“Cars will be un­der Ch­ester’s clock again” GROUP RAL­LY­ING EDI­TOR

Motor Sport News - - Rally News -

Sec­ond. Who cares about sec­ond? Ask Andy Mur­ray. On sec­ond thoughts, don’t.

Do we care that Ch­ester’s East­gate clock is the sec­ond most pho­tographed time­piece in the en­tire of Eng­land? No. I don’t think we do. What we do care about is the fact that cars com­pet­ing on Bri­tain’s round of the World Rally Cham­pi­onship will be pho­tographed and filmed be­neath the clock that’s sec­ond only to Big Ben in terms of clock-based pic­tures shot.

Ch­ester’s back. What fan­tas­tic news. It’s only 12 months late for the his­tor­i­cal hys­te­ria that sur­rounded last year’s 20th an­niver­sary of Colin Mcrae’s ti­tle – the cel­e­bra­tions of which fell within the city walls. No mat­ter. Ch­ester’s back. Twenty years ago, the RAC was run out of Ch­ester for the fi­nal time, but 1996 was very def­i­nitely a whim­per not a bang, fall­ing as it did as Bri­tain’s ro­tated WRC round; the full bevy of bril­liance was miss­ing and Ar­min Sch­warz won in a Toy­ota Cel­ica Gt-four with a re­stric­tor a lit­tle bit more le­gal than the one TTE had been play­ing with 12 months ear­lier.

Who would have thought it would take so long to get back to Ch­ester. Who, by the same to­ken, would have thought we’d be miss­ing from York, Har­ro­gate and Chel­tenham for so long?

A gen­er­a­tion of rally fans has grown up not know­ing the in­ter­est and ex­cite­ment as­so­ci­ated with the an­nounce­ment of this year’s host city for the RAC.

Since 2000, it’s been Wales, be it Cardiff or Dee­side. And it will be for the next three Rally GBS.

Once we’re done with Rally GB 2018, we have to move. We have to get over Offa’s Dyke; we have to head east – and not just for a to­ken Chol­monde­ley stage. Route co-or­di­na­tor An­drew Kel­litt has come up with an­other in­ter­est­ing twist on the same story, but two more years of loosely the same roads will be enough.

We can’t ig­nore the glo­ries of Kielder, York­shire, the Lakes and Scot­land any longer.

The 2019 sea­son must be the one to put the no­mad back into our round of the world cham­pi­onship. Yes, yes, I know Rally Fin­land’s been based in Jy­vaskyla since the year dot and Swe­den’s never sev­ered its links with Karl­stad, but the dif­fer­ence with those events is the wealth of woods on of­fer to send the boys down.

Ev­ery avail­able mile in the likes of Resolfen and Margam was utilised down south and now it’s the same with the forests in the mid­dle and north of Wales.

Let’s revel in the re­turn to Ch­ester this sea­son (and, what­ever you do, make sure you go – the at­mos­phere will be ace) and hope we’re re­port­ing on AK’S use of a blank can­vas in two years.

Just be­fore I go, one re­quest on the Ch­ester front: don’t wash the cars be­fore they go into the city. Dirty rally cars are as cool as they come.

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