There will be no British Rally Championship in 2015, a move which will undoubtedly have implications on the future of the Jim Clark Rally.
British motorsport’s governing body, the MSA, will run the BRC itself from 2016 as it is not satisfied with a tender process to source a promoter for next season.
It will set aside 2015 to consult with the rally community over the championship’s longer-term future.
MSA chief executive Rob Jones believes the radical move is necessary to revitalise the BRC.
He said: “This is certainly a bold move, but we gather a lot of feedback from around the country and one thing our members tell us is that they really want us to govern and lead the sport. The BRC is one of the top three premier championships in the country. Indeed, the full MSA Board had a very animated discussion on the subject before agreeing this direction.”
The BRC has come in for increasing criticism for its focus on front-wheel drive cars and specifically Citroen’s DS3 R3. The French machine filled the podium on every one of the six BRC rounds last season and will likely do the same again this year.
Ben Taylor, head of the MSA’s commercial arm IMS, acknowledged that this had been an issue. He said: “The current championship has become largely a single class and almost a single-make championship, contested only by young drivers with career aspirations on the international stage.
“We have looked very carefully at whether we could set up the championship in time for 2015, but we concluded that that would inevitably involve rolling over much of what is already in place.
“The advantage of taking a year off is that it gives us a clean sheet of paper to work with.”
Before now, only the 2001 outbreak of foot and mouth disease had stopped the BRC running since its inception in 1958.
It is understood that the present constituent rounds of the Championship have been in touch with each other to see if they can run their own championship series.
This will be difficult without MSA approval and with no overall sponsor in sight, but with each event responsible for its own costs it could work. It’s early days, but competitors need to know soon so they can plan for next year. Events need to know too, as this will affect their own plans and budgets.
As a result of the cancellation Duns rally driver Garry Pearson has pulled the plug on his 2014 BRC campaign.
Despite finishing fourth overall in the last two rounds Garry has made the decision following the cancellation of next year’s series and the enforced changes to the Pirelli Star Driver Prize.
Instead he will concentrate on Wales Rally GB which is the final round of this year’s FIA World Rally Championship in November.
The Border Rally Sport Team are currently overhauling the Peugeot 208 R2 and Garry together with co-driver Dave Robson will be using the Cambrian Rally in North Wales as a shakedown to test the car in October.
The cancellation of next year’s championship will of course have implications on the running of the Jim Clark Rally (JCR) which is a round of the series.
Planning for next year’s JCR is already well underway but the organisers can say nothing officially at present as they are still awaiting the preliminary outcome of the Safety Review Group.
The Group have promised to issue some form of guidelines/advice ahead of the Mull Rally in October and JCR organisers will have to take note of that too.
The police investigation is also still ongoing with intevrviews being conducted all across the country as the Police make contact with organisers, officials, marshals, competitors and spectators.
A spokesman for the rally said that the decision has already been taken to run a two day rally on Saturday and Sunday next year.
But it has still to be decided whether or not the Friday night run will go ahead.