Combining rough terrain with faster sections, the BXCC combines elements of stage rallies and hill rallies, at various venues across Wales and England. Land Rovers – or vehicles based on them – are a common sight.
Although drivers must have a UK National Competition Licence and be a member of a club recognised by Motorsport UK, newcomers are encouraged to enter the Trophy series, which runs alongside the Champsionship events. The Trophy enables entry by anyone with a Clubman licence (or higher), and costs a little less, as competitors are not required to compete in as many rounds.
Competing for the Trophy in the Standard Production class will be father-and-son team, Reece (20) and Sean (51) Mathieson, in a former class-winning 1.8-litre Freelander 1. Previously owned and converted by Mike Wilson and bought by the Mathiesons in 2020, this car has been consistently earning its place on podiums since 2016.
The first two rounds of the 2021 BXCC were cancelled due to Covid-19, but the remaining four weekends in the series are expected to go ahead, starting 12-13 June in North Wales.
Family team and their winning machine
Reece takes up the story of his rally Freelander’s impressive history in the hands of its previous owner, Mike Wilson:
‘The car’s competition history is something in itself. At its rally debut in 2016, Mike finished 3rd overall in the Freelander Challenge. He finished 4th in the final Challenge in 2017, and then moved on to competing in the BXCC, where in his first year (2018) bought the Freelander home 1st in Class. The car also competed in the Welsh and Scottish Hill rallies, finishing 2nd in Wales and 1st in Scotland, giving the vehicle the title of Hill Rally Champion 2018. Then in 2019, despite rolling the car the twice, Mike Wilson and the Freelander once again bought home the Class 1 (Production Class) Championship.’
Reece and Sean are no stranger to motorsport. Reece’s debut came when only 19, in the co-driver’s seat of this Freelander in 2019, while dad Sean was co-driving for John Pickering in his V8 Land Rover Discovery. Mike and John have both given Mathiesons a lot of support for their 2021 bid.
‘The 2019 championship was what truly got me hooked,’ says Reece. ‘I had always had an interest in rallying, motorsport, and motorbikes from an early age, having followed my Dad’s hobbies, which for him started in the 90’s when he was co-driving stage rallies regularly.’
Rally Freelander specification
The 2004 Freelander 1 (with its 1.8-litre K-series engine), has received only minor modifications for the 2021 season. Limited testing opportunities due to Covid means Reece and Sean have spent more time modifying it than driving it.
The car has a 25mm lift, with camber adjustment of 14mm enabled by Powerflex camber adjustment bolts. Refurbished engine and sump guards have been fitted, and the exhaust has a custom-made back box by Glazier Leaper.
In addition to the internal roll cage, Reece and Sean have also fitted new seat rails and a Terratrip Professional intercom kit, integrated into their helmets. The tyres are Insa Turbo Eco Race Rangers (205/80 R16).
The Mathiesons are keen to welcome more sponsors to join their existing partners, who include Glazier Leaper, Powerflex and Demon Tweeks.
BXCC and Trophy details
The Britpart British Cross Country Championship caters for 13 classes of vehicle, so all Land Rovers can participate – whether only lightly modified (like our rally Freelander below) or a highly customised prototype. Competitors who book before 12 April benefit from discounted entry fees.
After Llechwedd Sale Quarry in North Wales on 12-13 June, the remaining rounds of the championship will visit Sweet Lamb in Mid Wales (17-18 July), Kielder in the North of England (18-19 September) and Walters Arena in South Wales (9-10 October).
Full details of the championship, including competitor info, can be found on the BXCC website.
Finally, if you’re unconvinced that a Freelander 1 could ever be more than a ‘soft-roader', here’s LRO’s workshop editor Martin in our 1.8-litre rally-prepped Freelander, on gravel, giving it the beans...