Raid Or Blitz?

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My French dictionary quotes two English meanings for the word raid. The first is ‘raid or hit-and-run attack’ and the second, when used in conjunction with automobile, is ‘long-distance car rally’.

What a quaint word to use for a long distance rally! I don’t recall anyone indulging in bombing runs on the way to Dakar, or making commando strikes during the London-Sydney Marathon. Marathon would have been a much better choice, but ‘le parking’ and ‘le weekend’ have been common for years across the channel, so it is not at all surprising. OCED states raid’s origin as Middle English, or a Scottish form of Old English.

Recently, FISA announced that it would be creating a five-round series of marathons, for which a trophy called the World Cup would be put up. At the same time, it was stated that raid would be dropped in favour of Cross Country Rallies. About time too, although we wonder what rallies, other than single-venue events, do not qualify for the description ‘cross-country’! Still, at least it’s a move in the right direction.

We have a theory about the origin of the French use of raid to describe long distance rallies. One of the events of the European Championship, the major series before the International Rally Championship was established, was the Polish Rally, the Polish name for which is Rajd Polski. Rajd is pronounced ‘raid’, with its ‘a’ as in apple. There must be a connection there somewhere.

Other rule changes announced by FISA, due to come into operation in 1993, include the requirement that a common fuel supply be used by everyone, and that the sole supplier be appointed by FISA. We can appreciate the reasons, for there have been numerous rumours for months that some teams use fuel with additives which are not allowed, but we foresee problems caused by FISA’s appointment of a ‘sole supplier’.

Intended to reduce costs, other measures include a limit on tyre widths to nine inches for all cars exceeding three-litre engine capacity (after any pressure induction co-efficient is applied), and a restriction on the number of turbochargers, gearboxes and differentials which can be used.

We welcome any move to reduce the wholesale parts replacement which is common among professional teams nowadays, but it’s going to be difficult to enforce a limit of only one change of gearbox and/or differential per car during any one rally and a limit of one change of turbocharger per leg of any one rally.

As expected, queries have already been raised by manufacturers, one of which is hinged on the fact that most gearboxes and centre differentials are integral units nowadays. Another concerns whether a removed gearbox can be repaired and later replaced without being counted as a gearbox change within this rule. We think not. A change is a change, whether the unit is repaired for further use during that same rally or repaired and kept for the next event.

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