Former works rally driver Neil Simpson is set to make a long-awaited return to the MSA British Rally Championship in a Simpsons Škoda Fabia R5.
Simpson last competed in the national championship 16 years ago driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI, but he is better remembered for driving the factory Volkswagen Golf TDI to a career-high seconds place at the 1999 Manx International Rally.
The 42-year-old stopped rallying in 2001 to concentrate on the family business but returned to the sport in 2014, driving an ex-Esapekka Lappi Fabia S2000 on a number of British and European events, including an impressive fifth place on the 2014 Geko Ypres Rally.
Simpson sold the ex-works Fabia S2000 to make way for a brand new Fabia R5 towards the end of 2015, giving the car it’s UK debut on the Neil Howard Stages Rally at Oulton Park in November.
“It’s been sixteen years since I last contested the British Rally Championship,” said Simpson. “So I can’t wait to get going again. It will be in at the deep end on the opening round, as the Mid Wales Stages will be my first competitive outing on gravel since 2001, but I’m looking forward to it.
“The time feels right to make a return to the BRC. The series is now moving in what I believe to be the right commercial direction, and in the ŠKODA Fabia we have the best R5 car available. Both from a personal sporting perspective and for Simpsons ŠKODA as a business marketing exercise, the revitalised BRC is just too tempting an opportunity to ignore, as there are good rallies covering a wide area of the UK and I believe the coverage and publicity will be very good indeed.
“There is going to be a lot of stiff competition in this year’s BRC, with a lot of good drivers in good cars. I have to be realistic about my chances, but I’d certainly like to think I’d be able to challenge for a top five finish early on and for podiums and an outright win later on in the season, once I’ve got back in the swing of it. We’ve certainly got the team, car and ambition to come out fighting.”
Joining Simpson for the BRC season will be co-driver Elliott Edmondson with the pair being backed by Pirelli, Techron Fuel System Cleaners, Lockton MIS Insurance, Speedline Corse and Xpression Event Solutions.
The first round of the MSA British Rally Championship will be held on March 5-6 on the Mid Wales stages.