The submission date:Sep 6, 2011
ANDREW Burton’s Peugeot-Cosworth is nearing its final corner – but he hopes there’s one last hurrah from his legendary rally car.
Burton, from Lyonshall, has become the first person to win four titles in the 58- year history of the BTRDA Rally Championship.
Now the Herefordshire farmer has set his sights on ploughing to victory in this weekend’s Woodpecker Stages Rally, near Ludlow.
“We have won the Woodpecker Rally nine times and I would just like to win it 10 times because this will be the last time that the car will do that rally,” said Burton, who last won the event in 2007.
“It’s all gone like a dream this year. I don’t think we’ll do it on the Woodpecker but we will try our best. And, if we can do it, then it would be simply too good to be true.”
Burton has won the Woodpecker Rally in 1989, 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2007.
The Herefordshire Motor Club member has had a memorable year, roaring to the BTRDA Rally Gold Star Championship title with two events remaining.
He has moved ahead of Jon Ballinger, Graham Middleton, Ron Beecroft and Will Sparrow, who each secured three championship title triumphs.
But it has been a poignant success for Burton and codriver Robin Kellard, from Presteigne, because the legendary self-built Peugeot- Cosworth is being outlawed.
“I can’t use the car next y e a r because the MSA are banning the car,” said Burton.
“The rules are changing and you can’t do any home-build specials. I t h i n k t h e y ’ r e frightened that people are making cars which aren’t safe.
“It’s like the end of an era for this car and other cars like it. To win the championship on the last year is such a good send-off for it.
“Someone has been trying to find out how many rallies this car has won. I think it has won the most rallies ever in this country, but I can’t find it out.”
Burton started rallying at the age of 17 and he was inspired to build his own car after attending an RAC rally.
“They were just finishing off Group-B cars and it was such a wow factor that I thought I had to do something like it,” he recalled.
“I bought a written off Ferrari and a written off Alfa from a friend in the village and I built a F e r r a r i engine in an Alfa body rally car.
That was in 1986 and we went to Group N but we didn’t have the freedom for engineering and that’s why we decided to build the P e u g e o t - Cosworth.”
The car was built in 1996 and, on Motors TV, it has been rated as the sixth best rally car in history.
“Mark Blakeway and Rob Morgan, who I have known for 20 years, helped me build it and Craig Golder has been helping us for the last five years,” said Burton.
“I wouldn’t be able to do it without those people helping.
It’s all voluntary and there’s no money involved.
“A lot of years we don’t have many finishes at all.
But looking back, we’ve had such a good time rallying.
Finishing a rally is not everything - it’s being with a load of people all pushing for the same goal. The older you get, the more you realise that.”
Burton has also been helped by his son, Josh, who is studying engineering at Oxford University.
Darren Underwood built the engine.
His younger son, Will, plays cricket for Kington and rugby for Luctonians.
“I have always enjoyed engineering but I’ve never been to an engineering college and that’s why Josh is so lucky,” said Burton.
“The engine is more reliable this year because we put it on a machine and Josh machined the whole block at home and it’s gone very well. It’s nice when it comes off.
“We’ve won the BTRDA four times but we’re not really championship people.
We’ve made a concerted effort to try to win the championship because it’s the car’s last year.
“This year has probably been our best yet because everything happened just how we had planned it.”
Burton said the car was the seventh quickest on the first stage of last year’s GB Rally. It has been nicknamed ‘The Tractor’ by some Scottish enthusiasts.
“The car was coming to the end of its life and it’s only had about three or four bad crashes,” said Burton. “Josh has been navigating a few times. I once took Josh on the Wyedean but I slid into a tree and it knocked him out.
“The car gets a lot of attention because of the noise – the engine sounds like a bee. My wife, Jo, watches nearly every rally and she goes to a corner on every stage. She loves rallying.”
He continued: “After the GB Rally in November, that’s the end for this car. It has a good history and we understand that it’s been the most featured car in Motoring News.
“It will be the end of something that everybody expects to hear coming through the forest. We haven’t got a car to race for next year so we will see.”