John Easson Award – Champion

The Club Champion

It was late November 2018 when it was announced that Lincolnshire’s junior rally ace George Lepley had won the 2300 Club’s 2018 John Easson Award. After entering the competition for 4 years, his persistence had finally paid off. George had shown some serious promise, having won the BTRDA 2wd Championship for the 2018 season. 2300 Club members, not to mention Award scheme manager Allan Durham, were all excited to see what George could bring to the 2019 season.

The new Award winner had planned to take part in the British Rally Championship 2wd with all things in place. Exciting times ahead for 2019 with the John Easson Award covering George’s entry fees up-to a maximum of £5,000, with a bonus of £1,000 if he won the Championship. This would be a big help to George’s finances.

Unfortunately by mid January his plans had fallen through with his main sponsor pulling out. All rally plans were shelved. It was also George’s final year at university so he announced with great sadness that he would not be rallying for the first half of the year and would be concentrating on his degree. Although 2300 Club were disappointed they understood his predicament, but knowing what he was capable of would support him later in the year.

However just two weeks later, at the beginning of February, another door opened. A very different opportunity came from the BTRDA Championship headline sponsor Baz Jordan. He offered a historic spec, 8 valve Hillman Avenger to George for the Cambrian Rally. George grabbed this opportunity with both hands.

As it happened 2300 Club were marshalling on the Cambrian Rally with a strong turn out of 13 Marshalls, all dying to see this historic Avenger in action in George’s capable hands. Positioned with the club’s historic 40 year old banner, proudly sited on a decent bend on the stage, George’s pace was truly outstanding. He looked very fast and was on a par with the modern cars. The results that day tell the story!

  • 1st overall 2wd BTRDA silver star (includes modern 2wd)
  • 1st overall Historic cup
  • 1st overall Junior driver

Beating modern machinery with the historic car, was it a fluke or a sign of things to come?

Mr Jordan was more than happy with the results on the Cambrian, leaving the Avenger with George for the next event. 2 weeks later it was the Malcolm Wilson Rally based in Cumbria. The 2nd round of the BTRDA rally would have the usual early March treacherous conditions, proving a difficult rally for the Avenger. George had a few issues in stages 7 & 8 which put him just outside the top 10. Still an incredible result in such bad conditions, beating many modern 4wd cars.

  • 11th overall (in the thick of the modern 4wd machinery)
  • 1st 2wd Silver Star
  • 1st overall Historic cup
  • Best presented car at scrutineering.

So another fantastic result. A theme is emerging with George and the Avenger getting along well!

April brought the Rallynuts Stages Rally in mid Wales, where things did not quite go to plan. Time was lost due to a differential problem, so George had to work hard to stay in the mix. But looking at the results you would never know:

  • 1st 2wd Silver Star
  • 1st overall Historic cup
  • 1st overall Junior driver

The Plains Rally was next in May. Still in the Avenger, there was a chance of a Championship win, If the results kept coming. George lost time in stage 2 with a puncture but still managed 10th overall again against modern 4wd machinery. Brilliant result going into the mid season break. He found himself on the front cover of UK Rally Scene magazine, a mid season highlight.

It was also time to finish the Chemical Engineering Degree at the University of Nottingham with, you guessed it, another first.

Leading the Championship standings for most classes, it was back to business in the Nicky Grist Stages Rally, again in Wales. This was where the BTRDA Silver Star(2wd) and the Historic cup Championships were won, after just five of the seven rounds.

An incredible season, after the disappointment in January, to elation in July. Not only was George Lepley the star driver, he also made the little Avenger an unlikely star with fans of its own. George and the Avenger beat all the modern R2 cars, modern high power RWD cars and the best of the historic Escorts and drivers in the country. George commented “this car flies like a bird & entertains like a comedian” and I only originally borrowed it for one event! Time to hand it back to a very pleased Baz Jordan. With the Championship won, time to do the last two rounds in 4wd.

In August’s Woodpecker Stages Rally George would compete in a Mitsubishi Evo 10 Clubman B13 spec car. Not quite the power of the WRC or R5 cars, but very capable, with the following results:

  • 1st Gold star
  • 2nd Overall

Proving he could not only challenge but beat WRC and R5 cars, he set 3 fastest times on 5 stages with pace, control and smoothness to beat the best drivers in BTRDA.

The final round was at Septembers Trackrod Rally Yorkshire. Seeded 3rd did prove that George was there to take on the big boys. Finishing the last stage with the fastest overall time. Results may have been better with a different tyre choice.

  • 3rd overall
  • 1st B13 (non R5/WRC)

I don’t think we will see a season as good as this for a long time. 2300 Club does not have a club champion, as it is a club of organisers, but George Lepley, wearing the 2300 Club John Easson Award Decals on his cars, certainly championed our Club.

2019 Andy Mort Tour Report

As the dust settles on the fourth Andy Mort Tour, the 2300 Club can reflect on an event that proved an overwhelming success. All the ingredients were there: one of the best known names in rallying in attendance, two of the most famous Minis in the world, a record-breaking entry of 55 cars, and a fabulous route through Lancashire and Yorkshire – even the weather played its part.

Thanks to support from Mini Sport and managing director Chris Harper, the club were lucky enough to have Paddy Hopkirk in attendance, flagging off the cars and greeting the finishers back at West Bradford Village Hall before entertaining a 150-strong audience with a talk on his life and career. First cars away were Paddy’s two Mini Cooper S’s, 6 EMO, in which he won the 1990 Pirelli Classic Marathon and 33 EJB, the replica of his 1964 Monte Carlo Rally winning car.

From Austin to Abarth and Stratos to Skoda, there was an amazing array of classic and modern machinery. The hubbub of interest and expectation began to mount as the crews arrived, all with back stories about their car – and themselves – to tell. For some, the drama started before the chequered flag had even dropped.

Fellsman Tour organiser and LAC member John Hartley nearly didn’t make it in his Porsche, after being collected by a speedy cyclist whilst stationary in Waddington. Hartley and navigator Nigel Bentley had to call an ambulance for the injured rider, only continuing to the start once he had been treated.

Ahead of all the crews lay a 120-mile route through Lancashire and Yorkshire, meticulously planned by 2300 Club members Walter Bateson and Dave Barritt and their team, using a choice of tulip road book or maps. The tulip road book proved to be a brainteaser from the start, with several crews not realising that the first page was a sample route from last year and turned left at the first junction instead of right….

The opening section took in familiar territory of Sawley, the Nick O’ Pendle, Sabden, Brierfield before heading across the top of Burnley down to Haggate crossroads and turning left towards Wycoller. There was a famous motorsport face at the second checkpoint near Wycoller Country Park, with leading WRC co-driver Daniel Barritt – and his mum Janet – signing the route cards.

Oakworth, Crosshills and Steeton and Addingham were next up on the signposts, but then a dreaded ‘Road Closed – Diversion’ sign created problems for crews – particularly those ones relying on the tulip road book alone. A detour through the centre of Otley saw the field pick up the original route to the lunch halt at Blubberhouses.

At least one crew ignored the diversion sign and carried on regardless. In a scene allegedly reminiscent of ‘The Italian Job’, Mini Sport’s Michael Anderson and his son Ben took to the pavement in 33 EJB in their determination to stay on course – and on time. The post-lunch run took in some picturesque roads near Pateley Bridge and Greenhow before heading through Embsay and skirting around Skipton, rounding off with some of the superb road rally lanes around Lothersdale.

The route finished with an optional ‘fun test’ in the car park at Hanson Cement. Two abreast, cars were timed around a simple left or right dog-leg lined with cones and tape. Simple – except that the driver was blindfolded and had to rely on their navigator for precise instructions.

Several squashed cones and chewed up tape later, everyone was through and heading for the finish for a well-earned supper and Paddy’s much-awaited talk. He might be 86 years old, and many of the stories and events we already know, but Paddy really can tell a tale or two.

Amidst gales of laughter from the enraptured audience, Paddy recounted his career in motorsport, starting out with autotesting in Northern Ireland, graduating to rallying with the Mini, the Monte, circuit racing and then later life with the family.
And he even took time out to wish Steve Entwistle and Mark Appleton all the best on next month’s RAC Rally of the Tests, driving Paddy’s own Cooper S, 6 EMO.
“Good luck to Steve and Mark on the rally next month, but we’re not bothered about third or second, only number one”, he said. So, no pressure there then….

As the evening wound up and everyone departed after a brilliant day of driving and socialising, the same four words could be heard everywhere.

“See you next year!”

Andy Mort – A Tribute

A much-loved member of the 2300 Club, Andy Mort lost his life in an accident on the 2015 Tour of Mull. Twelve months later, the club decided to honour his memory with an annual event, and four years on, the Andy Mort Tour goes from strength to strength. Roger & Pamela Broom are just one of many of the crews taking part on Saturday, they were personal friends of Andy, and this is their story:

“My husband Roger and I marshalled main time controls MT2 and MT8 on the Tour of Mull for over 25 years. Over that time we got to know a good few of the 2300 Club members, including Andy Mort. On some occasions, particularly when there was a serious incident or hold-up, or even a cancellation, Andy was often the person who would jump in and be our ‘extra hands’ and liaison with rally control. He was a great guy, and when the 2300 Club organised the first Andy Mort Tour, we knew we just had to be part of it. Initially, it was to show support to Andy’s family, friends and the 2300 Club. Now we take part to celebrate and remember Andy and also because it’s a great event to do. Thank you the 2300 Club!”

Andy Mort Tour – Peter Croft

Peter Croft is typical of many competitors who have achieved high-speed success in motorsport before moving to a slightly more sedate, but equally enjoyable, events like the Andy Mort Tour.

“My introduction to motorsport began with hot rod racing on the Oval tracks in the late 1960s and early 1970s, finishing fifth in the British championship race at New Brighton driving at 1600cc Ford Anglia.”

“Lack of funds and a young family insured and in forced lay-off, but after that I took up road rallying in the late 1970s, first with a self-built mini and then a Mark one Ford Escort, culminating in winning the Clitheroe DMC championship.”

“After another absence, I started racing a Westfield in the Kit Car Championship, before switching to a Sylva Phoenix kit car with reasonable success. After that, I contested the MG Car Club Championships in an MG Midget until 2011.”

“In recent years, I have taken part in the Fellsman and last years Andy Mort Tour in an MGB GT with my partner Amanda Bradley, and we are looking forward to Saturday very much.”

Andy Mort Tour – 1 week to go …

The countdown to the Andy Mort Tour has started. With just four days to go, excitement is building – thanks to a record entry of 55 cars and crews all eager for a great driving day and the chance to meet Paddy Hopkirk. And it’s the ‘Paddy Factor’ that is expected to make this year’s Andy Mort Tour the best yet. “We’ve had a fantastic response, and it was very soon apparent that we would have to extend our limit of 50 cars to accommodate everyone who wanted to attend,” explained Neil Molyneux, chairman of the 2300 Club of Blackburn. “Having Paddy here to meet and greet everyone, and then give a talk at the finish, is going to make the day very special. The icing on the cake is having Paddy’s two cars, 6 EMO and 33 EJB taking part. The organising team have worked very hard to put on an entertaining route that everyone will enjoy, and we hope all the crews will finish the tour wanting to come back again next year.” And it’s not just the crews who will be busy preparing for Saturday. Course car driver Neil Johnson faces a race against time getting his ex-Thierry Neuville Fiesta ST ready after damaging the steering last time out on the Little Devils Tour. The car was used by the current WRC front-runner in the Belgian Rally Championship in 2008.

Fortunately, Neil works for a BMW dealership, so should be able to get a last-minute replacement if it all goes wrong. Whatever he turns up in, he’ll have long- standing 2300 Club member Pete Kenyon on the maps. ‘PK’ was entries secretary when the club ran the Tour of Mull closed road rally, and is a familiar figure in the trials bike world, officiating at many national and international events, along with his brother Roger. Keeping up the family links, Roger will be at the other end of the field as the last car on the Tour. The start venue at West Bradford Village Hall will be open from 8am on Saturday morning, and the organisers ask all crews to arrive at least an hour before their scheduled start time. Each car has an allocated car park space, please do not park on the grass verges on the main road. Cars will leave at one minute intervals, with the first ten cars flagged away by Paddy, who will have the pleasure of seeing 6 EMO, his Pirelli Marathon – winning Cooper S, at car one, followed by 33 EJB, the replica of his 1964 Monte Carlo Rally-winning Mini. Both cars are expected to attract a huge amount of attention throughout the day, and will be taking part in the optional Super Special Test, which takes place after the finish control in West Bradford. “Andy Mort was a fun-loving character and would have appreciated everyone taking part in this element of the day,” explained Neil Molyneux. “We are looking forward to seeing friends old and new on Saturday, even the weather is looking promising!

The 2300 Club of Blackburn would like to thank our event starter Paddy Hopkirk MBE, Chris Harper and Mini Sport of Padiham, Gary Young and Hanson Heidelberg Cement Group, Educational Printing Services Ltd, West Bradford Village Hall, the Millstones, and all the marshals.

Andy Mort Tour – Latest News

There will now be two famous rally Minis leading away the field on next week’s Andy Mort Tour. Paddy Hopkirk’s amazing replica of the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally winning Mini, 33 EJB will now be appearing, joining 6 EMO, the car he drove to victory on the 1990 Pirelli Marathon. The original 33 EJB is now housed at Gaydon, and has become an illustrious icon, defining the success of both Hopkirk and the Mini in what is acknowledged as a golden era of the sport.
33 EJB


The replica was built by the late Graham McConnell to the specification of the 1964 car, and is looked after by Mini Sport of Padiham, who enjoy close personal and business links with the legendary Northern Irishman. 33 EJB will be driven by Mini Sport’s Michael Anderson, with his son Ben, an accomplished stage navigator in his own right, reading the maps. They will start at car two, behind 6 EMO which will be driven by Steve Entwistle and Mark Appleton. Paddy has generously allowed Mini Sport and Entwistle to use the car on the RAC Rally of the Tests, and with the event just four weeks away, the pair will be using the Andy Mort Tour to get re-acquainted with one another – their last event together was back in 2015.

“To see 33 EJB and 6 EMO on the Tour will be amazing, and for any Mini or historic rally enthusiast, they represent a famous era in the sport,” said 2300 Club chairman Neil Molyneux. “The Tour is getting very close now, and we are very happy with the quality and the quantity of the entries received, and we expect to be issuing the final instructions to everyone this weekend.”

And there’s another works replica car among the entries, with Ilkley Motor Club member Les McGuffog bringing along his newly-acquired Austin Healey 3000 Mk2 for a run-out with well-known rally organiser Kev Haworth in the co-driver’s seat. The club were also delighted to see two former John Easson Scholarship winners on the entry list for this year’s Tour. Tommi Meadows, winner in 2017, has been a frontrunner in this year’s BTRDA R2 Rallye Cup, and fresh from his outing on last weekend’s Wales Rally GB, he’ll be on the startline at West Bradford Village Hall. But it will be in something more sedate than his Fiesta R2 rally car – a Morris Minor 1000!

And a late entry sees 2008 Scholarship winner Phil Scholes also out enjoying the lanes of Lancashire and Yorkshire. Sadly, there have been a couple of withdrawals, with Geoff Awde forced to give the Tour a miss following problems with the diff on his MGB, and Mark Smith, who has taken part in all the previous Andy Mort Tours, will also not be appearing. So with less than two weeks to go, there are still a few places left, anyone interested can visit www.2300club.org for the entry form and details – but be quick!

AMT 2019 – Lunch Stop Menu

The Following options will be available at the Lunch Stop on the 2019 Andy Mort Tour:

  • Homemade Soup of the Day – £4.50
  • Hot roast Sandwiches – £5.50
  • Egg mayonnaise / Cheese & Pickles Sandwiches – £4.95
  • Chips – £2.50
  • Coffee Station – £1.50
  • A selection tray-bakes, Muffins & Confectionary are also available to buy

Appeal for Marshals for October 19

The 2300 Club have issued an appeal for marshals for this month’s Andy Mort Tour, which takes place on Saturday, October 19. Starting and finishing at West Bradford Village Hall in the Ribble Valley, this year’s event has Paddy Hopkirk as guest of honour, flagging away the cars at one minute intervals, and waving the chequered flag at the finish.

“It’s going to be a very special day for everyone, drivers, navigators , officials – and marshals,” said club chairman Neil Molyneux. “We are looking for anyone who could help with marshalling duties on the day, no previous experience is necessary, and in return we offer volunteers a free bacon roll breakfast, supper and entry to the talk by Paddy”

“We have an amazing array of cars – and drivers – entered, so the opportunity to see some iconic
machinery, such as 6 EMO, Paddy’s Pirelli Marthon-winning Mini Cooper S, a works replica Austin Healey 3000, and a Lancia Stratos is not to be missed.”

Anyone wishing to volunteer can contact Chief Marshal at simonbibby@btinternet.com.