Having enjoyed rallying from both inside the car and organisation, I have now just labelled myself as a marshal (and I have the licence and tabard to prove it) and also a serious spectator.
This year the British Championship is where I am honing my spectator skills, which unfortunately started late in Ireland.
The Circuit was great, with many options to spectate, nearby villages serving great coffee and snacks and we even found a house that opened up their garden for us to spectate in full view and in safety.
The Pirelli, however, was a different story. Because of the compact nature of the event, the spectator areas were few on each day. Having said that, we did manage two on day one and one on Sunday, both days allowing us to go back into Carlisle for service.
The safety measures the MSA have inflicted upon the organisers is very good, if not at times a bit over the top. What seems to be forgotten is once the spectators get into the spectator areas, you are then faced with very bad access to the areas you are told you can watch in safety.
Over the few stages we watched, on-the-foot access was a total non-starter if you were elderly or with any form of disability. In fact, for the normally able, everywhere carried high risk of slipping into water-filled ditches or tripping over tree roots.
Having seen families out on Sunday with mothers and their small ones, sometimes with the family dog struggling on this very uneven territory, I felt the safety of the rally, the access to the forest was then considered, but with no thought at all for the people they were trying to attract.
I did not see many spectators at all in Carlisle and on the stages there was room for more, but in the future provide safer areas to get to and stand, and then grade your areas from good to bad, supply toilets and catering where you expect the masses. Dave Whittock Via email