Matters of moment, January 1996

Where now for British rallying

The novelty of having a British World Rally Champion in Colin McRae has begun to wear off. At first like any lottery winner McRae said that he couldn’t believe it. By now, he will be getting used to the label and, with luck, the extra money. He deserves it.

Whether McRae’s new status aids British rallying or motorsport generally is another matter. The RACMSA is making some progress towards re-starting the British Junior Rally Team, in association with the International Rally Drivers’ Club, but not at any great speed. The cynics will suspect that, with its usual instinct for a quiet life, the RAC is hiving the problem off to someone else rather than offering much leadership.

Some will argue that funding a few talented drivers is a waste of money. They should see the kind of effort that the Finns put into developing their most promising drivers or the results Australian sportsmen achieve in a range of disciplines with “official” help. McRae is one of a kind. He has risen to the top through a combination of his own talent and parental guidance. It is practically inconceivable that anyone else could follow the same route and it is not good enough to trust to luck to produce drivers of his calibre.

To uncover and encourage further McRaes, Britain not only needs a junior team, but a concerted effort to get more people involved in motorsport. The number of competition licence holders has plunged since the RAC clamped down on road rallying at the end of 1987 and, for the good of every kind of motorsport, this needs to be reversed. People need to be reminded that motorsport is fun and that, like obviously “healthy” sports, it can do you good, in this instance by producing better, safer drivers.

A World Champion like McRae can be an example to the young, if he is willing to get involved in some form of promotion and the RAC is prepared to make use of him. We look forward to some worthwhile proposals from our governing body. DKW