MSN Circuit Rally Championship – Round-Up 1

It only seems like yesterday since we were announcing our partnership with Ashleigh Morris and the Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship, but we’re two months on and last weekend saw the second event of the Championship at Cadwell Park. So, here’s a round-up of the Championship so far, Ashleigh’s progress this season, and an overview of what we’ve been doing on and off the track.

Team rally driver Ashleigh Morris often recounts her experiences after each stage of the Championship. Now, I could try to give my account of what happened, but quite frankly, there’s no way I can imagine what it’s like to drive a rally car. So, let’s leave it to Ashleigh herself to explain how the first stage at Oulton Park went, directly from her blog:

Saturday was the Neil Howard Stages at Oulton Park, the first round of the 2019/20 Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship. It was great to finally kick off our new season, with JIG in its new livery courtesy of our main sponsor Cirrus Research.

The Neil Howard is always a tricky event, with a variety of challenges including the slippery rally circuit, the ‘Darcy Dip’ water splash, the gravel section through the trees and stages in the dark.

I found the first few stages challenging and we made an error in tyre choice for stage two – going onto intermediate tyres which we struggled with in the tricky conditions. We lost a bit of time on those first three stages but then found our groove in the afternoon and managed to pick up the pace and start to make up time to the cars in front.

We finished the event fourth in class, just three seconds off third and nine seconds off second in class so we were pleased with the pace we managed in the afternoon. There’s just two weeks to go until the next round at Cadwell Park so we’re hoping we can get on the pace straight away there.

Many thanks to our sponsors Cirrus Research, Morris Lubricants, Real Systems Controls and Demon Tweeks. Also thanks to FJ-RS Engineering who are running JIG for us on the championship this year.

Researching motorsport noise

Oulton Park also gave us the chance to conduct the first part of our research for Motorsport UK, the sport’s governing body in the UK. Our UK Sales Manager, Richard Cutting, attended Oulton Park with one of our Optimus+ Green environmental sound level meters and Professional doseBadge5 noise dosimeters, to paint a picture of the noise experienced by both drivers and technicians within the industry.

Richard used the Optimus+ Green at the start line, where you can imagine it got quite loud. A quick look at the data showed that the levels reached in excess of 100dB(A), although the Peaks (the instantaneous noise level) were nowhere near as high. To put that into a bit of context, that’s slightly louder than a motorbike sat idling.

The noise testing station at Oulton Park.

These measurements were taken at ear level, both one metre and then about five metres away from the start line. These levels were high, even though for the last measurement, Richard was stood behind the crowd that had gathered.

One of the marshals wore a doseBadge5 for around an hour. Within that time, the marshal reached their exposure limit, which Richard found surprising, as he’d been told that where they were standing was one of the quietest parts of the track. This suggests that the noise levels around the circuit can reach potentially dangerous levels and that without the correct hearing protection, technicians, drivers, marshals and perhaps even spectators, may be at risk of irreversible hearing damage.

The second part of the research will take place later in the season and will again focus on the noise levels exposed by marshals. The findings of the data we are collecting for Motorsport UK will help them to better protect their people from the dangers of exposure to excessive noise levels.

Back on track at Cadwell Park

Back on the track at Cadwell Park for the second event of the Championship, and Ashleigh demonstrated why she’s considered one of the drivers to beat this season. Improving on the result at Oulton Park, Ashleigh finished 20th overall and third in class, which puts her on a steady upward trajectory and in a great position moving forward to the next event at Knockhill at the beginning of December.

Although the Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship is only still in its relative infancy, having experienced four successful seasons, the signs are positive for this competition to continue to grow. Darren Spann, MSN Championship Coordinator, had this to say about the 19/20 Championship so far:

The championship has got off to a flying start and is seemingly just as competitive as ever.  I am delighted in how the integration of our new championship partners has dovetailed seamlessly with the existing ones, creating an increased media and physical presence, which is unrivalled in UK rallying. 

The addition of new partnerships with both Cirrus Research and Specsavers has truly provided the Championship with an extra dimension, which can only grow as we work closely together over the coming months.  Coupled with our improved TV show, the whole Championship is working fantastically and giving our partners and competitors the value and opportunity they need to really shine at a national level.  

Next stop Scotland for the Knockhill Stages, I can’t wait!

Sharing the fun and success

As part of our partnership with both Ashleigh Morris and the MSNCRC, we gave all our customers and social media followers the opportunity to come and join us at the first stage at Oulton Park. One of the lucky winners of our ticket giveaway, Graham Watkiss of Diamond Environmental, had this to say about his experience:

Just say a big thank you to you and the team at Cirrus for the tickets to the racing at Oulton Park. It was really good to meet up with you and Martin (thanks for the brews and the bacon butties!).

It was also good to take a look around Ashleigh’s car and talk to her mechanic. Both me and Heather had a great day and stayed until the end of play. The bonfire and the fireworks were a perfect end to a perfect day.

If you fancy coming along to a future event, just stay tuned to our social media channels and your email inbox to find out how you could be in with a chance to get yourself tickets.

Our work with Ashleigh Morris and the MSNCRC, and Motorsport UK forms part of our wider strategy to help the automotive sector as a whole, combat the issues they face with occupational noise and vibration. In January 2020, along with our sister company Eurolec and manufacturing partner Contract Production, we will be attending the AutoSport International exhibition at Birmingham’s NEC. This event is one of the largest of its kind in Europe and attracts roughly 100,000 over the four days it takes place.

Personally speaking as a relative newcomer to the world of motorsport, I absolutely cannot wait for the final event of the year at Knockhill! I’ve already bought my woolly hat and scarf in preparation!

Clarke Roberts

Senior Marketing Executive at Cirrus Research plc

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