A sunny Wednesday in April signalled the start of the rallycross season in the UK. Lydden Hill played host to a rallycross test day with the British Rallycross Championship holding a media day at the same time.
Around 40 drivers made their way down to Kent with those competing in BRX and BTRDA being represented. The most interesting car was that of STARD's ERX car. Electric cars that raced in Projekt E last year will be allowed in the British RX Supercar class this season. STARD, keen to show off their car, gave a dozen or so people a chance behind the wheel. Sir Chris Hoy was first to drive the car with Liam Doran, Matt Neal, Mark Flaherty, Hal Ridge, Natalie Barratt and Steve Harris all getting a turn in the driver’s seat.
Natalie Barratt, Projekt E’s inaugural champion, is looking to race a pair of electric cars with Chris Hoy. I was able to chat to her ahead of the season. “Everybody said to have a go at rallycross but I’ve always said no, no, no until it turns electric. I have kids now so I have a bit more of a conscience and I don’t think I want to go out and race a petrol car. I’d like to see motorsport go from strength to strength with new technology.”
She was very pleased and surprised to win last year’s Projekt E. “Big shock. Entered it pretty last minute. I’d never done rallycross before so absolutely loved it but a baptism of fire.”
Turning to the season ahead I asked how close she was to committing to racing this year. “It’s coming along. It’s not there yet. Gives me many sleepless nights. Couldn’t ask for a better teammate than Sir Chris.”
If all comes together she and 6 time Olympic Gold Medalist Sir Chris Hoy will compete in the full 2021 season.
Andy Scott made his return to the British RX paddock in his trusty Peugeot 208. “The last time this car was out, with Mark Higgins at Silverstone [World RX 2019] and prior to that I last drove it at Holjes 2018 [World RX]. It’s the exact same car as it was back then.”
A full season is expected but he may miss a round or 2. “Main consideration is work commitments. Like everybody, with covid, work’s not going as it should be. No work, no play.” He reckons the car should be able to fight for wins, “The car, we still have a good package. There’s obviously a good few guys in with a chance of winning but I’d like to think that we’re one of them.”
Kevin Procter had also returned to rallycross after a couple of years away. “That’s been parked up for 2 and a half years. And I thought well they’re having a test day, Andy Scott was coming so I’ll bring my car. See how it goes today and I might sign in for a few rounds.” Procter will miss round 2 for a rally and will only compete in selected events in the remainder of the season.
The final Supercar driver testing was Tristan Ovenden. “We’ve just tried to improve the ease of using it and the reliability is a thing just trying to keep on top of that. Learning the car, what it can and can’t do, that’s the trick. To make the podium. That’s the aim every race.”
I was able to chat to Ollie O’Donovan who was setting up his RX150 buggies for the new season. “Back for another season. I’m only here today with buggies. Just a few tweaks and changes.” A new car, a Proton Iriz, is currently being built but won’t race in May. “It's coming along. It won’t be ready for rounds 1 and 2 which is a pity. We’ll miss it by about a month. We’re building a few but at the moment we’re going to try one. If one is successful we’re going to build some more.”
Steve Hill, missing a Mitsubishi, was helping O’Donovan. “Our car wasn’t due to be ready till the end of this month so we’re still working on it. We’ve got a few things up our sleeves to get it done right. My car suits the fastest circuits. I’d like to get up to Knockhill and some of the faster circuits. We could do with some wet events. That suits me. The wet and slippery events are quite good.”
Julian Godfrey was checking in on Chris Langley’s (well Mark Watson’s) 500hp Supernational Ford Focus. I got to speak to the 6 times BRX champion, “Just really repairing all the accident damage from last year. I still haven’t finished all of that yet. Both events, I had a lot of problems like accident damage or mechanical problems so it was a struggle last year but hopefully this year will be a bit better.” Asking if he’s aiming to win the GB1 sticker again “I’d like to get it back on the car. Bit longer before I get too old for it. I still enjoy the driving side. Hopefully I’ll still be competitive.”
Mike Sellar made it down near the end of the day to see what was going on. His Citroen was not set to be rebuilt until the end of the month but he should be at every round of the series.
Andrew Coley was out testing in an RX150 buggy and while back in the paddock I was able to have a chat with him. In case you didn’t know, he is an absolute legend.
Tom Brooks, who will be commentating this year alongside Dan Wright, was helping his dad test their production rallycross car. It was nice to meet Tom again and he was kind enough to let me sit in his car.
And that about wraps it up. The BTRDA season opener takes place on May 8th at Lydden Hill behind closed doors. However, it won’t be until British RX kicks off on May 29th and 31st that I’ll be back trackside, again at Lydden Hill. As it stands, my season will see me go to all Lydden Hill events as well as Pembrey with a trip to Scotland being considered. My photos are available on this website and I am available for hire for the entire British RX season. Only a small selection of photos end up on this website so if you can't find what you're looking for I may have it offline.
I’m looking forward to seeing all the cars out on track especially as the Supercar class could be one of the most competitive it’s ever been. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens. I hope to see you all soon.