It’s great when an event that’s been talked about a lot gets off the ground – and the Welsh Borders Hill Rally, running on 27-29 May, is one of those events.
Having a multi-venue format, with road liaison sections linking them, the event has echoes of the first Welsh Hill Rally in 1971 – which Land Rover’s Roger Crathorne won in a then-new Range Rover. Even some of the organising crew have links to that event, with Land Rover stalwart David Mitchell being involved.
‘The events based on the French events,’ explains organiser Neil Rogers, ‘where as well as the competition, it’s to encourage people into the area and use the local services.’ The event will be based in the Welshpool and Newtown area, with the service area being at the livestock market in Welshpool, so visitors will be able to drop in and talk to the service crews. ‘We want to get the local area and locals behind it, so they benefit.’
The first events were created after WW2, when French farmers with ex-military Jeeps had a race to the top of a hill, and the scene has boomed ever since, with the Rallye Des Cimes being one of the most popular over the channel.
With the vehicles needing to be able to drive on the road between the sections, they have to be road-legal. ‘We’re aiming for 60 vehicles. I did wonder whether we would get 60 road-registered racers, but people are unearthing them 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 that are built solely for the job of racing. For 2022, Land Rover will be in attendance in the guise of Bowler Motorsport – it is set be one round of the Bowler Defender Challenge.
And the running order will be designed to give everyone a level playing field, as well as minimising ground disturbance. The production vehicles will head-off first, followed by the SSVs and then the prototypes. Running it this way means the course won’t get cut up as much as if it was run in the opposite order.
The classes of vehicle are listed in the event’s supplemental regulations (SRs) are available on the Welsh Borders Hill Rally website. Entries open at 19.00 on 31 January 2022. ‘I’ve tried to standardise the regulations for all events to make it simpler for competing in different events in the UK – there were a load of different rules in the past,’ explains Neil. ‘The new ones are a bit more compatible with French events.’
To be able to compete, the vehicles must be up to Motorsport UK cross-country standard – full roll cages, bucket seats, harnesses, fire extinguishers, etc, as well as being fitted with additional safety equipment, like high-level warning lights.
The route will be approximately 541km (336 miles) and will include approximately 104km (64 miles) of cross-country special stages.
Unfortunately, there won’t be any spectator areas on the sections, but if you do want to see the action you can always marshal; without marshals the events can’t run. ‘We’ve got some great prizes up for grabs for the marshals,’ says Neil.
If they manage to get a place on the event, LRO editor Neil Watterson will be navigating for Phil Griffiths in the Td4 Freelander 1 that he’s currently building up – so expect more updates on here on the run up to the event.