The long-lived rally threatened by COVID-19

Skoda Fabia at the 2020 Malcolm Wilson Rally (Credit: BTRDA)

The British Touring and Rally Drivers’ Association (BTRDA) is a long-standing rally series established in 1938 – but now it’s very existence is under threat from COVID-19.

Nick Pollitt, the chairman of the British Trials and Rally Drivers Association, said: “Rally has suffered tremendously.

“We haven’t been allowed to go into the forests to use them for rallying.”

The lack of events in the last year have meant that membership numbers have dwindled for the series.

Pollitt expects it to get even worse before it gets better.

“We still haven’t been allowed in the forest yet and I can’t see that starting for another two to three months at least.”

Mitsubishi Evo at 2020 Cambrian Rally (Credit: BTRDA)

This means that the BTRDA has had to cancel the Malcolm Wilson rally, which was planned to run in March. The Lake District based race has been a staple of the rally series for decades.

When the pandemic originally broke out, it was a confusing time for many, including those at the BTRDA.

Chairman Pollitt said: “We had to quickly decide whether we were going to revamp the whole championship or just cancel the whole thing.”

But when restrictions were lifted for summer, they saw “a chance of organising some sport” which many missed.

The original schedule for 2021

Some series such as the Allrounders and Sporting Trials did go ahead for some of 2020 with Pollitt saying the organisation had received more entries than usual.

Due such lack of action, many wanted to get involved, so more people attended events, making them more competitive.

The pandemic has also pushed the BTRDA to modernise it’s signing up process for events, with everything now being done online.

Richard Yapp’s Mazda MX5 at the Allrounders championship in 2020 (Credit: BTRDA)

Rallying will ned a big push to find itself back at pre-pandemic levels of membership.

But with the vaccine being rolled out throughout the country, there is the possibility that rallying will soon return to a forest near you.