Welcome. You’ve arrived. This is rallying. This is Dayinsure Wales Rally GB. Brace yourself for the most staggering sensory assault. That’s assuming you’re reading this leaning up against a tree in Dyfi, killing time as you wait for a world champion, 380 horses and a lot of noise.
If you’re reading it in your favourite armchair on a future Saturday evening hoping to avoid Strictly, you’re going to
be disappointed. Dancing’s just dancing. But rallying’s dancing at 100mph, on snow, mud, ice, gravel and asphalt.
But what really is rallying? For those of you used to consuming your motor sport trackside, you’ve ventured into a very different – but we like to think very much better – parallel universe.
The first thing you need to know is that you’ll one be seeing one car at a time in the corner before you. You’ll also notice, there’s no run-off, no ARMCO and no gravel traps. Just gravel. Rallying is motor sport in an environment we can relate to, in cars we recognise as the ones we buy every time we’ve paid the last one off.
World Championship rounds - of which Dayinsure Wales Rally GB is the 11th -
start on a Thursday evening and finish on
a Sunday lunchtime. This year’s event will start by returning to the popular venue
at Tir Prince, just outside Towyn on the north Wales coast where the cars and crews will go against the clock on a track.
Next morning, the cars leave their service areas in the Deeside Rally Village. Service
is where they are tended to by a team of mechanics who can do loads of things like changing gearboxes or front suspension
in no time at all and without any invoices
or abuse of the driver’s wallet. They also
do the more mundane work here, such
as cleaning the windscreen, topping up washer fluid and making sure the crew have a couple of energy bars or bananas in their door pockets.
Out of service, the cars are driven along liaison sections – between service and the competitive stages – in accordance with each individual country’s traffic laws. So, where the speed limit’s 30mph in Newtown for you and I, it’s exactly the same for them. If they break the law on the road, they’re treated just like you and I.
Dayinsure Wales Rally GB has 23 stages in 2018 spread over Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. A stage is the name for the road between the stage start and flying finish.
It’s the time it takes a crew to get from start to finish that decides who’s quickest in that stage while the accumulated time from all 23 stages will decide the winner of the rally.
Stages in the WRC are run on all surfaces and to all lengths, but in Wales this year they range from the brand new street stage in Llandudno to the much more typical 20Km test in Myherin first thing Saturday morning.
In these stages, the aim for the crew is simple, to go as fast as humanly and mechanically possible without crashing, spinning or breaking the car. And that’s the challenge, that’s the hook – the race is against the clock. Fastest wins.
We could get more technical here, but let’s save that for another day. For now, put the programme down and wait for your world and these woods to be rocked.