The British Rally Championship gets underway on 31 May 2021 at the Neil Howard Stages in association with Graham Coffey & Co Solicitors Rally at Oulton Park in Chesire. One man who will be looking to start his season strong is Irishman Alan Carmichael, who this year will be aiming to claim top honours in the BRC National Rally Championship.
Running alongside the main BRC Championship, the National Championship is an ‘open class’ series allowing competition for non-homologated vehicles. Carmichael will look to compete in Class 7 of the National Championship, which allows for FIA Rally5 cars converted to right-hand-drive. The vehicle that Carmichael will use in his bid for success is a right-hand-drive converted Hyundai i20 R5.
Carmichael will be looking to do one better than his last BRC National Rally Championship effort, runner-up in the 2019 series, and after a covid cancelled season last year, sees this year’s BRC National Championship as a perfect way to go rallying in 2021.
“I’ve been around a long time now and I can afford to be selective with my plans, I love the atmosphere of the British rally Championship and the National title is a great way for me to compete in a relatively new car [Hyundai i20 R5] even though it’s converted to right-hand-drive,” he says.
With such competitive machinery at his disposal, and having a runners-up spot already taken care of, it seems a title challenge is only natural for the man hailing from Ballymena, County Antrim. However, Carmichael is looking to avoid the stressors and pressure of a title fight.
“I really want to race people and it’s looking like there will be a good entry for it so it should be great craic. I used to be out there pushing like mad and getting quite stressed about it all. But I wasn’t enjoying it much and was taking it way too seriously, now I just enjoy every stage. I know my limits and I`m just out for fun but I certainly want to take the title”.
Carmichael maybe being too modest, as he has a wealth of experience piloting a variety of different Rally vehicles. Most notably, the Irishman has competed behind the wheel of a MINI WRC and Subaru Impreza S7 WRC and can boast about winning the National Section of the Ulster Rally in 2016. Not only does the Irishman have experience and competitive machinery on his side, but also familiarity too, in the face of long-time co-driver Claire Williams, and Carmichael seems delighted to have the Welsh co-driver back on board;
“…it will also be great to have Claire [Williams] in the car with me again. She is a great co-driver and just gets on with the job but is great fun too.”
The new Hyundai purchase from Carmichael, won’t feel all too unfamiliar when he gets out on the first stages of the season. In 2019, he rented a PCRS Rallysport Hyundai. Hopefully, for himself and his co-driver, Carmichael will hit the ground running with his new Hyundai i20 R5 when the reach Oulton Park at the end of May, an event which has the Irishman feeling quietly confident;
“Circuits and single venues are really my thing” he muses, “ so I should feel right at home at Oulton Park. I’ve spent a lot of time doing those kinds of events in the past and I really enjoy them so I feel very comfortable with that as the first round of the season. It may take a while for the youngsters to adapt to it but I`ve got my sights set on an overall podium. Wouldn’t that be a great way to start off the season!”
Optimism, experience, and proven machinery. The stage is set for Alan Carmichael to have an enthralling 2021 BRC National Championship season.