The History

Car Trials have been around for many years and have been previously known as Field Trials and Production Car Trials, these events were mainly run as closed to club events.

In 1970 the RACMSA started the British Championship and the series has run continuously eversince, apart from 2001 when the Foot & Mouth Disease put a halt to the proceedings.

Over the last 40 years only 16 drivers have won the British Title. The most successful of these drivers is Barrie Parker, who has won the title on six occasions, his first being in 1987 and then he was unbeaten from 1999 to 2004 inclusive, when he won five on the trot. Bill Moffatt and Mike Stephens have both won five British Titles each and Steve Courts with four.

The Sections

Drivers compete over a number of hills, known as Sections, aiming to climb all the courses without stopping or hitting penalty markers. The markers start with a 12 and go down to zero at the top of the course. Organisers will put various turns into the Section to use the best of the natural terrain to make it a challenging drive for all the competitors.

There are normally about 10 Sections laid out and each driver will have an attempt at each one, the courses may then be altered slightly and the drivers will have another round. Most events three or four rounds making 30 to 40 Sections in total.

The overall winner is the driver with the least amount of penalties based on an Index of Performance.

Image courtesy of Duncan Stephens

Car Preparation

Regulations stipulating what can and cannot be done to your car, can be found in the MSA Competitors Year Book, you will receive one of these books with your Competition Licence, or if you don't yet have a licence, the appropraite section can be downloaded from the MSA Website.

As with any motorsport you can throw as much money as you can afford at it, or you can do the basic minimum of turn up in your road car and have a go. Car Trials are very much down to driver experience and tyres, getting the best out of what is available to you.

Tyres are restricted to normal road patterns only and winter/off road/mud & snow tyres are not permitted.

A sump guard is also recommended as the terrain can be occasionally a little rough and if you are driving your car to and from the event, it's good to get it home under its own power.

Image courtesy of Simon Harris

Class 1. 2WD PRODUCTION CARS - CARRYING NO BALLAST

2 wheel drive production cars, registered after the 1st January 1998, taxed for road use, carrying no ballast, no modifications and driven to the venue. It is permitted to fit a sump guard which complete with fittings, must not weigh more than 10kg.
Minimum tyre pressures on driven wheels:
FWD : 18 psi
FE RWD : 14 psi
RE RWD : 22 psi

Image courtesy of Duncan Stephens

Class 2. FWD PRODUCTION CARS

Front wheel drive production cars not eligible for Class 1.
Minimum tyre pressures on driven wheels:
up to 1200cc : 12 psi
up to 1400cc : 14 psi
over 1400cc : 16 psi

Image courtesy of Dafydd Bastable www.angelseymotorsports.co.uk

Class 3. RWD PRODUCTION CARS

Rear wheel drive production cars not eligible for Class 1.
Minimum tyre pressures on driven wheels:
FE Sports cars up to 1800cc : 16 psi
FE Sports cars over 1800cc : 22 psi
RE cars up to 1300cc : 20 psi
RE cars over 1300cc : 24 psi
*FE Saloon Cars up to 1800cc : 14 psi
*FE Saloon Cars over 1800cc : 20 psi
*These cars must have an overall first gear ratio which is numerically less than 17:1.

Image courtesy of Duncan Stephens

Class 4. MODIFIED PRODUCTION CARS AND KIT CARS

Production cars modified beyond Regulations T11 to T11.14.4 and modified up to the limits specified in T10 (Classes 1-6).
Front engined Kit Cars to approved MSA specification.
Front engined Kit Cars modified beyond Regulations T11 to T11.14.4 and modified up to the limits specified in T10 Class 7(c) (ACTC approved specification).
Minimum tyre pressures on driven wheels:
FE RWD cars : 22 psi
RE RWD cars : 26 psi
FE Kit cars : 24 psi
FWD cars : 16 psi

Notes:
1. Any car fitted with a torque biasing differential or any other form of traction control as catalogued for that car will have tyre pressures set at 4 psi above the relevant class pressure.
2. Cars with an overall length of 166 inches and over in Classes 1 and 2 may reduce tyre pressures by not more than 4 psi subject to an absolute minimum pressure of 12 psi.
3. The organisers of some events may include sections which are timed, have split routes, have different starts, have restart sections or other tests of a similar nature.
4. Should the organisers of an event include Class 5 (4WD Production Cars) these cars will not be eligible for Index of Performance or Championship Points.
5. For Championship scoring purposes, Classes cannot be amalgamated.

Image courtesy of Duncan Stephens

Driver Preparation

One of the easiest ways to learn about Car Trials is to have a go, either as a driver or a passenger (bouncer) or alternatively spectating or marshalling can give you a valuable insight into the sport.

Walking the Sections is essential to pick out where the best lines are for your car. Watch other experienced drivers to see how they tackle the hills and Triallers are a friendly bunch, so don't be afraid to ask them questions.

 

What will it cost me?

Car Trials is one of, if not the cheapest forms of motorsport as competitors can use everyday cars. Entry fees are around the £25 mark, the remaining costs are mainly travelling too and from the event. The occasional tyres may come into the budget as will registration fees for championships and club memberships.

The sport also allows for double drives, so share your car with someone and halve your travelling costs.

The sport also caters for the younger driver and those of 14 years old and above or drivers who do not have a full RTA Driving Licence can participate in Car Trials as long as they have someone sat in the passenger seat who has a full RTA licence. Passengers can be as young as 12, so it is a great sport to involve your children and give them valuable driving experience, before they take to the road as well as making it a family day out.