Inside Revolution: Five to Watch in 2024

Thursday 14 March 2024

Motorsport UK will be overseeing 21 different British Championships this year, with a huge diversity of categories ranging from Hill Climbing to Drag Racing. As hundreds of
drivers begin their championship campaigns here are five potential stars who will be looking to stand out.

In Endurance racing, Peter Erceg is aiming to claim the overall title after winning his class twice in the last three years, while on the hills in Production Car Trials, the family
pairing of Tim and Charlie Dovey will be battling for glory. Historic Rallying has never been more competitive, and young driver George Lepley is using to showcase his skills,
while in modern Rallying, female co-driver Hannah McKillop is competing in multiple rounds of different Championships as she continues her impressive rise through the ranks.
While in Truck Racing Stuart Oliver is facing the unenvious task of ending the run of eight (yes eight!) consecutive championships for Ryan Smith – although with ten titles of
his own, he has the credentials to do it.

2024 should be a fantastic season, across the board – and with plenty of events being streamed live on Motorsport UK TV, it is time to sit down, tune in, get ready… and enjoy!

Peter Erceg

British Endurance Championship (BEC)
Audi R8 GT3 Evo II

New Zealand born racer Peter Erceg came to the UK in 1999 and has been competing on-and-off in different forms of UK motorsport ever since. He started with a season of Hill
Climbing then switched to circuit racing with the Porsche Club and did a couple of 24-hour races, including the Britcar endurance event at Silverstone. Soon after that, he was given the chance to drive a GT4 Aston Martin in British GT, in 2011, before the budget ran out.

After that he became a bit disillusioned and stopped racing altogether. It was not until his wife bought him a Porsche Taster Experience as a present that his passion for the sport
was re-ignited. “They gave me a Cayman GTS and just said ‘go for it’ and it did not take long to get back into racing again,” he says. “I went back into Porsche Club, then to 750
Roadsports, winning every race in our class, then bought a Cayman GT4 and started in Britcar.”

After winning his class, and finishing second overall in his second year, he had a season in a 991 Cup car then tried to buy a 992 Cup car – but that proved difficult. “We realised we could jump up to GT3 racing for less money than getting a 992 Cup car, so we found the Audi in Europe and got that,” he says. “The first time I drove it was in a wet and windy test at Silverstone and it did not go well – but the next day I put it on pole, and we built from there.

“We won five out of six races outright and should have won all six but we made a mistake in the pits. With myself and co-driver Marcus Clutton, we have a great driver pairing.
The challenge last year was numbers – the Championship struggled with getting the number of cars in our class to enable us to be awarded full points and that is what happened. We did not have enough numbers towards the end to have a chance of the overall championship.”

The pair won Class A last year, but they are not resting on their laurels. Despite running on a relatively low budget – part self-funded and part sponsored – they are bringing in a data engineer this season to help improve car set-up. However, in comparison to other teams that run with a dozen people or more, the aim is to race as cost effectively as possible.

Erceg has focused on improving his own performance too and adds: “I have always been pretty fit, but I have been working with a personal trainer and I also got a simulator this winter, so I have been running through the tracks. I do not necessarily always see correlation between that and the real car – sometimes I am faster in the car, sometimes in the
simulator – but it helps to keep refreshing the tracks and we are also going to do more tests this year.

One of the biggest changes this year is the team that is running the car, as the Enduro Motorsport squad that ran them last season has shut its doors. “We are with JMH this season, so we will need to get used to a new team, but they have a lot of experience so that is going to help us,” he adds. “Otherwise, we know what needs to be done – we have the
speed on the track and we just need to be error-free.

“We will start testing a month before the first race this year, so everything is a lot more controlled compared to last season, which was quite a rush. We aim to be at the pointy end of the grid again and we will give it the best run we can to pick up the overall Championship this time. It is something I have been aiming at for a while, and I think we are good enough to do it, so it is just about having the opportunity.

“The thing I really like about the British Endurance Championship (BEC) is the length of the races being two hours. Many European races for GT3 cars are only one hour and are Pro-Ams, so it typically means 20 minutes or so for the non-Pro driver. I want more time than that. In BEC you get a lot of bang for your buck, and if it grows, maybe this is where we will compete for some time.”

Tim and Charlie Dovey

British Car Trials Championship
Renault Clio

The family pairing of Tim Dovey and his 19-year-old son Charlie have been participating in Car Trials at their local Woolbridge Motor Club ever since the latter reached the entry age of 14, with sister Evie following in his footsteps three years later. Last year, the duo decided to enter the national Championship and managed to ruffle some feathers
in their Renault Clio, sharing victories between them with Tim ultimately taking the title at the end of the season.
Tim, who works as a farmer, had previously participated in Autotests, but his time was so limited he was never able to commit to anything more than the occasional outing. However, when his oldest child closed in towards the earliest competition age permitted for Trials, he decided to give it a go, and it has turned from a growing passion to a full-season family commitment.

“I really wanted to get my children involved,” he says. “I am a car person and I like fettling with the car and improving things so we started doing the local Club events, which we
have done on-and-off for the last few years. Evie is 16 now and she was third in class at the last local event. She will win a class; she is already at the stage where she could, but
sometimes just a few little mistakes put her back a bit.

“It is a really good thing for children. Our local Club has a couple of loan cars, so you do not even have to have a car, and the kids that come, they learn so much. The skills you need in trials really help them get the hang of things like clutch control and where the brakes are. Ours could drive when they were 10 or so anyway, on the farm, so they were
already ahead, but it really does make a lot of difference.

“Charlie is 19 now, so in those local events I double drive with Evie – because she is not old enough until next year to drive on her own – and Charlie will drive on his own. I won the Woolbridge Championship the year before lastand Charlie won it last year. A couple of the local rounds are run as national events, so they are already at that level, and last year Charlie and I decided to do more of the rounds and ended up doing the full season.”

Inspired and encouraged by former national champion Mark Hoppé, who runs Woolbridge’s Trials events, the Doveys first decided to enter the BTRDA Championship, which only
involved five rounds and was more local. But after buying a trailer for longer distances they decided to compete in the Motorsport UK Championship as well.

“I decided to enter, not for me to win but for Charlie,” says Tim. “He was a bit unsure, but in the end, I said ‘ok, I am going to go, whether you want to do it or not’ and he quickly
said ‘no, I am coming too’ and we entered everything in the region! We did every round apart from the ones we just could not make it to, and really, Charlie should have won but
he just made a few little mistakes, and that costs you.

“In the BTRDA final, we should have finished first and second instead of second and third, because we were winning by quite some distance – but we only managed to do half of
the sections before the car broke down. We ended up first and second in class, even though we did not do half of the sections, but because we did not complete all of them, we did
not get included in the index and that decides the winners.”

Their Renault Clio is an unusual sight on the Trials hills, as most people opt for smaller, lighter vehicles to cope with the slippery mud when the weather turns bad. However, thanks to a few (fully legal!) tweaks to the engine, the car has turned into an ideal vehicle for this form of competition and Tim explains: “We chose it just to be different, really, and I did a bit of tuning to the engine, to help the engine drop right down to tick-over to go very slowly.

“When it is really wet, you are better off with a tiny, light car and lower tyre pressures because they get around better. When it is drier, the extra power of the Clio, even though you have to run higher tyre pressures, really helps. We just went to try to win our class and have some fun, and we got on all right!”

The events usually attract a field of around 30 cars, sometimes 40, and some of the regulars have been competing for years and years. Tim adds: “They are very competitive, and they are a bit bemused if you go and win! A lot of the time, people think we are brothers, which I think is hilarious! We do look very similar, but it winds Charlie up!

Having won the title last year, Tim is open and honest in admitting he is returning in the hope that he does not win it again this time around – because he wants Charlie to have that chance. “I am really pushing him to win,” he says. “I would be really made up if he won the national championship. It is just about being more consistent and making sure he does not make any silly mistakes.

“Sometimes you can clear the section easily, but if you just touch a post by going a bit close you lose lots of points. We always choose to drive together – you are allowed to have
either one or two people in the car – and sometimes that helps if you forget things, but at other times it puts you off. Sometimes we have had, let’s say, discussions, with him pulling on the steering wheel saying ‘you are going the wrong way!’

“I am not really worried about trying to win again this year and I would much prefer him to win – for me, it brings a bigger smile to my face, but if he is not going to win and I do, then happy days. That is what happened in the last season – some rounds I dropped points and Charlie has won and vice versa. This year, again, we will just have a go and luck plays a part, for sure, so we will just see how we get on.”

George Lepley

British Historic Rally Championship
Mitsubishi Galant VR4

A sweet spot is starting to emerge in Historic Rallying. The championship is increasingly becoming seen as a proving ground for future stars, with alumni including Matt Edwards,
Osian Pryce and Marty McCormack, while the new rules permitting cars aged up to 1990 has opened the door to more contemporary competitive machinery.
George Lepley won his first title in British Junior 1000s and was the youngest BTRDA Silver Star Rally champion in 2018, driving a historic Hillman Avenger. Now behind the wheel of a Group A Mitsubishi, he has his eyes on the British Historic Championship title, hoping that a strong performance in a competitive field can help take him all the way to the top.

“There have been numerous high profile British rally driver talents come through this championship and it shows just how fast the pace is and how fierce the competition is,”
explains Lepley. “That is what makes it a great place for young drivers. If you can drive an old car fast, driving a modern car faster should be easier!

“I expect this year will be just the same as last, with the opening round having names such as WRC 2’s Chris Ingram, American Championship front-runner Barry McKenna and
regulars including Nick Elliott, Matthew Robinson and many more. When the Roger Albert Clark rally attracts the likes of Oliver Solberg and Kris Meeke, you know the pace cannot be too bad!”

Despite his relative youth, Lepley has had plenty of experience in different cars. The Hillman Avenger, he says, was “a real fan favourite” because of its “glorious sound and the ability to drive it at a lot of different angles” then he jumped into a Mitsubishi Evo X and raced against some R5 cars.

“That was not easy,” he smiles. “But we managed to win events, lots of stages and prove the Evo X still has its place in modern UK Rallying. The Evo X and the Avenger were
a total contrast to one another, but they were both so enjoyable in their own ways. It does not matter what car it is, driving something on the limit is fun!

“Group A rallying was one of the best eras in Rallying, you had to be a proper driver to throw the cars about and be quick! There is a real art to driving them after driving other cars, as there is essentially no handbrake to use, and the Galant is not one for being agile or easy to turn in! So, it made me build up a sweat by the end of the stage that’s for sure!

“Rally car development did not stop in 1982, and although I love an Escort, I think people want to see the next generation of cars and hear the bark they bring through the forests! A lot of people will remember going to watch the Lombard RAC, so as we move into that generation, it is important that Group A cars of that generation come out too.”

Lepley’s grandfather was a Rally driver, and so were his uncle and father. Now both he and his brother James compete. His Rallying, he says, requires “a lot of sacrifices” but it is all that family support that keeps him going and he adds: “I am not sure what we would do if we did not go Rallying!

“Once you have seen, heard, and driven a Rally car, it is only natural that you become hooked! I do endless hours of preparation in the workshop, I do my notes with Katie, my
mum preps all the catering, my dad is general team manager and chief mechanic, and my brother is essentially my teammate this year as we are a two-car team.”

It has been over a year since Lepley participated competitively, but asked about his expectations for 2024, his mission is clear: “Win each event and prove our speed. We are in the F3 class for 4WD Group A cars between 1986 and 1990 and I would like to win our class, but I would really like to showcase against all the Historics out there, as the pace is quick.

“There is certainly more to come from me as a driver and we will also continue to develop the car. I feel like I am just getting back into it after nearly 18 months out, so a few more
miles are needed on my back to get the most out of me, but I am just very excited to get back out on each event and the speed will come.”

Hannah McKillop-Davison

Multiple British Rally Championship

Although not planning any full championship campaigns this season, Hannah McKillop- Davison will be reading pace notes in some of the UK’s biggest Rallies this season – and
having already co-driven World Rally star Chris Ingram this year, and former Scottish Championship Jock Armstrong all last year, she is certainly used to partnering some of the best.
It was around 10 years ago that McKillop first got into the sport, trialling different forms of navigating in all sorts of different disciplines. Her husband Josh and his father Michael were competing on navigational events and encouraged her to have a go. She used it as a proving ground and a stepping stone to Stage Rallying.

“That was a great learning ground for timing and organisation,” she recalls. “I won a few novice categories back in the day, but now my heart lies with Stage Rallying and pace notes, and this year I am hoping to compete in a few rounds of various championships – British and Scottish Rally Championships, British Historic Championship and BTRDA.

“I competed in all of the above last year at one point or another, most successfully in the Scottish Rally Championship where myself and Jock led the championship all year until the last stage of the last round! Sadly, we hit a rock which put an end to our championship title but it was an amazing year with two overall wins and fantastic

McKillop-Davison grew up in Northern Ireland and attended her first rally when she was just two weeks old. Her father was a mechanic and she became more engrossed in the
sport as time went on. Now based in Scotland, she competes in around 20 events per year from national to a European level – which is why she started the year in Monte Carlo.

Teaming up with Chris Ingram, who won the European Rally Championship (ERC) in 2019, she made her World Rally Championship (WRC) debut in a Skoda Fabia RS Rally 2 and guided her experienced driver through legendary stages like the Col de Turini. The dream of reaching the finish was, unfortunately, dashed by a retirement on SS8 but it was an event she will never forget.

“Monte Carlo was an amazing experience,” she says. “I learnt a lot while I was there, but I also worked a lot on my confidence before the event and not feeling like a fish out of water, knowing I was capable of being there and believing in myself, which is something I have not really put a focus on before.

“It made a huge difference and I approached the event calm and confident. I felt completely at ease starting my first WRC event. Chris is a really talented driver, and he has such
a natural ability to get to grips with a new car, new team, and new co-driver so quickly.”

She is now hoping to compete in more WRC or ERC events as well as appearing in the top rallies on the UK scene – including some rounds of the British Championship. “My
birthday falls on the first round,” she explains. “So I am working hard to find a seat for that event – because what better way to spend your birthday!

“As much as I love the challenge of high-level championships, though, I think it is also equally important to compete with friends in a relatively low-pressure environment and appreciate all levels of the sport. Any event is a good event, and I will take on any opportunity that may come my way!

“I am also working hard to build my business in Motorsport Events Management, providing all forms of support to teams, drivers and co-drivers, and following on from Monte Carlo with a confident approach and building my profile is my main area of focus this year, as hopefully that will lead to more high-profile seats.”

Stuart Oliver

British Truck Racing Championship
Volvo VNL Truck

Trying to topple an eight-time consecutive champion is not easy, but that is the task facing the competitors in the British Truck Racing Championship this season. Ryan Smith has been dominant since stepping up into the Division 1 class in 2014, but 2023 runner-up Stuart Oliver is determined to get the better of him this year – and he has the credentials to do it.

Oliver is one of the most successful drivers in truck racing history. He first raced in the British Championship back in 1988, just missing out on the title, and has gone on to amass
a total of 10 British Championships, the European crown in 2004, two titles in India and four wins out of five in his one-off outing in the USA.

Truck racing is currently enjoying a revival in the UK – thanks, Oliver believes, to its unique highly shareable content on social media and the advent of live streaming. As well as contributing to the action on track as one if the leading drivers, Oliver is also one of the promoters of the championship itself.

This season will see 34 races over seven rounds, starting with an Easter extravaganza at Brands Hatch and including the first overseas race in five years at Le Mans. “We are building momentum and continuing to encourage new talent into the sport along with new sponsors and supporters,” says Oliver. “And we believe it is because of the unique spectacle we offer.

“Our trucks weigh 5.5-tonnes and have 12,000 BHP, so you really need an understanding of the grip limits when you are dealing with that. It is highly skilful because you have to keep full control of the weight transfer through corners at speeds up to 100mph while at the same time keeping the momentum of the engine in a very small window for maximum torque.

“I have participated in BTCC, Legends and Rallycross through the years, but truck racing actually has more in common with bike racing than car racing. We have seen that in the past, when Barry Sheene and Steve Parrish did well, and last year John McGuinness did a great job in a race truck at Donington Park.”

The modern rigs are a far cry from the “tired looking ERF race truck” that Oliver first took racing in the late 1980s and he adds: “They used to be big-engine road trucks with rough and ready modifications, but now they are really high-tech with sophisticated drivelines and suspension set-ups and telemetry systems that could operate a spaceship!”

Last season, Oliver won several races but was let down by reliability on his now ageing Volvo VNL machine, while rival Smith was able to take more than a dozen victories in his
more modern Daimler Freightliner. As a result, the champion chaser has spent much of the winter working hard to replace or rebuild many of the components that caused issues in the last campaign.

Smith is now just two titles short of Oliver’s all-time record, so the veteran racer is coming out fighting this year and says: “Truck racing is very much about reliability and last season we had just a few shocking races and some unavoidable accidents and mechanical issues that ultimately spoilt our chances of another title.”

So, how can Smith be stopped? “The simple answer is for me to be faster! Ryan is a good driver and has always had reliable trucks – and, it seems, a bit of luck on his side! I certainly have not lost my hunger to win championships – I just hope things will hold together this year and then it is down to myself to get over the finish line first as many times as I can!”