Paul Fearnley's Off the line
Who are you in your motorsport dreams? Stirling Moss, straining nerve and sinew to hustle a 300SLR over the Futa Pass under the hour? Jim Clark tricycling a Lotus Cortina through Paddock Hill Bend? Or is it an odd one: Mick Hill grappling with his Chevrolet-powered VW Supersaloon; Frank Lockhart rim-riding a 1920s US board track; or Roger Dorchy topping 400km/h on the Mulsanne Straight in his WM?
Mine’s a weirdy: Sandro Munari, 1974 San Remo Rally.
The libretto is this: Stratos just homologated, big lead at end of leg one, parc fermé in Siena. Lancia has booked me (aka Sandro) a luxury hotel room with a balcony overlooking the city’s picture-perfect Campo. Early restart, shutters flung open for a breath of fresh, hint of mist. And there it is, your futuristic wedge, parked next to the humdrum three-box saloons of your rivals. Yep, it’s gonna be a good day.
At which point the fans ogling the Stratos spot me (aka Sandro) and cheer to the echo.
Reality, of course, isn’t like that — not even for Munari. A bit of research removes the Siena backdrop; that San Remo Rally was based in… San Remo: start, finish, halfway halt. And it was an evening restart. It was a good (night and) day, however. Having overcome a Leg One 4min time penalty, Munari pulled away from the works Fiats, and eased off when his closest challenger, Markku Alén, limped into retirement with a broken wishbone.
Now this is where my daydream gets really weird: it’s about going eight-tenths yet still pulling away in the lead; finding the time to revel in the V6 blip of a super-deliberate downshift, to experiment with trailbraking, early and late apices, to love the car you’re in. Of course, ‘my’ Stratos is in the later Alitalia livery (those yellow Campagnolos!), not the earlier Marlboro paint job — but still I’d happily swap places with Signor Munari.
That’s not an option, clearly. But I might be able to make your dream come true. No, I haven’t got a works Stratos going spare…
Our March 2005 issue will be my last in charge. I have held down the (second-) best job in the world for almost five years and the time is ripe for new blood to steer the magazine deep into the new century.
If you have a broad knowledge of motorsport’s history, a realistic attitude to sampling other people’s million-pound racing cars, and can spell the word ‘of’ correctly, drop me a line at the address opposite (‘snail mail’ or e-mail) and we will add your name to the mix.
I would like to point out that the job is not all beer, skittles and track tests — and that a grasp of magazine practices would be a handy bullet-point on your cv. But more than anything else, the successful applicant will be passionate about motorsport’s past and Motor Sport’s future.