Mike Williams will contest the 2018 Protyre MSA Asphalt Rally Championship in his Group N MG ZR 160 – which has been fitted with a new six-speed sequential gearbox and a Hellier Performance 1900k Series engine ahead of the opening round, the Melvyn Evans Motorsport Tour of Epynt (10-11 March).
Co-driven by Ken Bills, this year marks the experienced Shropshire driver’s 40th year in rallying – and he’s making an all out attempt at the 2-litre class.
Mike has a fascinating rally history – which he tells us in his own words:
“My first event was the Knowsley Safari Rally back in 1978 and this was followed by a few years of messing about doing odd gravel and asphalt events. I realised that the only way to do it properly, and at a cost I could afford, was to build my own car and complete in the 1300 class. A nice new shiny red Mk2 1300 x/f Escort was ready for the second half of the 1985 season and five class wins set us up nicely for the 1986 season which was a great year and brought 12 class wins and first in class in both the Motoring News Tarmac and Welsh Tarmac Championships.
“The following year, I saw an advertisement in a monthly rally mag for the Vauxhall Bonus Scheme. With good money for international class wins, I took out a loan and bought a Group N Nova and entered the 1988 British Open Championship. Four class wins, including my favourite event the Welsh, led to first in Group N.
“The bonus money from Vauxhall enabled me to move up to Group A for the following year and for a couple of years achieved second and third places in class but no wins. So back to Group N and this time a Nova 1600, and with the usual brilliant support from my volunteer service crew and the expert support from Harry Hockly Motorsport, the car was superb. We entered the 1992 British Open Championship and the Vauxhall single make Nova GSI Challenge. It was a tough battle all year but we managed to pull off enough wins to achieve first Group N 1600 in the British Rally Championship and first overall in the Vauxhall Nova GSI Challenge.
“The prize for winning the Challenge was an entry into the 1992 Lombard RAC Rally. None of us had ever done it before and we were all excited at the prospect. As it turned out it was one of those events when everything went well and we finished first in class Group N 1600 and 25th overall.
“I then retired in order to concentrate on earning a living, but by 2007 withdrawal symptoms were too great and I bought a Group N MG ZR 160. I didn’t do much with it for a few years due to work commitments, but since I retired in 2013 I have developed the car to be as competitive as possible in the 2-litre class. New for this year is a six-speed sequential gearbox and along with a new Hellier Performance 1900k Series engine. We’re looking forward to seeing how close we get to the class leaders – you can always hope!”