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Random thoughts of an old man who started rallying in 1963!

What is Rallying?

Rallying is a test involving the skills of a driver and navigator and the endurance, reliability and performance of a public road-going vehicle. It is about unpredictability, knowledge, timing accuracy, map reading and endurance. It is not solely about speed and accidents (although watching current media coverage you could be forgiven for believing this). If you accept this definition, advance information about the route should not be available.

Who are we running rallying for?

Are we running it for the 5% of competitors who might want to compete at international level or the 95% who will never go beyond the current National B? Suspect it is the latter, in which case why are we slavishly following every silly edict from the FIA about fireproof this and that and date related specifications which have not been risked assessed. I have never heard of an incident where fire proof overalls have had any effect in a regional/national rally. Tot up the stage miles/crew ratios on events since 1963 and see what result that gives you. I speak as someone who spent 42 years enforcing consumer safety legislation so I do have experience in this field.

David Richard's Legacy

The WRC is a mess. It bears no resemblance to production cars used on the public road and is only of interest to a very small number of manufacturers who provide about five competitive drivers currently competing. Unless the regulations for both vehicles and events are radically changed the 'ladder of opportunity' is rung-less. PLEASE don't go down that route. The sooner WRC cars are sent permanently to the Rallycross tracks the better. And send S2000 with them.

MSA Structure

National B is a misnomer. Clubmens grade has no place in the current rallying structure and both need replacing with a regional type licence where events, competitors and cars are restricted. Dare I suggest two wheel drive only as a starting point. This is probably the last chance the MSA has to get a structure for rallying. If they don't this time I can see another organisation being set up to control amateur rallying. It can be done – see AMCA (motoX) or CTT (cycling). Those organisations don't need the ACU or British Cycling. I don't want to see this, but the MSA must think a bit laterally and only be linked to the FIA for international or genuine national events.

We also used to have events observed for upgrading to give an incentive for clubs to progress up the ladder. This worked OK until IMS came on the scene and stamped on progression (and didn't make a very good job of it in Scotland or the Nat B WRGB). Too many people at the MSA believe the hype put out by the David Richards and Rick Smiths of this world. Most of it is pure twaddle in relation to clubmens rallying. If you don't believe me read the press releases put out for the 2010 Sunseeker – pass the sick bag, Alice!


Car specification

I'm probably one of the few that thinks that K37 didn't go far enough. We need to find a specification that enables a clubman to build a competitive car at reasonable cost. If there were overall restrictions on engine size, tuning, tyres, suspension and bodywork, linked to volume production vehicles it could be done. We then might find the best drivers and vehicles to compete at higher levels. I would start with 2WD, 1600 non turbo, closed tread pattern tyres (what has the MSA been doing for the last five years?), original suspension mountings etc. etc. There are enough engineers in motor sport to write a suitable specification once the governing body has decided the principle. Mike Broad in the last report on rallying said he was hoping for a lead from the FIA. Pigs might fly!

Closed roads

Sorry to put a dampener on this but it is a financial non starter due in the main to policing costs. North Yorkshire Police insisted recently that they should police a small club cycling road race. Their charge was to be £2500 for four hours on a short 10 mile course which was open to other road users. Several other national cycle races have been cancelled this year solely due to policing costs. The Jim Clark has just been notified that their police want full cost recovery. ACPO would not wear closed roads without full cost recovery. The days of John Gott are long gone. Forestry charges would be miniscule compared to Police costs.


Too many rallies? But the laissez faire attitude of the MSA contributes to the problem. A few years ago we had four events converging on Carlisle in two weeks. Non of the organisers would talk to each other and the MSA sat back. I wrote a Code of Practice (attached) which was welcomed by the Regional Committee but was conveniently lost somewhere in Colnbrook. I want a governing body to govern, not sit on the fence. If the regional associations cannot control events in their area then the MSA should take a stand and lead.


Scrap the BARS test. Let registered motor clubs state whether people are competent.
The likelihood of public bodies sponsoring events in the future will diminish.
Separate vehicle regulations for stage and road rallying.
Ignore 90% of the comments on the British Rally Forum, but do read some very constructive comments from people who may be out of favour (Philip Young, Pat Flynn and Richard Ceen spring to mind).
The recent article about Jake Humphrey in Motorsport Now expresses all that is wrong with rallying today. We don't want F1 hype in our sport.
Clamp down on noise. The current Evo's and Subarus are ridiculously noisy even at tickover.

Dave Holliday

01904 763 080

Co-driver 63 – 75 up to home internationals.
Organiser of MN road rallies (until realisation of total illegality!)
Member of RAC Rallies / Regional Committees 70's
Regional Organiser Lombard RAC Rally 79 – 85
Secretary/Chairman/President ANECCC 70's +
MSA Steward to 1986
Competitor Liaison Officer/ Press Officer, Malton Forest Rally

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