IMS and ABIRO Agree Way Forward for 2016 British Rally Championship

Following a constructive meeting at Motor Sports House this week (19th August), the Association of British International Rally Organisers (ABIRO) and International Motor Sports (IMS) have agreed to work together to formulate plans for the relaunch of the British Rally Championship in 2016.

A BRC working group will be created as soon as possible to consider the key issues to be resolved around the revised championship, including vehicles, class structure and the status of events. It is anticipated that further announcements will be made in due course and the group has set a target to resolve all major points before the end of the year to give competitors the earliest possible indications of the future direction of Britain’s premier rally championship.

Ben Taylor, IMS Managing Director, said:

“What should have been an exciting and forward-thinking announcement earlier this summer, was affected by a lack of prior communication that left the organisers of current BRC events feeling undermined and unvalued. We have apologised unreservedly for that and this week’s meeting drew a line under those issues.

“It was a very positive discussion about the future of the championship and what is clear is that we all share a desire to see the BRC as the pinnacle of the British rallying scene. We have undertaken to work together in the coming months to achieve as soon as possible a clear idea of what the 2016 championship will look like. With the knowledge and experience around that table, backed by the commitment of IMS and the MSA to make it successful, we can all be excited about the prospects for the BRC.”

Rick Smith, Event Director, Rallye Dorset, said:

“For all parties associated with the BRC, the last few weeks have been challenging; organisers, competitors, teams, sponsors, officials and spectators have all been concerned in different ways for the future of what is – and must be – the best championship in the UK. Our discussions with MSA and IMS have now given us confidence that the voices of those who can contribute most to the exciting plans for the future will be heard in the correct forum.”

Release MSA14-033: 24 August 2014
For media information only. No regulatory value.

Issued by the Motor Sports Association
For further information please contact Tim Swietochowski
Telephone: +44 (0)1753 765 005  Mobile: +44 (0) 7912 045 050  E-mail: media@msauk.org

Rallye Dorset Postponed – Statement By Southern Car Club

Following the recent Motor Sports Association (MSA) statement on the future of the British Rally Championship (BRC), in particular the decision to cancel the 2015 series, Southern Car Club (SCC), organiser of Rallye Dorset, has reluctantly decided to postpone this year’s event, planned for 17/18 October.

Under its former title, Rallye Sunseeker, the Club’s blue riband event has been a round of the BRC for the past three years. After the end of a fruitful 15-year partnership with Sunseeker International and the re-brand to Rallye Dorset, negotiations over a new three-year title sponsorship deal were drawing to a successful conclusion when the MSA statement was released.

Unable to confirm the event’s future status, with no BRC in 2015 and no clear idea of what may lay beyond, the Club’s committee has withdrawn from the sponsorship negotiations. This leaves the Club with a large potential financial deficit, so postponement is the only option. We have discussed this in depth with our stakeholders – host town, support sponsors, advertisers and similar bodies – who are as sad as we are that, after 27 years as one of the leading motor sport events in the South of England, we have been forced into this position.

To the BRC, the British Historic Championship, the Armed Forces Rally Team Championship, the Defender Challenge By Bowler and the Association of South Western Motor Clubs, the Association of Eastern Motor Clubs- organisers, competitors and spectators of all those series – Southern Car Club extends a heartfelt apology, this situation is not of our making. To all those who have sent messages of support . . . Thank You!

Issued by Southern Car Club Limited
12 noon Saturday 12th July 2014

MSA Announcement About BRC in 2015 – Statement By Southern Car Club

The recent decision by the MSA to not run the British Rally Championship in 2015 beggars belief. It is totally irrational and, we believe, has been made by people who are ‘out of touch’ with the realities of organising major national rallies.

What is more, the manner of the announcement showed total disregard for the existing events: a carefully-orchestrated PR campaign through the pages of Motorsport News and on iRally radio, with no effort made by the MSA to contact existing event organisers to explain the reasoning in detail.

The MSA says it wants “a clean sheet of paper to work with” rather than work with “what is already in place”. From the countless messages Southern Car Club (SCC) has received in recent days, we are only too aware of the incalculable damage done to the morale of all BRC organising clubs and their volunteers, not trusted enough by their ruling body to be part of the decision-making process . . . yet charged with risking their club’s and their members’ money to run an MSA championship round this year. How hypocritical is that?

This decision has far-reaching implications, which seem not to have been considered. Take the commercial relationships each event has with local authorities, landowners, the Forestry Commission, host towns and their tourism stakeholders. The BRC brings considerable value to the communities in which it is staged – research shows between £1.25 to £2.75 million from each event into the local economy – but that is not a one-way street; events work in trusted partnership with those communities, something now under threat if events have no clear path for the future.

Our own event, known for many years as Rallye Sunseeker, is on the verge of signing a first-time sponsor for motor sport, in conjunction with our rebrand as Rallye Dorset. A multi-year deal worth many thousands of pounds is now in jeopardy: with no BRC in 2015 and no guarantee which events will form the “new” 2016 Championship, the MSA’s unilateral decision has effectively made it impossible to proceed with this deal.

This astonishing decision has shaken our organising team to the core. We believe this move may have sounded the death knell of arguably one of the best organised, promoted and funded events in the UK – not just in the future, but for this year as well. No new sponsor means no budget, which may well mean no Rallye Dorset 2014.

Our Club will be taking stock after members have finished running the Rally Stage at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and making a decision within seven days, after consulting our stakeholders – something the MSA failed to do.

Event Director and Vice President of Southern Car Club, Rick Smith said: “Over the years the MSA has been accused in some quarters of being out of touch and of making irrational decisions – generally, I have not been of that viewpoint. Being an MSA International Clerk of the Course, as well as a senior MSA Steward, I have seen how much good the MSA has done for our sport.

“However, I am baffled as to how this decision could possibly have been reached, without any consultation with those in charge of current BRC events – my senior officials and the Club have been treated shabbily by those supposed to work to our benefit.

“We read that the MSA spoke to lots of people in the sport – they certainly didn’t talk to SCC officials or, to my knowledge, any of the other BRC event organisers – so how can they possibly know what we believe is needed?”

Having witnessed the falling levels of entries and spectators on BRC rounds at first hand, event organisers appreciate, more than anyone, that changes to the current structure of the BRC are needed. Maybe a move back to four-wheel-drive is the answer? Maybe it is to allow non-homologated cars to challenge for overall honours? Maybe it is a complete adoption of the FIA’s R1 to R5 structure?

It isn’t making long-term changes to the sport that we object to, rather the manner in which the decision to conduct a long, drawn-out review was made – and announced – with total disregard for the potentially devastating consequences. What is more worrying is that we are told the MSA was given the opportunity to work in tandem with Mark Taylor at Rally UK and the existing events in 2015, to build a better future. The MSA turned it down, electing to preside over a culling of events – for that is how we see this. In our view the MSA Board should meet without delay, and reconsider this lamentable decision, because we have to believe that those board members were not in full possession of the facts when they voted for this!

Issued by Southern Car Club Limited