Brands Hatch British Rallycross Grand Prix (‘The Golden Era’) 1988-1994

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Will Gollop's MG Metro 6R4How it worked...Rallycross is essentially a timed event and even though the drivers are seen to race against each other in the qualifying heats, they are actually racing against the clock in order to record the best possible time in qualifying to make the all-important finals. In the finals it is every driver for himself and a regular race format, first past the post wins. The races were part-track and part off-road, providing excellent and entertaining close racing. Brands Hatch has a long association with Rallycross and staged the annual 'Grand Prix' (the pinnacle event in the Rallycross calendar) from 1982 to 1994. However, it was at Lydden Hill on 4th February 1967 that the first rallycross event of its type took place, the first time the term 'rallycross' was used when four cars at a time raced over a mixed surface. The RAC rally was cancelled in November, some months after the first Rallycross at Lydden in Feb of the same year. The event at Brands Hatch in 1963 was called 'Mini Monte'. Some will argue that it was 'like' Rallycross, but the term Rallycross was never applied to it until Brands Hatch hosted its first proper Rallycross event in 1976, at which point circuit management tried to associate the circuit with the birth of Rallycross. Following the cancellation of the RAC Rally in 1963 due to the outbreak of the foot and mouth disease and a series of frosts which effectively put a stop to horse racing, the BBC found itself with some embarrasing gaps in its Saturday afternoon sports coverage. Raymond Baxter, very active in the sports department at that time, was given the task of solving the problem and with many of the cars that were due to compete in the RAC Rally already fully-prepared, Baxter devised an event in the Brands Hatch car parks comprising mini rally stages and invited the top rally drivers, including Timo Makinen in the works Austin Healey 3000.
JohnWelch at the 1988 Brands Hatch British Rallycross Grand Prix

Image courtsey of

It was Lydden that Rallycross made its home in the late 1960s and early '70s, the spectacle on the undulating track proving ideal television material. In the 1970s the RACMSA stepped in to control and organise rallycross, reviving what had becoming rather flagging television interest. At the same time, rallycross was gaining momentum in the continent where spectator interest was high. With increasingly high levels of competition and sponsorship, the raised status of rallycross in the early '80s attracted the serious attention of Brands Hatch and the first ever British Rallycross Grand Prix was held in 1982, immediately attracting sponsorship and BBC Grandstand coverage. Rallycross spread its wings into Europe in a few years of inception and the 1973 Embassy European Trophy was won by Scotsman John Taylor, driving an Escort RS1600. Group B rally cars arrived in 1987, following their exile from rallying, much to the delight of Rallycross drivers, although the Rallycross regulations also changed and they only lasted until the end of 1992. However, they are now eligible for the Retro Rallycross series. 1994 was the last year the British Rallycross was held at Brands Hatch (in winter) and co-incidentally the last year coverage was seen on mainstream TV.

British Rallycross Grand Prix Winners

Brands Hatch
  • 12.12.1982, Rolf Nilsson (S) Porsche 911 SC
  • 11.12.1983, Olle Arnesson (S) Audi quattro
  • 09.12.1984 Martin Schanche (N) Ford Escort XR3 T16 4x4
  • 08.12.1985, John Welch (GB) Ford Escort XR3 T16 4x4
  • 07.12.1986, Andy Bentza (A) Audi quattro
  • 06.12.1987, Mikael Nordström (S) Ford RS200 E2
  • 04.12.1988, Will Gollop (GB) ARG MG Metro 6R4
  • 03.12.1989, Will Gollop (GB) ARG MG Metro 6R4 (fog)
  • 02.12.1990, Martin Schanche (N) Ford RS200 E2
  • 01.12.1991, Pat Doran (GB) Ford RS200 E2
  • 06.12.1992, Will Gollop (GB) ARG MG Metro 6R4 BiTurbo
  • 05.12.1993, Martin Schanche (N) Ford Escort RS2000 T16 4x4
  • 04.12.1994, Kenneth Hansen (S) Citroën ZX T16 4x4
  • 18.06.1995, Kenneth Hansen (S) Citroën ZX T16 4x4 (ERC)
  •  30.06.1996, Kenneth Hansen (S) Citroën ZX T16 4x4 (ERC)
  •  27.10.2002, John Haffey (GB) Ford Escort RS2000 T16 4x4
  •  06.11.2004, Pat Doran (GB) Ford Escort WRC
  •  06.11.2011, Liam Doran (GB) Citroën C4 WRC

The Brands Hatch Rallycross Circuit

Brands Hatch Rallycross CircuitThe British Rallycross Circuit at Brands Hatch was designed and constructed by four-times British Rallycross Champion Trevor Hopkins, from nearby Ashford. It is approx. 0.9 miles long and completed around 1981. Unlke earlier rallycross courses at Brands Hatch, cars start on the startline then veer right and downhill on the loose at Paddock Hill Bend. Through the left-right Esses at the bottom, the circuit rejoins the Indy Circuit to travel up and round Druids hairpin, before a 90 degree left through Langley's Gap and accross the knife-edge, rejoining the Indy circuit, but travelling anti-clockwise. From Cooper Straight, the cars swoop up the old link road and back to Paddock.

British Rallycross Grand Prix Gallery

Check out more Classic Rallycross images here and even more Rallycross images here.. So popular was the series, 2012 launched a special Retro Rallycross race series, with eligible historic rallycross cars and Group B rally cars, four decades after it all began...Tags:, ,