Jun 05, 2021
For 25 year old Kyle White from Dunmurry, County Antrim, last Monday’s Neil Howard Stages Rally, round one of the Motorsport UK British Rally Championship (BRC) based at the Oulton Park racing circuit in Cheshire, was a landmark event. Kyle and co-driver Sean Topping announced their arrival into the BRC in their Peugeot 208 R2 with a superb second place in the Junior category. It was an excellent way to start their campaign, after a fast and controlled drive against the newer generation Rally 4 equipped crews saw them just eleven seconds behind at the end of the day.
“We are absolutely delighted with the result! We really didn’t expect to finish as high. The competition was fierce but we had a good day and the car ran faultlessly. It’s an ideal start for us and puts us in a strong position for the championship going forward. To be truthful I never even thought I would get the chance to compete in the BRC. It was an almost surreal experience for me, and we were made very welcome by everyone. It was just great!” said Kyle.
The global pandemic has changed things and the inclusion of the circuit based Neil Howard Stages was an ideal way to kick-off the BRC in 2021. It provided a unique challenge, using the racing circuit, it’s many in-field roads, and even a water-splash to cool down the cars on what was a scorching Bank Holiday Monday! The event didn’t get off to a great start for Kyle and Sean, whose seeding back in the seventies was to prove costly. “We had a problem with our seeding and we were catching cars on the first four tests. We got caught behind a Talbot Sunbeam on stage two for a whole lap. On stage four at one point we got into a convoy of four cars, but I suspect others had delays too. On the third stage we had a clean run, with no hold ups, and that gave us our first fastest Junior BRC time which really was a special moment. By that stage we were really getting into it, enjoying the stages, and our Michelin tyres were working brilliantly.”
The fifth of the eight special stages gave the crew quite a surprise! “With several laps the cars merge at some points, and I got a big fright when a Mitsubishi Evo came out of a merge and nearly collected the side of my car! It actually spooked me, and I over-shot the next junction as it knocked my concentration. I needed to focus fully though as the final stages used much more of the faster Touring car circuit, and our R2 car was definitely lacking the legs of the more powerful Rally 4 Fiesta’s. It was a matter of going flat-out to hang onto our second place which we did thankfully.”
It’s a good start for the family run team, and Kyle sees the Junior BRC as an important step to further his ambitions in the sport. “The next round is on the Welsh gravel, the Nicky Grist Stages on July 10th. I have no knowledge of the Welsh stages, but we are hoping our previous experience gained in the Motorsport Ireland Forest Championship will be a benefit for the loose surface driving.”
Kyle is thankful for the assistance from Finaghy Cleaning & Support Services, LA Distribution NI Ltd, Jetvent Limited, Snap-On Tools and Gary White Car Sales, but if he could attract more backing he would very much like to trade up to the Rally 4 machines of his rivals. “We will see what happens, but we realised on Monday that these newer cars are faster than we thought. It would be nice to be on a level playing field, but for now we will work to the best of our abilities with what we have.”
Motorsport UK Junior British Rally Championship Calendar 2021
31 May – Neil Howard Stages, Oulton Park, England – Asphalt
10 July – Nicky Grist Stages, Builth Wells, Wales – Gravel
14 August- Grampian Forest Rally, Banchory, Scotland – Gravel
24/25 September -Trackrod Rally Yorkshire, England – Gravel
8/9 October – Beatson’s Building Supplies Mull Rally, Isle of Mull – Asphalt
30 October -Visit Conwy Cambrian Rally, Llandudno, Wales – Gravel
20 November- Today’s Ulster Rally, Northern Ireland- Asphalt
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