It’s great when a much-talked-about event takes off – and the Welsh Borders Hill Rally, taking place May 27-29, is one of those events.
With a multi-site format, with road link sections connecting them, the event echoes the first Welsh Hill Rally in 1971 – which Land Rover’s Roger Crathorne won in a then-new Range Rover. Even some members of the organizing team have ties to the event, with the involvement of Land Rover stalwart David Mitchell.
“Events based on French events,” says organizer Neil Rogers, “where, in addition to competition, it’s about encouraging people to come to the area and use local services.” The event will be based in the Welshpool and Newtown area, with the service area being at the Welshpool Livestock Market, so visitors can drop by and speak to the service crews. “We want to involve the region and the inhabitants, so that they benefit.”
© Land Rover
The first events were created after World War II, when French farmers with ex-military Jeeps raced to the top of a hill, and the scene has exploded ever since, with the Summit Rally being one of the most popular on the channel.
Since vehicles must be able to circulate on the road between the sections, they must be homologated for the road. “We are aiming for 60 vehicles. I was wondering if we would have 60 registered road racers, but people are picking them up from all sorts of places. At the moment it looks like there will be a few Discovery 1s, a handful of Freelanders and a few Tomcats as well as Defenders and Defender-based cars. On top of that there will be side-by-side (SSV) racers and “prototypes” – those built purely for racing work. For 2022, Land Rover will be present under the guise of Bowler Motorsport – it is expected to be a round of the Defender Bowler Challenge.
And the running order will be designed to give everyone an equal playing field, as well as to minimize disruption on the ground. Production vehicles will leave first, followed by SSVs and then prototypes. Running it this way means that the course won’t cut as much as if run in the reverse order.
The vehicle classes are listed in the special regulations (SR) of the event available on the Welsh Borders Rally website. Entries open at 7.00pm on 31st January 2022. “I have tried to standardize the rules for all events to make it easier to attend different events in the UK – there were a host of different rules in the past”, explains Neil. “The new ones are a bit more compatible with French events.”
To be able to compete, vehicles must be up to the task Motorsport United Kingdom off-road standard – full roll bars, bucket seats, harnesses, fire extinguishers, etc., plus additional safety equipment, such as high level warning lights.
The course will be approximately 541 km (336 miles) and will include approximately 104 km (64 miles) of cross-country special stages.
Unfortunately, there won’t be any spectator areas on the sections, but if you want to see the action, you can still congregate; without marshals, events cannot unfold. “We have some great prizes up for grabs for commissioners,” says Neil.
If they manage to secure a place on the event, LRO editor Neil Watterson will sail for Phil Griffiths in the Td4 Freelander 1 he is building – so expect more updates here approaching the event.