04/10/2023 Off By admin

A new British Rally Champion was crowned at Round 6 of the 2023 Championship, the TrackRod Rally Yorkshire.

From the seaside town of Filey, the British Rally Championship arrived in North Yorkshire and returned to the Gravel after four back-to-back Asphalt rallies. Six Stages covering approximately 57 competitive stage miles would await only a handful of BRC registered crews who would compete at the event, but there was only really ever going to be one outcome.

Photos By Xlerate.Media

Frenchman Adrien Fourmaux would return to the Championship after sitting out the previous round The Rali Ceredigion, and his agenda was simply to win the event and win the Championship. There was a lack of competition this time out given that Irishman Keith Cronin had already stepped back from the Championship and to add to that, Round 5 winner James Williams would also not be making an appearance in Yorkshire. This left the likes of Garry Pearson as the only real contender who could potentially, well mathematically prevent Fourmaux from taking the crown.

It was a similar story across the field to be brutally honest, it was an even thinner entry in the Junior British Rally Championship field. JBRC leader Kyle White was not at the event which left a lowsome entry of Kyle McBride & Liam Mcintyre to get around and score maximum points. Alan Carmichael would be looking to secure his National BRC Class 7 title and would also come up against relatively next to no competition.

As in previous years, the TrackRod would set off under the cover of darkness with an opening 12 miles stage in the iconic Dalby Forest on the Friday night. Fourmaux admitted that although he would usually like to drive the M-Sport prepared Ford Fiesta Rally2 car in the dark, he actually found the stage to be more difficult than expected.

Photo: Adrien Fourmaux & Alexandre Coria | By Black Mountains Media

“This one was very special. I was enjoying it but the grip was very low, I was expecting a higher grip, it was more difficult than expected”

Adrien Fourmaux

Scotsman Garry Pearson in the VW Polo GTi R5 car would also report along similar lines at the end of the stage. 

“That was very tricky to be honest, grip varied throughout the whole thing, so it was just difficult to get a rhythm. Trying a few new things in there which probably didn’t work and struggled to get into it.” 

Garry Pearson

But when he heard that he had stopped the clocks just a second off the pace of the works driver, Fourmaux, he was understandably “Happy with that!”

Pearson who was driving the Polo on Gravel for the first time this season had also made the switch from Hankook to Pirelli rubber for this one. In the run up to the event, he had also been consulting with three times BRC Champ Matt Edwards for a few wise words; the early signs were looking promising.

Alan Carmichael was back in his trusty Hyundai R5 car following his outing of the new Rally2 Spec machine last time in Wales. Although his opening stage did feature a little drama “I stalled in the last bend and I couldn’t get the car started, we lost a lot of time at the end”, “I wanted the get the night passed so it’s all go tomorrow.”  but his target was to make it to the finish in search of his back to back BRC National titles.

Photo: Alan Carmichael & Clair Williams | By Black Mountains Media

Kyle McBride was experiencing his first-ever taste of the gravel in the darkness, “It’s a baptism of fire for sure, but happy to get through, it’s a good stage, all good”. He was another who simply had to make it to the finish of the rally to score maximum points, in order to take the fight to the final round of the Championship.

Photo: Kyle McBride & Liam Mcintyre | By Andy Cook – Xlerate.Media

The action resumed the next morning with a 6-mile test in Gale Rigg where the weather would throw in some rain for good measure, here is where Fourmaux would increase his margin over Garry Pearson by a tad over 5 seconds. Fourmaux had made some changes to the set-up of the Rally2 Fiesta which he believed to be working, providing him with more grip.

Photo: Adrien Fourmaux & Alexandre Coria | By Andrew Scott

Alan Carmichael on the other hand arrived at the stop line with the dash of the Hyundai reporting that all was “NOT OK”, “I don’t know what the screens telling me” he said at the stop line, but the car appeared to still be working.

As the morning progressed, Fourmaux continued to extend his lead out front and behind him, there wasn’t really much of a battle on to get the juices flowing between the likes of Pearson, Stephen Petch or a returning Tom Williams.

After the morning loop, Fourmaux and Co-Driver Alexandre Coria led the rally by almost 20 seconds with Pearson leading Petch by about a minute heading into the first service halt. For the rally leader, he was enjoying the Yorkshire stages and the changeable conditions.

“Sometimes we have sun, sometimes we have rain, it’s changing all the time, sometimes the grip is dry and sometimes you go in the forest and it’s completely muddy everywhere it’s slippy like hell.. Every stage is different, it is quite interesting I am really enjoying it”

Adrien Fourmaux

Photo: Adrien Fourmaux & Alexandre Coria | By Andy Cook – Xlerate.Media

Pearson who once again had Dan Barritt beside him had “A tricky morning” and with the bulk of the stages now past, the fight for keeping the title fight alive was slipping with every mile, but this rally was not about that, it was about self-improvement.

Photo: Garry Pearson & Dan Barritt | By Black Mountains Media

“Just been trying to put a few new things into place, it’s proving difficult and I just got a bit frustrated a few times” “Probably lost a bit of time in places but it is coming in some places”

Garry Pearson

Carmichael was setting decent times compared to the BRC1 competitors and although he was focused on the end prize, he wasn’t exactly hanging about, unlike our JBRC competitor, Kyle McBride.

“Ideally you want to be in a fight to push on a learn and develop. It’s a shame he (Kyle White) is not here this weekend, but we’ll keep pushing forward to develop the car and try new things while we can”

Photo: Kyle McBride & Liam Mcintyre | By Andy Cook – Xlerate.Media

Maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing to have no competition? Having the breathing space to be able to experiment with the car, its setup and driving without the pressure of having to push could prove very valuable here for the young Irish lad.

The rally would feature the two longest stages for the final loop, a repeat of the Dalby Forest stage followed by a final sting in the tale with a 13-mile stage through Langdale Forest to end the event with. Adrien Fourmaux & Alexandre Coria would indeed complete their full house of stage wins. Crossing the finish line back in Filey with a margin of 44 seconds to secure their fifth win of the season and with it taking the 2023 British Rally Championship crown, joining a plethora of big names to have won the Championship throughout the history of British Rallying.

Photo: Adrien Fourmaux & Alexandre Coria | By Andrew Scott

Garry Pearson’s efforts in gaining a consecutive second place on the podium set him in good stead for the runner-up spot heading into the final event of the season the Cambrian. Stephen Petch rounded out the BRC podium in third scoring his best result in the BRC having only taken part in three rounds this year.

Photo: Garry Pearson & Dan Barritt | By Andy Cook – Xlerate.Media

“Ok not a perfect drive at all, but we have come on leaps and bounds in terms of performance from previous rallies and I’m overwhelmed by the support! Thanks to Dan Barritt for his continued work with me along with Hannah Davison we’re making inroads with Pacenotes, Melvyn Evans Motorsport, Stuart Cant & Steven Walker for a superb car & setup. Matt Edwards for some help this week & support thank you!” 

Garry Pearson

Alan Carmichael got the job done in Yorkshire for the second time this season in his Hyundai i20 R5 to secure his back-to-back BRC National Class 7 titles. There is still the final round to contest in order to secure the overall National Drivers title but for a man who has had his fair share of ups and downs across the season, its a good result, the question now is where to next for the Irishman?

Photo: Alan Carmichael & Clair Williams | By Andy Cook – Xlerate.Media

Peddling the Motorsport Ireland backed Ford Fiesta Rally4 home for maximum JBRC points and their maiden JBRC win, was Kyle McBride alongside Liam Mcintyre who would indeed extend the title fight to the final round, the Cambrian Rally.

Photo: Kyle McBride & Liam Mcintyre | By Andrew Scott

For sure it’s not ideal having no one to fight with at the TrackRod. Despite it being a bit of a tall order, the pair will be looking ahead to the final rally of the Championship to give it one last go up against the likes of Kyle White & Sean Topping who head into the season finale as the odds on favorite’s, but as we know, this is rallying and anything could happen!

With the overall BRC drivers title unsurprisingly wrapped up by a works-backed driver, the Championship had hit a bit of a decline by the time it arrived in Yorkshire. Having the likes of Adrien Fourmaux, a current WRC2 level driver and past WRC top-flight driver competing in the series is a bit of a tricky one to unpick.

On one hand, having M-Sport sign up and put a driver in the series for the full season is a big thumbs up, just like they did with Elfyn Evans back in 2016. But on the other hand, it kind of makes for difficult justification for any other would-be National driver to invest into the Championship when the potential for reward is low, given the likely outcome would have been written on the wall after the opening round of the season.

Photo: Adrien Fourmaux & Alexandre Coria | By Black Mountains Media

M-Sport openly said that they wanted to continue their development of the Rally2 Fiesta and the BRC was the ideal place to do so. Maybe there was also the same logic behind Fourmaux taking the seat like the reasoning that was behind it when Evans did so?

Could they have considered putting another new up and coming talent from our own shores in the seat? Would that have made for a better or worse Championship? Who knows, it is what it is… but I doubt any other National Championship from anywhere else around the World would say no an M-Sport entered car!


The Motorsport UK British Rally Championship heads to Llandudno, North Wales for the final round of the 2023 season at the Cambrian Rally (October 28). World-Class gravel stages in the forests of North Wales will be joined by a returning classic test, Clocaenog main Forest for the final blast of the season.

Words By Andy Cook – Xlerate.Media | Feature Photo By Andrew Scott