JOHN “Rally fans in Scotland can be encouraged”
ally fans in Scotland can be encouraged by the entry list for last weekend’s Arnold Clark - Jurys Inn Snowman Rally with 117 starters. Some 15 more than last year, and including around 40 first-timers.
After the gloom that blighted the sport last year, this provided a glimmer of sunshine on the horizon, or at least it would have had it not been snowing a blizzard.
It also prompted suggestions that the MSA might well have to rethink its rules on tyres for events. If safety is the prime concern then, to be fair to teams and to tyre suppliers the declaration of a ‘Winter Rally’ must be made at least a week in advance of the running of the event. Even if they have to err on the side of caution then giving crews the option to run snow tyres has to be made sooner than the day before ( see report, page 21).
Extreme conditions on Saturday also highlighted shortcomings on restricted spectator access to forest stages. When the organisers had to cancel plans for spectator car parks and viewpoints last weekend on the first stage it put pressure on the others. The Snowman Rally is such a huge sporting event in the Highlands that it always attracts huge crowds, and not just rally fans.
Many occasional visitors have little idea of the conditions they will face when the weather is fair, let alone foul. Officials cannot be blamed for heart attacks and broken ankles ( see report), but such issues have to be dealt with and competitors have to be patient. Amateur car clubs and volunteers can only do so much with limited time and resources.
However, the increase in competitor numbers was encouraging and it highlighted an often overlooked element when attracting new participants to the sport. While much of the emphasis is made on making the sport appeal to 14 and 17 year olds, teens and twenties, we mustn’t overlook the 30s and 40s either.
This is an age group which is established in the work place and usually has a bit more disposable income. Many of them buy motorbikes or flash cars for ‘ride-outs’ and ‘meets’ when perhaps they could be persuaded to have a look at rallying.
For instance, 36-year-old Steven Crockett and 41-year-old Martin Henderson contested their first ever rally in a Peugeot 205. Over the years they have watched, marshalled and serviced but never competed, until now.
Seeded at 120 they spent the entire day on the ‘wrong’ tyres, had to fix an electrical fault in the first stage, repair the gear linkage on the second stage and had to cure a fuel feed problem on the final test. They only got three out of the five stages due to cancellations, but were “absolutely delighted to finish [eighth in class] and looking forward to the next one”.
You can’t buy enthusiasm like that.
Father and son Mike and Andrew Jordan will share a Ford GT40 in the Alan Mann Trophy at the Goodwood Members’ Meeting next month.
Former GT and British Touring Car racer Mike has raced Philip Walker’s GT40 several times before but this will be the first time that 2013 BTCC champion Andrew has raced the 1960s GT.
“I’ve wanted to race the GT40 for some time and for us to share the car at Goodwood is really cool,” said Andrew. “I’m very lucky to get the chance to drive a car like that. There will be some quick guys there but I’m sure we’ll be one of the stronger pairings. I think dad had better start the race in the daylight with his dodgy eyesight and I’ll do the second stint as it gets dark!”
Mike Jordan, who set pole for the previous all-gt40 race at Goodwood in 2013, added: “It will be fantastic to share that sort of car with Andrew.”
Their Jordan Racing Team will look after the GT40 alongside the Ford Lotus Cortina of Mark Sumpter, which runs in the Whitmore Cup for under two-litre pre-1966 touring cars. It will be Sumpter’s first solo race in the car after he took a podium at the Silverstone Classic when sharing it with Jordan Sr.
The Jordans will also go head-to-head in the Gerry Marshall Trophy race when Andrew again shares the Mini 1275GT with Nick Swift and Mike partners Mike Whitaker in the ex-gordon Spice threelitre Ford Capri.