Site icon 2023 Protyre MUK Asphalt Rally Championship

Callum Black and Jack Morton win the 40th anniversary Protyre MSUK Asphalt Rally Championship title

Callum Black and Jack Morton are the 2023 Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship drivers’ and co-drivers’ champions, having scored maximum points on both days of the double header JDS Machinery Rali Ceredigion (2-3 September).

The new champions won the title for the first time on the 40th anniversary of the UK’s premier sealed surface series, and were the only crew to score maximum points on more than one round, with victory the Manx National (day two), Argyll Rally and the penultimate and final rounds held over the two day Rali Ceredigion.

In a masterful performance, the 586 Sport crew finished an impressive 41.8 seconds ahead of their nearest rivals on day one, which took in six demanding closed road stages in the Cambrian Mountains and two runs over the Aberystwyth street stage. Despite their incredible pace, they never put a mark on their Pirelli-shod Pallas Connections Ford Fiesta Rally2 to take the full 30 points on the penultimate round.

Neil Roskell/Andrew Roughead still led the championship at this point, having picked up third place points despite a spin on SS2 and fearing that the gearbox on their Michelin-shod ND Civils/Burdens/Witham Motorsport Ford Fiesta Rally2 was on the way out. This meant that Black needed to finish inside the Protyre Asphalt top 10 on day two of the event (the eighth and final round of the series) and that any major mishap would see Roskell lift the title.

The spectacular Nant y Moch stage was to prove decisive. Black picked up a front left puncture, but luckily it happened just a mile from the finish and he was able to complete the stage with minimal time loss. Roskell, meanwhile, failed to reach the end of SS11, having badly damaged the front of his car mid-stage.

Black still had to finish the event to overtake Roskell at the top of the leaderboard, and he made no mistakes over the final 22.31 stage miles of the 2023 Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship to win the title for the first time. 

“Winning the Protyre Asphalt title was the plan at the start of the year, but it wasn’t easy to do and I’m pleased that we’ve got the pace on asphalt to achieve what we set out to do,” said Black.

“It all got a bit interesting after the Down Rally when we had a DNF and we knew that we pretty much had to win the last two rounds at Rali Ceredigion to win the title, but the confidence was there in the car, neither Jack nor myself made any mistakes this weekend and everything worked really well.

“It’s a brilliant championship and we’ll give it some serious thought about coming back and defending our title.”

James Ford scored second placed Protyre Asphalt points on day one, despite a dramatic opening day in his Sligo Pallets-backed Citroën C3 Rally2. Co-driven by Neil Shanks, Ford lost the brakes on the opening loop of stages and then lost part of the front of the car after hitting a chicane in the afternoon. He only had 15 minutes in service to replace the radiator, but the car looked like new again when Ford started the Aberystwyth stage, and second placed points at the end of the day was just reward. 

Ford also suffered brake problems on day two, which contributed to a 1min 50sec penalty for leaving service late and which dropped him down to fourth on the final round. The big double points score in Wales did rocket the Preston driver up to seventh in the overall standings at the end of the year, with his victory on the Jim Clark the highlight of the season.

Kevin Davies rebounded from a big off on the Manx National to score two excellent double header results on Rali Ceredigion. Co-driven by Owain Davies, the Pencader driver used all his Welsh road rallying experience to bravely attack the bumpy and twisty narrow lanes in his Melvyn Evans Motorsport-prepared Cobra Hydraulics-backed Volkswagen Polo GTI R5. The former road rally stars ended the season ninth in the standings after four big scores – proving that they’d be title contenders if they did the full championship.

Steve Wood picked up a front puncture halfway through the long 17 mile Cwm Ystwyth test (SS3) and when he stopped his Sligo Pallets-backed Citroën C3 Rally2 to change it he discovered that the jack wouldn’t work. By the time the 2022 Protyre Asphalt champion and co-driver Kenny Hull had reached the flying finish, a stage maximum was their unfortunate reward. That signalled the end of any chances of a good result, and things didn’t get better in the afternoon when they stopped with a slipping clutch. They had a much better run on day two, picking up third place Protyre Asphalt points.

Subaru Imprezas are becoming a rare breed, and so a fans’ favourite was the Chevron Motorsport-prepared ITG Subaru Impreza STi driven by Richard Clews/Carl Williamson. Two excellent Protyre Asphalt results (fifth and seventh) propelled the Coventry driver into the overall top 10 at the end of the season.

Ant Eaton/Ian Jackson put in two of their best performances of the season on Rali Ceredigion as well, with the Northallerton driver scoring his fourth top 10 Protyre Asphalt finish of the season in his Autotest Ford Fiesta R5. High scores from Round 3 onwards rewarded Eaton with a classy fifth in the overall drivers’ standings.

After numerous differential and transmission issues this year, Steven Ormond-Smith had a good and clean run in his ORMCO Accounts/Manx Rally Sport Mitsubishi Evo 9. Partnered for the first time by Callum Young, the Isle of Man driver scored two top 10 Protyre Asphalt results, despite a big spin on SS2, to climb to 11th in the overall standings, and runner-up in class B14.

Lee and Cole Hastings started cautiously, as their first attempt at the event came off the back of crashing their John Gibson & Sons-backed Subaru Impreza last time out. They finished third in class B14 on day one, but their hopes of finishing in the runners-up position came to an end when they retired on day two.

Mike English (co-driven by Simon Hunter) had an eventful day one in his Proact-backed Fiesta Rally2, which included a spin and stall on SS1, two stalls and an overshoot on SS2 and a spin at a hairpin on SS5. He got into his rhythm on day two, to post another good finish in one of the prettiest cars in the field.

Chris Ford clouted a chicane on day one, but as his confidence grew with his Citroën C3 Rally2 so did his pace and, together with Neil Colman, ended the event with some impressive stage times – and the R5 class title.

Darren Atkinson came to Rali Ceredigion to secure third in the overall drivers’ standings – which he successfully did in his Haldane Fisher Escort Mk2. Co-driven for the first time by Matt Daniels, the Lancaster man wasn’t able to recce all the stages (and most stages only once) but that didn’t prevent him putting in another extraordinary performance. In the end he walked away with an incredible third in the overall standings, plus the class B13 and Escort Challenge titles. 

Brad Cole slipped to fourth in class B13 after electrical issues and finally alternator failure put him and co-driver Jamie Vaughan out on day one. They did fight back and finish second in class in their Trick Motorsport-prepared Hydroline Solutions 2.5-litre Escort Mk2 on day two.

Two class B13 podiums in Ceredigion saw Andy Scott finish runner-up in his P.A.C.E. Escort Mk2, while his partner Ian Robertson won the co-drivers’ title.

Having to swap cars on the eve of the event cost Will Hill hopes of finishing in the top three overall, although he had little option having damaged the gearbox on his four-wheel drive 1.5 litre EcoBoost engine Hills Ford Fiesta Rally3 on the non-championship Mewla Rally. Having already secured the class B14 title, he and Richard Crozier appeared instead in a front-wheel drive, four cylinder, 1.6-litre normally-aspirated Fiesta R200 – and set out on their normal giant-killing antics in the much less powerful car. Finishing fourth in the overall drivers’ standings is still a magnificent achievement.

Will Rowlands/Emyr Hall secured the Historic class H9 title after finishing the season with a double maximum points score in their Ford Escort RS1800 Mk2. The pair also won the new BTRDA Historic Asphalt Cup title, despite the best efforts of class H8 winners Graham Muter/Steve Hallmark (Escort Mk2).

Will Onions (co-driven by Dave Williams) were also on inspired form in their Hoosier-shod Motorcraft-backed Escort Mk2, with two second place class finishes. The Shewsbury driver had closed to within eight points of second placed Geoff Roberts (co-driven for the first time by Jack Bowen) who took the runners-up spot in his Escort RS1800 Mk2. It wasn’t such a good event for Rob Smith/Alun Cook, who didn’t pick up any points this time out in their RS1800.

Michael Harbour clinched the class B11 title in his two-litre Vauxhall engined VS Pro Pressure Washing Services/Miller Waste Water Escort Mk2 – with his co-driver Ian MacDougall winning the class B11, Escort Challenge and Junior titles. 

Geoff Glover/Keith Barker finished second in class after taking home a pair of third place finishes in Wales in their self-prepared rear-wheel drive Vauxhall Astra Mk3.

Nick Heard/Oliver Mathison scored their best result of the season, taking home second place B11 points in their Ginetta G40 on the final round, while Malcolm Boyd/Brian Stubbs’ season ended when they slipped their Escort Mk2 off the road and into a field on SS9.

With the early season teething problems well and truly sorted, Jonathan Stepney/Aled Davies finished on a high with a second place finish on the penultimate round and a class win on the final round in their rapid Gavin Griffiths Group/Motorhome Services Scotland Renault Clio Sport 2.0 16v.

Nicky Cowperthwaite/Helen Hall Cowperthwaite stopped with suspected fuel pump issues on day one, but having changed that and other parts their Cowperthwaites Garage/H&K Travel Opel Corsa’s engine cut out on the second stage of day two. A double DNF cost them the chance of the class B9 title, which goes to Mark and Andrew Constantine (Kwiktrak-backed Vauxhall Corsa S1400).

Action from Rali Ceredigion is available to view on the Special Stage TV Facebook and YouTube pages, with commentary from Mark James and Paul Woodford – plus special guests Hugh Hunter, Matthew Jackson and Nigel Evans (co-founder of the Asphalt Rally Championship). The total views from the Rali Ceredigion coverage (at the time of writing) is well in excess of 300,000 and climbing.

More information on the Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship is available at:

Rali Ceredigion – top 10 registered 2023 Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship finishers (after SS14): 
1. Callum Black/Jack Morton (Ford Fiesta Rally2)….1hr 26mins 18.1secs
2. James Ford/Neil Shanks (Citroën C3 Rally2)….1hr 29mins 29.1secs
3. Kevin Davies/Owain Davies (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5)….1hr 29mins 57.4secs
4. Darren Atkinson/Matt Daniels (Ford Escort Mk2)….1hr 34mins 25.1secs
5. Richard Clews/Carl Williamson (Subaru Impreza STi)….1hr 34mins 33.5secs
6. Will Rowlands/Emyr Hall (Ford Escort RS1800 Mk2)….1hr 34mins 54.5secs
7. Anthony Eaton/Ian Jackson (Ford Fiesta R5)….1hr 38mins 21.3secs
8. Will Onions/Dave Williams (Ford Escort Mk2)….1hr 38mins 31.3secs
9. Steven Ormond-Smith/Callum Young (Mitsubishi Evo 9)….1hr 38mins 48.2secs
10. William Hill/Richard Crozier (Ford Fiesta R200)….1hr 39mins 11.3secs

2023 Protyre Motorsport UK Asphalt Rally Championship
Final overall driver points (after Round 8): 
1. Callum Black….174pts
2. Neil Roskell….163pts
3. Darren Atkinson….145pts
4. Will Hill….139pts
5. Ant Eaton….118pts
6. Will Rowlands….117pts

Final overall co-driver points: 
1. Jack Morton….174pts
2. Andrew Roughead….163pts
3. Richard Crozier…143pts
4. Ian Jackson…126pts
5. Emyr Hall….111pts
6. Matt Daniels…109pts

Final class winning positions: 
 Mark Constantine
Co-driver: Andrew Constantine

Lewis Gatt
Co-driver: Richard Crozier

Michael Harbour
Co-driver: Ian MacDougal

Sam Adams
Co-driver: Michael Johnston

Darren Atkinson
Co-driver: Ian Robertson

Will Hill
Co-driver: Richard Crozier

Callum Black
Co-driver: Jack Morton

Archie Swinscoe
Co-driver: Jane Nicol

Chris Ford
Co-driver: Neil Colman

Graham Muter
Co-driver: Stephen Hallmark

 Will Rowlands
Co-driver: Emyr Hall

BTRDA Historic Asphalt Cup
 Will Rowlands
Co-driver: Emyr Hall

Escort Challenge
Darren Atkinson
Co-driver: Ian MacDougall

Sam Adams
Co-driver: Ian MacDougall

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