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YOUR DREAM RALLY - It ain't going to happen

First published in Motorsport News 22nd August 2012

Ah, the joy of sitting down as an organiser with an empty map in front of you and planning the perfect rally. Enjoy the moment because real life will quickly intrude on your dream.

The first hurdle is to get your flawless route passed by the motorsport authorities – the MSA and the RLO. Also on the consultation list are local councils, farmers’ unions, CADW/English Heritage, RSPB and so on. All have to be satisfied before you can go ahead with your event.

Hopefully you’ll have emerged from these initial hurdles without too much impact on your dream rally. Now it’s on to PRing the route - your glorious plan is launched on to an unsuspecting public. The problems that arise at this point are not restricted to objections raised by house holders who don’t want a rally passing their doors. Wedding parties, imminent births and recent deaths are all regular causes of reroutes.

Eventually the date of the rally approaches; this is the time when things can really go pear-shaped.

The good old British weather can now play its part. Dry clear nights can make the going fast, what you hoped would be sure fire droppers turn out not to be. Rain and high wind on the other hand make impassable those never-used-before tracks that you worked so hard to find.

At the off crews will be hoping to keep on the correct road while you simply hope that the hordes of marshals do as they’ve been told. A small minority won’t. They’ll make up their own time schedule and rules; go to the wrong location; and give wrong approaches on straight roads.

Rali Bro Caron 2001
Photograph: M&H Photography

Then there’s PC Plod, who hasn’t read his latest bulletin and is therefore unaware that an authorised rally is taking place, so he decides he must stop this illegal event. Don’t forget Mr Joe Public, he had no issues when PRed but now, with a few glasses of vino in him, he makes up his mind to give competitors the opportunity to play skittles with his dustbins.

Competitors can become, literally, barriers to success as they manage to turn their high performance vehicle into a road block after perhaps an overenthusiastic attempt at hedge laying or trying to wash their car’s electrics in a ford (see right).

Obviously not every rally is affected by such traumas, however these problems, to a lesser or greater extent, do arise on a regular basis. So as a competitor don’t unthinkingly criticise an organiser, what you probably got was a dream rally which was attacked by reality.