Lydden Hill Race Circuit in Kent was buzzing with excited drivers, team owners and media on Thursday 13 August with everyone awaiting updates about the brand new rallycross championship for 2020, the Motorsport UK British Rallycross Championship 5 Nations Trophy Presented by Cooper Tires.
The day was hosted by Lydden Hill Motorsport Club, who have now taken over management of the championship with owner of Lydden Hill, rally and rallycross legend, Pat Doran and his team doing a fantastic job coping with the difficulties caused by the current pandemic.
“We are determined to put this event on,” said Doran. “we still don’t know whether we will are going to have spectators or not, we are hoping we will do as we are running under all the right regulations. We have lost a number of competitors such as the Irish, Dutch and Belgians due to COVID limitations”
He went on to explain that the format of this new competition is the result of two years of gathering many different drivers ideas and suggestions and he believes that this will be a fantastic competition for all to enjoy.
Hugh Chambers, the CEO of Motorsport UK, is very excited to be a part of this new championship. “Rallycross for me encapsulates the thrill and excitement of motorsport into a condensed format. I really want to see rallycross grow in this country, I really think there is a tremendous opportunity with the right promotion, the right marketing and the right team behind it we can really build this into a much much bigger sport and much more important sport. I really am excited for the future of rallycross in the hands of these new promoters”
Chambers explained how rallycross as a sport has been ‘motorsports best-kept secret’ despite its exciting conception back in 1967 with the cancellation of the RAC Rally.
“It was a case of what can we do with all of these rally cars that can’t compete this year so let’s get them to Lydden Hill and let them go round and round. It was on Grandstand on the BBC in the afternoon.”
“If rallycross is a secret discipline then Lydden is a secret venue, it just hasn’t had the level of visibility. Its an amazing location and the fact that it’s so close to the rest of Europe, you know, through the tunnel, picking up audiences from France, Belgium and Holland.”
When asked about his thoughts on the future of rallycross, Chambers believes that there are definitely some changes coming which will be more environmentally friendly.
“Down the line, it lends itself to electrification, obviously you lose some of the DNA of the noise and visceral excitement. If there is a discipline that would be ideal for transitioning to an environmentally friendly environment, then rallycross really does lends itself and I think rallycross has a great future.”
Cooper Tires are the exclusive tyre provider for the 5 Nations Championship for the next three years and had an impressive tyre changing operation set up on the day for drivers who were testing at the circuit with social distancing in place and even a wheel sanitising station for drivers where they would drop off their wheels to have new rubber fitted and collect later.
“Cooper Tires are absolutely overjoyed to be involved in this project,” said Paul Coates the General Manager of Motorsport for Cooper Tires. “I know it’s got a lot of hurdles to get over with the coronavirus at the moment. We are involved right across Europe, in the nordic regions and in world rallycross. It made sense to be involved in the UK.”
There are no current plans for TV broadcasting or live streaming of races in this new championship but the promotors will be concentrating on high-quality social media content and video clips on Youtube. The best way to experience rallycross is to get to a track and watch the action live, hear the engines roar and feel your heart race as the cars fly past at high speeds, often sideways.
The opening round will be at Lydden Hill on August 30/31, followed by double-header events at Knockhill on September 25/26, Pembrey over the weekend of October 17/18 and finishing with a single-header final at Mondello Park on November 14/15.