ARA, WRC, BRC – How Tilley’s indulging his rallying passion

A successful circuit racer who's finally living his rallying dream too, Kyle Tilley will be a favorite for success in this year's ARA


Five months ago the world of rallying was introduced to Kyle Tilley.

A successful circuit racer in the US and Asian Le Mans series, Tilley was no stranger to competition but as he pulled up to SS1 at Ojibwe Forests Rally in his 2005 Mitsubishi Evo late last August, no-one expected him to be one of the favorites for a National championship less than half a year later.

But since then Tilley has competed in seven additional rallies in four different countries, driving the likes of an MG Metro 6R4, a Mk2 Escort and a handful of Rally2 cars.

He’s had the likes of Alex Gelsomino and Martin Brady navigate for him, he’s rolled a car 20+ times down the side of a cliff, he’s won in both class and overall at multiple rallies, and he’s gained backing from Ford and M-Sport for his own rally team.

“It escalated pretty quick didn’t it?” Tilley said of the swift rise into rallying.

Let’s back up.

Jumping in with both feet

Tilley is a life-long racer from Bath, England. Starting in karting, he rose through the ranks of circuit racing in various championships like Formula Ford, Historic F1 and most successfully, LMP2 cars.

He’s been living in the US since 2013, and has found great success in the US Le Mans series, forming his own company and team, Era Motorsport, which most notably won its class in the 2021 24 Hours of Daytona.

Despite this success, Tilley decided to finally chase a lifelong dream last year: stage rallying.

“I’ve always been a massive rally fan,” he told DirtFish.


“Rallying was always my first passion, but I ended up having the opportunity to go circuit racing and not rallying because of my family history with road racing.

“It was only last year where I decided, ‘alright, if I want to go do some rallying I need to get on and do it before I’m too old!’”

Planning to race his MG Metro 6R4, Tilley signed up for Ojibwe only to find the Group B monster would not pass tech. After completing the event in an Evo, he planned to use it for the next event when a last minute engine failure turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened.

“The opportunity to jump in the R5 came around because the Evo blew up around the day before LSPR. I drove the R5 for the first time and it kind of ruined me. I was like ‘this thing is awesome!’

It’s been an escalated learning curve shall we say Kyle Tilley

“I wanted to do four, five, six events in the Evo before jumping in the R5 but it didn’t turn out quite like that.

“I’m glad it went how it did because everything I learned in the Evo, none of it applied to driving the R5. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, it was just a steep progression.”

From that moment, Tilley was hooked.

Full commitment

I spent some time with Tilley and his team on Halloween weekend last year. Another competitor I’m close with was sharing a trailer with him to get out to Oregon Trail Rally, and the Era Motorsport shop is based in my hometown of Indianapolis, so I was invited along on a few errands and adventures.

224-DavidC-7919 (1)

Tilley had only done three rallies at this point, but was already discussing plans most US drivers can only dream of.

Multiple sponsorship deals, including Motul, for an American Rally Asssociation season. The purchase of a re-built M-Sport Fiesta R5 to debut at Oregon Trail. The order of the latest evolution of M-Sport’s Rally2 – one of the very first to come off the production line.

Over the next few months he would win the Big White Winter Rally – without using studded tires – with Alex Gelsomino in the passenger seat, and then go on to race the Arctic Lapland Rally in a Hyundai i20.


After competing in the 2022 Daytona 24 Hours, it was back to rallying and another new car – a period correct Ford Escort Mk2 to take on the Riponian Stages Rally in the UK.

“It’s been an escalated learning curve shall we say,” Tilley admitted.

“My schedule is very tight because of everything we do with the LMP2 stuff which has to take priority, but the rallying, especially during the off season, I just tried to fit it in as much as I could because I know I might not be able to later in the year when things get a little more intense with the road racing. So that’s why we did what seemed like back to back to back events.”

The 2022 season

Tilley has plenty of plans for rallying in 2022 to say the least.


The focus will of course be the ARA with Tilley contesting eight of the nine rounds, only missing the 100 Acre Wood Rally due to a conflict with the 24H Sebring.

Beyond this, Tilley’s M-Sport partnership includes three WRC rounds so you’ll be able to see him in Sardinia, Greece and Spain in the Rally2 category. He was supposed to be in Sweden next week but IMSA testing has curtailed that plan.

“I’m mostly looking forward to Spain because it’s Tarmac, and I understand what I’m doing on that surface, more than the others,” he said.

If a full US Le Mans schedule, a full ARA schedule, and four WRC events doesn’t sound like enough, Tilley also plans on competing in the British Historic Rally Championship in his Mk2 Escort and also the Brtish Rally Championship in his Fiesta Rally2.

All this will be done with Brady at his side. Brady, who has navigated over 500 rallies, will be leaving his normal seat beside ARA 2WD National Champion Seamus Burke for this opportunity.

“I was surprised he still wanted to work with me after I threw him off the side of a cliff,” Tilley quipped, referring to the wreck that ended the pair’s first outing at Oregon Trail.

While we know the pair are already promising prospects for the 2022 ARA RC2 Title, what can we expect from them in the future?

“There’s a lot going on. ARA is the priority, but we’ll see,” he said.


“In terms of the British championship I can’t do every round, but I’d like to, it’s just time on different surfaces honestly.

“We’ll pick just one championship probably for next year to focus on. But for now just trying to sample as much difference in terms of car, surface and organizing body that we can just to see really what we want to do and all that fun stuff.”

On top of all this, Era Motorsport has grown its fleet to three cars, four once the new Fiesta Rally2 arrives, with the intention of offering the cars Tilley isn’t using up as rentals. That should be mean two Fiesta Rally2 cars and a Fiesta Rally4 that prospective racers will be able to take to the stages this year.

In the meantime, the previously spotless ERA Motorsport shop will have to get used to more dirt finding its way in.

“The guys in the shop, everybody has been very understanding of rally cars showing up and the workshop getting covered in mud which they’re definitely not used to.

“Most of the stuff we do with the historic and especially the LMP2 stuff, the cars are immaculate and not a spec of dirt in site, then the muddy rally cars show up and they’re like, ‘oh god…’”

Hopefully the Era Motorsport crew can get used to it because Tilley doesn’t seem to have any plans of slowing down any time soon.