Escorts abound on stages

Historic rallying has never been so strong in Britain. Heading into 2004, the movement is riding high, and that success is largely due to the work of the Historic Rally Car Register.

The Armajaro MSA British Historic Rally Championship is booming and now regularly draws more than 70 cars to its mix of gravel and asphalt rallies. From the forests of north and mid-Wales to the asphalt roads of the Isle of Man and the Epynt ranges, the BHRC takes in many of the best stages in Britain. New for 2004 is a trip across the channel to the Tour of Flanders in Belgium.

The HRCR-run series is split into two categories. The historic cars in category 1 are pre-1968, while the post-historic (category 2) has a cut-off at the end of 1974. Inevitably, Fords are numerically dominant — Lotus Cortinas in the historics and Mkl Escorts in the post-historics — but the sheer range and diversity of competing cars is one of the key appeals of historic rallying.

Porsche 911s are strong performers in both age groups, while Datsun 240Zs, Sunbeam Tigers and Triumph TR4s can all shine. Inevitably, the potent BDA-powered Escorts of seasoned campaigners such as David Stokes, Ernie Graham and Richard Gower will be chasing post-historic spoils, while Dessie Nutt's 1967 Porsche will be the one to beat in the historics.

After a solid start in 2003, the HRCR Classic Rally Challenge is on a roll as it heads into 2004. A new class for 1975-81 cars opens historic rallying up to a later generation of cars, including Mk2 Escorts, Lotus Sunbeams, Vauxhall Chevettes and Triumph TR7 V8s.

The category is set to be a big growth area for historic rallying, and follows a calendar in 2004 that is closely aligned with the BHRC.

Key dates

April 3: Astra Stages

June 5: Mutiny Rally

July 29/31: Manx Historic Rally

September 11-12: Historic Tour of Flanders

October 2: Trackrod Historic rally