M-Sport organizing event to help UK rallying return

Standalone event near WRC squad's Cumbria base will test out future rallying protocols

Esapekka Lappi

M-Sport has organized a one-off rally in the UK called the M-Sport Return to Rally Stages in a bid to set an example for how all future UK events can return under COVID-19 restrictions.

The rally, held in Greystoke forest in Cumbria, has been organized with the help of West Cumbria and Eden Valley Motor Clubs and will run on August 22 with entries capped at 45 cars and exclusively for M-Sport-manufactured cars. There will be six special stages totalling 38 competitive miles with a recce convoy on the Friday (August 21).

M-Sport recently reached out to UK motorsport’s governing body, Motorsport UK, to see how it could help get the industry back up and running. As part of this, a series of short films explaining the necessary safety measures after COVID-19 were filmed last week.

The M-Sport Stages will showcase these new practices in operation, including the electronic management of information and documentation, socially distanced time controls and the safe recovery of vehicles and crews.

Spectators will not be prohibited, but plans are afoot to deliver the best of the action to the public.

M-Sport managing director, Malcolm Wilson, said: “It’s so important for the industry to get back rallying.

“Of course this has to be done in a safe way, and I hope this event reassures organizers and motor clubs that we can go rallying responsibly. Thanks to the West Cumbria and Eden Valley Motor Clubs for the organization.

“I’m also looking forward to seeing so many M-Sport cars together on the same event. It’s something we’ve not done before, and it will be a fantastic opportunity to celebrate our success whilst catching up with all of the crews and teams.”

“It’s been good to work with Motorsport UK over the past few weeks,” added M-Sport Ford team principal, Richard Millener. “We all want to see rallying get going again, and this event aims to show how that can be done safely and responsibly. It will be great to see some competition, but also to see our community of customers together at one event.

“When you think back to the cars we’ve produced over the past 20 years there are some fairly impressive machines on the list, and I’m looking forward to seeing as many of them as possible next month. The more I think about what this event could showcase, the more exciting it becomes.”

Words:Luke Barry

Image:Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool