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