Is it time cars like Burton’s returned?

Published on Friday March 02 2018

Andy Burton’s Peugeot-Cosworth was a star of national rallying, before it was banned. Pic: Jakob Ebrey

It’s been a couple of weeks since the dust settled, and it’s great to see the debate still flowing around our state of national rallying special (Motorsport News, February 14).

The intention was always to stimulate debate. I don’t declare to know everything about national rallying, and never have.

On a weekly basis I speak to many competitors, and putting into context a lot of what I hear has hopefully provided new ideas and food for thought previously unconsidered, or thoughts that people may have previously disagreed with.

One element of rallying that is constantly discussed is Andy Burton’s Peugeot-Cosworth. It’s the iconic car of national rallying, and I read with interest David Evans’ thoughts on said car in the rally special.

I was lucky enough to head into the forests just before its ‘demise’, and often indulge in watching cars like Alex Kelsey’s New Zealand-based beast, which is effectively a Formula Renault-engined Peugeot 207, and there’s myriad examples of such machines on the continent.

In fact, shortly after reading Evans’ column, I happened across a Peugeot 205 T16-Mazda rotary mash-up, which produced what I can only describe as a noise sent from the heavens.

The common factor with these machines is usually that they are built for off-road championships primarily.

In fact, I’m fairly sure Mr Burton’s Peugeot-Cosworth would be eligible for a number of off-road championships in the UK, not least the MSA British Cross Country Championship.

The British Cross Country Championship caters for powerful cars, and uses some rally stages. Pic: Songasport

Having spoken to drivers of machines more powerful than Burton’s in the BCCC, it appears it is the place to go if you have a home-built or modified machine for the loose with a bigger engine than the three-litre buffer in rallying.

But back to Burton’s Peugeot: if that is the most synonymous machine within national rallying, why isn’t it competing?

The BCCC competes – in some cases – on identical stages to national rallying. Or at least uses similar sections. They also complete multiple runs over said stages.

So if Burton’s Cosworth is allowed in that, why aren’t we encouraging something similar in stage rallying?

Many people link the popularity of national rallying with the likes of Burton’s Peugeot-Cosworth. “The glory days,” they say.

If a car is safe enough for the BCCC, how is it not safe enough for a stage rally using
similar roads?

It’s probably a lost cause, but if Burton’s car is that well remembered and highly rated, why aren’t we campaigning properly for it – and others like it – to return?

Or looking for a compromise that would allow something similar?

Or maybe we should all give up and go and watch the BCCC?

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