicky Grist Stages podium: 1st Russ Thompson/Andy Murphy;
2nd Matt Hirst/Declan Dear; 3rd Andrew Davison/Tom Murphy (Talbot Sunbeam) – all three crews are returning to the Pirelli Welsh National Rally Championship in 2021. Picture by Paul Mitchell.
Bottom left: Dylan Davies/Mark Glennerster testing their Škoda Fabia R5.
Bottom right: Paul Walker/Geraint Thomas testing their Subaru Impreza.