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.

Chris Ingrams Masterplan & The JEA

A young Chris Ingram applied for the 2013 John Easson Award

“Rally is in my blood. I am driven by my ambition of becoming World Rally Champion and dedicate every day working towards achieving my goals so that not only myself, but my team and my partners will benefit.”

MASTERPLAN “World Rally Champion 2023”

Chris Ingrams

Just turned 20 years old from Manchester, it was quite clear to the judging panel early on in the process that Chris was going somewhere with his confidence and ability to sell himself with pure ambition. He even had a masterplan, just like a business plan, detailing every step and goal along the way in order to achieve his dream of becoming WRC Champion. This set him apart from an already top class entry list. He was even learning French to attract the co-driver he wanted to work with. Late in 2013 it was announced that Chris Ingram had received the award.

With a prize fund of £4,000 contributing to Chris’s entry fees, his chosen rallies for the 2014 season were in the ERC Junior series. Teaming up with French co-driver Gabin Moreau, using a Renault Twingo, the pair showed a very good pace early in the season. Unfortunately they crashed out of the Circuit of Ireland rally, with a very badly damaged car. It looked like their season was over, however, this is where Chris’s ability to sell himself came in. He persuaded Renault to give him a new body shell, bearing in mind Chris’s car was privately funded with no ties to Renault. They too must have seen his potential. With the car ready for the Rally of the Azores in August they finished a credible 2nd in the junior category. The pace was there, the win had to come. Later that month the pair were signed by Peugeot UK to run in a 208 r2. Their financial worries over, they could get down to the business of driving. Rewarding Peugeot UK with their first class win at WRC Wales Rally GB . A fabulous result to the end a great season. 2300club were very proud to support.

The following three seasons would produce great results, ticking off their goals on the way to becoming WRC champion. Teaming up with Peugeot UK then Opel Motorsport, Chris secured one of his main goals to become 2017 under 27 ERC 2wd Champion. Another great result was a class win of over 9 minutes, at Wales Rally GB. Some fabulous results for the team.

Chris Ingram partnered with co-driver Ross Whittock in the Fabia r5 for the 2018 season in 4wd. They were with the privately funded Toksport WRT Skoda Team. They competed against factory and big budget teams with brilliant results. However at the start of the 2019 season the pair found themselves with serious financial worries as their main sponsor had pulled out, putting this years step in the masterplan of becoming the ERC 4wd Champion at risk. Due to Chris’s sheer determination to succeed and to sell himself, he has managed to fund his way through 6 of 8 rounds of the ERC. With the pair leading the Championship by 1 point the funding ran dry, they have had an incredible journey to get this far. Their last event was Barum Czech Rally which had a winning prize fund of €100,000, this could have made all the difference, but sadly was not to be. The pair were leading this rally going into the last stage, when on the last corner of the last stage, the car slid slightly wide losing first position and the prize money by 0.3 of a second. Chris now needs as much support as he can get to finish the season and to stand a chance of being the first British winner of the ERC in 52 years.

There is a GOFUNDME.COM set up by his mum Jo Ingram on his facebook page @chrisingramrally.
Please get behind him & help make this masterplan happen.

More Good News from George Lepley

The 2300 Club’s 2018 John Easson Award winner, George Lepley, kicked off his season with a class win on the Cambrian earlier in the year. He’s since been carrying on the good form by winning the championship! Very well done to a very worthy winner.

If you are a young rally driver or co driver, entry for the 2019 John Easson Award opens again on 1st of September. Check out this website for details nearer the time. Get your 2020 season of to a flying start.

Amazing News from George Lepley the John Easson Award Winner

“We have won the BTRDA Silver Star in the mighty Avenger, beating all the Escort BDA’s, Millington’s, modern R2’s etc! It was great to win 4 from 4 events. Needing to finish 6th or higher on the Nicky Grist event, we finished 3rd.”

“Tyre choice and being held up by catching a car in stage 1 was challenging, but our result was all the more sweet by beating the best of the British Historics! A great result for the team. The amount of PR that the car has created has been phenomenal, it’s everywhere and everyone has talked about it.”

“I would like to thank everyone at 2300 club for putting your faith in me and I’m proud to be the ambassador for the Award.As for future plans, the Avenger is on its way back to Baz Jordan. We are currently 2nd O/A in the Gold Star too and we are hoping do at least the Woodpecker, if possible the Trackrod, in order to gain some more points for the championship. I have put an entry in for the Woodpecker.  For now, I’ll try to enjoy the summer break but get plans in place for the last 2 BTRDA rounds followed by 2020.”

George Lepley – BTRDA Rallynuts Stages

The 2300 Club’s 2018 John Easson Scholarship Winner reports on his progress

George had another mega weekend. The Rallynuts stages, starting in Builth Wells for round 3 of the BTRDA Rally Championship. A new engine in for this event, a 2 litre 16 valve BRM. 

“The first loop of stages were much drier than expected and we set out on tyres that were too soft, causing some time loss. Furthermore, a differential issue meant the car was effectively 1 wheel drive with little/no pre-load when checked in service. The car wasn’t driving quite as George had hoped and felt as if they were struggling for traction, so this explained a lot! George found himself not leading for the first time this year, in fact 8 seconds down. But with 2 stages left, it was a case of giving it their all to ensure they got the win that they were after, especially after the first 2 wins this season. 21 miles through Hafren and Sweet Lamb awaited them. Although the car was wounded, George and co-driver Tom Woodburn, had a big push to come out with a 12 second win! Despite their issues, it was great to be first 2 wheel drive, first historic and first Junior! It puts them in a very good position in the championship with 3 wins from 3. 

Most importantly, it was the first win for the new BRM engine and so I would like to say a big thank you to the whole team and to all the supporters and 2300 Club John Easson Award for their continued support and belief in me. I’m proud to have re-paid everyone with this win with the new engine. 

The next event is on 11th May in Oswestry, the Plains Rally.

George Lepley 11th Overall on Malcolm Wilson

The 2300 Club’s 2018 John Easson Scholarship Winner reports on his progress

Round 2 of the BTRDA was the Malcolm Wilson Rally, based at M-Sport, with Stages in and around the Lake District. They included a long 12.5 mile stage through the notoriously challenging Grizedale stage of which I was certainly looking forwards to!

After a large amount of rain fell on the Friday night, the stages were certainly going to be wet and slippy. But to see the snow arrive and then settle how it did was a surprise to say the least! 3 very slippy stages before the first service awaited us, causing a lot of drama amongst other crews! Then a long trip out to the Grizedale area for some excellent stages. There was no snow here, just wet ground so plenty more grip than the morning Stages! A big push through the 4 stages that we’re awaiting us saw us extend our lead in the 2 wheel drive and historic categories. Unfortunately, a rear axle arm bent in the penultimate short stage causing the car to behave strangely. A short final service where the service crew managed to replace one of the broken parts before a final stage in Greystoke where we just nursed the car back to get to the finish after a very dramatic and difficult days rallying! An extremely rewarding champagne spray at the finish!

An incredible 11th O/A, 1st 2 wheel drive, 1st Historic, 1st Junior award (Tynemouth Computer Services), Best presented car at Scrutineering award, Special award for fastest 2WD through first 2 stages Hobcarton & Comb.
The next event is the Rallynuts Stages in April. A big thank you to Baz Jordan of Jordan Road Surfacing for loaning me the lovely avenger, the 2300 Club John Easson Award, Jondel Race Engines, Ex-Pressed steel panels, Kielder WT, Pirelli Tyres, revolution wheels and all the team for their continued support.”

John Easson Award Winner George Lepley on the Cambrian Rally

“After my 2019 British Rally Championship plans fell through a month before the opening round, I was left without a seat. The opening round was the Cambrian Rally in Llandudno, North Wales, which was also the opening round of the BTRDA (British National Championship of which I competed in last season). 10 days before the event, local businessman and BTRDA Championship headline sponsor, Baz Jordan of Jordan Road Surfacing, stepped in and said I could use one of his beautifully prepared historic Hillman Avenger rally cars, it’s not what I had planned but thought…hell why not, I saw it as a challenge, being a right-hand drive car and a rear wheel drive car after the left hand drive Fiesta R2 I drove last year.

With the opening round being part of the 2 biggest rally championships in the country, the British Rally Championship (BRC) and British National Rally Championship (BTRDA), Llandudno town centre atmosphere was electric with over 130 rally cars. Stages included some of those used on the Great British round of the world rally championship, Wales rally GB, so some challenging stages were ahead of us in the new car.

Despite some very slippy conditions in the morning, followed by a rutted road in the afternoon, the car ran faultlessly and me and co-driver Arwel Jenkins came away with first 2 wheel drive car, beating much more powerful millington & XE powered cars and modern R2 fwd cars, being presented with a special award for the rally for our hard charging effort! Also, finishing first historic rally car in the Historic Cup and first BTRDA Junior Driver, I was delighted with our achievement, it couldn’t have gone any better for our first event in the car! It is now part of our 2019 BTRDA campaign to aim to be the first historic car to win the overall 2 wheel drive/Silver Star championship. We finished a very credible 13th overall, against many 4 wheel drive World Rally cars, R5 cars, Evos, Subaru’s etc!

I would like to say a huge thank you to the 2300 Club John Easson Award, a prize that literally has kept me rallying this season (last year at Uni!) Also, I would like to say thanks to Baz Jordan, Jondel Race Engines, Beatson’s Building Supplies, Ex-Pressed Steel Panels, Kielder WT, Pirelli tyres and Jason Lepley Motorsport, all for making this possible. It is not the end of my modern rally career, just a blip in my circumstances which I hope to turn into a positive showing my pace in a variety of cars, LHD or RHD, FWD or RWD !

The next event is in 3 weeks at the Malcolm Wilson Rally in Carlisle.”

Winner of the 2018 John Easson Award

2300 Club are pleased to announce the winner of the 2018 John Easson Award. Lincolnshire driver George Lepley was chosen as the winner of this year’s prestigious award which is worth a total prize fund of £6,000.

This year we had a total of 17 Candidates for the award consisting of 15 Drivers and 2 Co-Drivers. The JEA subcommittee met on the 14th November to review the applications and pick our 3 finalists.

George Lepley (Lincolnshire)
Ewan Tindall (Newcastle upon Tyne)
Finley Reton (Blairgowry Scotland)

The final was held Friday 23 November at the Tickled Trout Hotel. The selection panel this year was 2300 Club members Clive Molyneux, Ian Grindrod, Bury Rally Driver and local Businessman John Cope, and our 2017 JEA winner Tommi Meadows.

Every year the team are faced with a difficult task to choose the eventual winner, and this year was no exception, all 3 candidates gave a good account of themselves on why they should receive the coveted JEA.

However one candidate stood out from the other two and it was a unanimous decision by the panel to award the prize to George Lepley.

George first applied for the JEA in 2014 and had made it through to the final on two previous occasions but narrowly missed out on the prize, but he persevered and came back for yet another attempt at winning the JEA, and his drive and enthusiasm shined through and he certainly impressed the whole team enough to take the prize this year.

We all agreed we think he will be a good ambassador to carry the JEA forward.

2300 Club would like to thank all candidates who applied for this year’s award.

Allan Durham
2300 Club John Easson Award Scheme Manager

John Easson Award – 2018 Finalists

2300 Club are pleased to announce the finalists of the 2018 John Easson Award.

George Lepley
Finley Retson
Ewan Tindall

The Award selection committee will meet the finalists later in November and following an informal interview the winner of the 2018 JEA will be decided.

The standard of applicants was extremely high and the selection panel faced a difficult task to narrow them down to three to go forward to the final.

2300 Club would like to thank all candidates who applied for this year’s award and wish them continued success in their rallying.

Allan Durham
2300 Club John Easson Award Scheme Manager

John Easson Award Winners Thrive in British Rallying

Previous John Easson Award winner Sam Bilham will be joining our Current winner Tommi Meadows in a second “Peter Smith of Swift Caravans” supplied and sponsored Fiesta R2 on Rally GB running as a 2 car team.

Also another previous winner Chris Ingram had a sensational debut into the World Rally Championship last weekend driving a TOK sport R5 Skoda into an incredible 10th overall on Rally Turkey. Chris was leading the WRC 2 catagory until a puncture dropped him to 3rd overall in WRC 2 at the finish. He will also be competing on Rally GB in the TOK Sport R5 Skoda.