The Severn Valley Stages will replace the outgoing Somerset Stages on the 2018 BTRDA Rally Series calendar, Motorsport News has learned.
In a shake-up to the schedule, which is yet to be confirmed until the calendar is finalised and accepted by the Motor Sports Association, the Builth Wells event will swap to an April date, which is where the Somerset Stages ran in 2017.
The change is reportedly good for the condition of the forestry complex. The Severn Valley previously ran in June, a mere month-and-a-half before the Nicky Grist Stages used similar stages. The move means the roads will have more time to be regraded and set, theoretically improving the quality of them for competitors.
The replacement of the Somerset does mean that the BTRDA is set to have only have two events in England on its Rally Series calendar – the DMACK Carlisle Stages, which also had a lower-than-usual entry in 2017, and the Trackrod Rally Yorkshire.
With the loss of the Sunseeker and Tempest rallies from the south, there are fewer 45-mile-or-more gravel events for the series to include in England.
The loss of the Somerset Stages also has implications for the MSA English Championship, also run by the BTRDA, as that loses the Somerset as a round, and the Severn Valley replacement is based in South Wales.
Somerset Stages organisers confirmed it wouldn’t happen in 2018, which was due to be the 40th running of the Minehead-based event. A reduced entry level on gravel rallies in the UK was cited as the major reason.
“The Somerset has been a good event,” said Steve Gregg of the BTRDA. “From a club point of view the organiser has made it the event of the year a couple of times and it isn’t easy putting an event on down there.
“The problem with it is that it’s part of the English championship. We’re struggling for English rounds generally.”
The calendars for rally championships in the UK should all now be with the MSA for approval.