A UK R-GT class could refresh rallying

Published on Wednesday January 24 2018

Cars like Porsche Boxsters could compete more in the UK

In the true spirit of taking on more input from stakeholders within motorsport, as per new MSA chairman David Richards’ speech at the Watkins Lecture, it took less than a week for a proposal to come out from under the woodwork from competitors. And it’s a good one.

Since 2009, three-litre cars have been unable to compete in multi-venue stage rallying, apart from the Tuthill Porsche 996 GT3, which is homologated with the FIA and therefore able to compete.

This column isn’t intended to stick the boot into the law-makers, as I don’t think they’ve done anything wrong here, but the case for the rule change appears strong and could help in multiple areas of national rallying. 

As Ryan Champion points out if the over three-litre rule is safety related, we already have two-litre turbocharged cars competing in the UK. When you apply the 1.7 per cent multiplier used to ascertain what class a turbo car should run in, you’re over four-litres in equivalent – never mind three. 

And another thing to add – this isn’t to bring back home-built specials. 

Rule isn’t designed to bring back ‘specials’ like Andy Burton’s Peugeot-Cosworth. Pic: Jakob Ebrey

This is to introduce cost-effective cars like the BMW M3 and the Nissan 350Z, which can be proper little pocket-rockets built and run for a relatively low cost. 

Of course, how the cars are policed must be watched carefully, and the air restrictor suggested by Champion seems sensible. But in times where the MSA is often effectively held hostage over safety regulations and what it must do to ensure outside parties believe our sport to be safe, the proposal and what to do next must be examined carefully. 

The counter argument there would be that many current national-level cars are heavily modified, and at least the cars being proposed – take the Cayman for example – is based on an up-to-date road car with modern safety features. There’s a lot to be said for that in current times. 

The reason I became interested in rallying, apart from the usual influence of a parent, is because of the variety between the trees.

This change would help that massively. 

A UK version of the R-GT class would allow modern, big-engined cars. Pic: Roy Dempster

I love the Escort Mk2 as much as any, I’m from a ‘Ford family’, but even I believe there to be too many out competing. The perfect example of this being the reaction Barry Jordan got to his Hillman Avenger at the recent Autosport International Show. Even Thierry Neuville stopped to look.

As long as the proposed new class(es) are safe, then it’s a no-brainer. 

Some great-sounding cars and a greater variety of them on the stages, and more entries for the event. It’s hard to see how you could oppose it.

The proposal should be with the MSA Rallies Committee soon, and I hope they can find a safe way to introduce some of these brilliant cars for competition. The Escorts need some rivalry for rally fans’ hearts.

Escort MkIIs are much-loved, but are there now too many? Pic: Jakob Ebrey

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