Revving up for the BRC

Tuesday 12 March 2024

Set in the beautiful Lake District, last weekend’s Malcolm Wilson Rally not only ran to an exciting new format but also acted as the perfect shakedown for several of the crews revving up for this year’s eagerly-anticipated Probite British Rally Championship. 

While still based at M-Sport’s impressive Dovenby Hall HQ near Cockermouth and supported by the organisation’s CEO Malcolm Wilson, the new format included two stages on the Friday evening and provided a total of 43 miles of timed competition on classic gravel tracks maintained by Forestry England. 

As a round of many of the country’s premier series including BTRDA and Motorsport UK English Rally Championships, the 2024 Malcolm Wilson Rally attracted more than 90 entries. 

From the outset, it was two BRC crews which set the pace in their Ford Fiesta Rally2s. After setting identical times on the opening stage, Elliot Payne co-driven by Patrick Walsh and Garry Pearson with Hannah McKillop alongside were locked in a thrilling duel for the lead.  

Pearson, making his M-Sport debut having recently signed for the team for the forthcoming 2024 BRC season, grabbed a slender advantage through stages two, three and four but the duelling Fiestas were again tied entering the penultimate stage: Grizedale North. Pearson’s hopes, however, were then deflated by a puncture leaving Payne clear to take an impressive victory.  

Though the BRC opens on asphalt with the Legend Fires North West Stages on 22-23 March, both Payne and Pearson will have gained confidence from their respective experiences on the gravel tracks of Cumbria. And, with this year’s BRC featuring a stellar, star-studded entry, the extra mileage accrued could prove invaluable. 

If the Malcolm Wilson Rally is anything to go by, this year’s revitalised BRC is certain to be a really thrilling opening encounter…