As always, the start of the 2016 motorsport season was marked by the Autosport International show at the NEC in Birmingham. And I was there, with Special Stage to kick our #RallyTV season off.
Aside from the vast array of inspiring machinery on display (see how inspiring here), rallying had some big stories to tell this year, and at the centre of those was the launch of the British Rally Championship.
As a rally child of the nineties, the news that both Skoda and Vauxhall are returning to the series for 2016 is exciting enough, but then you factor in D-mack fielding two M-Sport Fiestas with Elfyn Evans and Max Vatanen, and a whole host of leading names from world rallying and things start to get really interesting.
Of course, in all this BRC excitement, it’s important to remember that the BTRDA remains the rally championship for the UK; accessible and high profile, with some of the country’s best rallies and an unbeatable variety of cars and drivers. I’m delighted to be hosting the TV Series once more for the BTRDA, and can actually not wait for the first round to get underway next month in North Wales.
I’d be doing you a disservice if I pretended I wasn’t disappointed not to be presenting the British Rally Championship, but they’re doing their own thing commercially, so my passion will have to be on the sidelines – as a rally fan. As it has always been, incidentally.
Well done to the team behind the championship – they’ve done a superb job of launching the series, and it really does look like we could see a return to the days when the BRC was second only to the World Rally Championship in terms of profile.
I’m writing this, glancing at the clock because I’m on the road early to get to Croft for the next round of the Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship, and of course that is one of the other big stories of 2016. For once we weren’t all twiddling our thumbs during the ‘off-season’, we were out competing on, watching and presenting at a very competitive rally series, which kicks back off this weekend.
I’m looking forward to seeing you all in 2016 – here’s to big things. For now, here’s a look at what stories rallying had to tell at the Autosport International show…