“Rally fans must learn to self-police”
We waited a long time for this glorious moment to arrive. Pouring over endless hours of shaky, fancam Youtube footage shot illicitly at closely guarded test venues, we debated the merits and faults of the new generation World Rally Car machinery. There was a lot to get excited about in those early videos and equally, with certain teams, a fair amount to be concerned about.
The amateur engineers and armchair experts among us had a field day. Aero, torque, power, speed, handling, all were debate ad nauseum. But really, we were woefully underprepared for just how good, just how impressive, and just how evenly matched all these 2017 cars are. They were, one and all, simply sensational.
M-sport was the last to break cover in testing, yet the first to climb the top step of the podium. it is just not possible to overstate the enormity of this achievement by Mr Wilson and his band of fiercely determined, fiercely loyal followers in Cumbria. It’s one of the UK’S greatest sporting achievements and should be lauded as such.
Let’s hope that Dave Pericak, Ford’s Global Head of Performance, who was at his first rally in Monte, recognises this achievement and supports mr Wilson with the full manufacturer backing he deserves.
But, yet again, the issue of spectator safety came to the fore in Monte Carlo. i have to say that I drove the first and last stage of the rally before the competitors and I have never seen so many fluorescent-jacketed marshals and gendarmes. But more than that, I saw many tens of thousands of very respectful, very dedicated fans behaving impeccably. It is almost impossible to police and or marshal the entire length of any stage. there will always be idiots who ignore instructions to try and recklessly get that impossible shot in their ever more frenzied pursuit of social media likes and retweets.
I believe the answer lies with the responsible majority. These genuine fans represent an army of pseudo-marshals.
In Belgium over a decade ago they set up a club for responsible spectating. It got over 25,000 signed up members – and that was in the days before the mass communication opportunity that social media now offers us.
Ypres Rally goes even further. the event director encourages fans to self-police. If you see something idiotic, don’t ignore it, say something. it works, the most heinous crime in Belgium during Ypres week is to stand in a no-go area.
There are opportunities that need to be explored in this type of approach. Spectator safety is critical to the ongoing success and future of our sport. And it’s a very long way short of being an unsolvable problem.