“Being Wales Rally GB clerk is a real honour”
Ever since Fred Gallagher stepped down as clerk of the course of Wales Rally GB at the end of last year’s event, I had been worrying about my elevation to fill the enormously big shoes he’d left under the table in rally control.
Fred had been doing the job for 20 years and the prospect of trying to follow him was fairly daunting.
Throughout this season, I’ve watched and learned as this incredible team went through the gears and built up towards the start of last week’s event. By the time I moved into Deeside at the start of the week, the nerves had gone. I’d been enormously reassured at seeing just how good these folk are at doing what they do.
I then realised, however, that the final decisions on things now lay with me, which made me all the more determined not to let anybody down.
As it happened, the event ran faultlessly. For a first time as clerk, last week’s rally was a pretty good one – nothing like the weather-affected nightmare last year turned out to be. I offered up a silent prayer of thanks to the weather gods on Sunday night.
Collectively, what we do in rally control is what we’ve always done in rally control: we set the convoy moving at shakedown on Thursday morning and we just try to keep it rolling along until Sunday afternoon. And we did that with an absolute minimum of fuss and drama.
There were a couple of spectator and marshal-related illnesses along the way, but those were dealt with quickly and competently – as were the massed ranks of spectators on the second run of Clocaenog.
Friday was probably the busiest day, which concluded with us going into a city centre event in Chester later than planned. But again, we worked through our plans and everything was perfect.
The second run of Alwen also caused a few tense moments. As we watched the first run through the Sunday test, which started at 0928hrs, it became clear we might be in danger of lapping ourselves with the second run which started at 1114hrs. As it was, the zero car for SS21 went into the stage pretty much directly behind the sweeper for SS19!
But we made it. People have asked me what it’s like to be clerk of the course of a WRC round and that question makes me smile. I can’t believe people are asking me that question! Thanks to my dad, I’ve been rally mad all my life and the thought of me, Iain Campbell, being the clerk of the course of a world championship still catches me by surprise.
And that was probably the reason I found myself sitting down on my own in rally control with a stupid big grin on my face late on Sunday night. But the reality is, there’s a fair bit more paperwork than I’d imagined.
But if that’s the price of the best job in the world, then I am happy.