Terminate to accumulate
There is no doubt that British rallying is currently in the throes of a depression. The cancellation, earlier in the year, of the De Lacy International, York National and Panaround Stages was proof enough that the recession has knocked rallying for six. The loss of an event of the Welsh Rally’s status thanks to a shortage of entries that is becoming a familiar tale all over Europe means that now is the time for the sport to take positive steps to safeguard its future.
You don’t need a PhD in Economics to appreciate that increased Forestry Commission charges lead to higher entry fees. That puts off potential competitors, with the result that the cost of running the event has to be spread over fewer and fewer drivers . . . and so the cost of competing escalates further. True, the rallying world must face up to the present economic climate like everybody else. There are things that can be done, however, to improve the situation.
At present, there are too many events and there is no central co-ordination of the rally calendar. As a consequence, rallies may take place within 100 miles or so of each other on the same weekend. Two events which might otherwise have attracted healthy fields thus find themselves competing to attract the same pool of drivers. In Ireland, the RIAC has the situation under control. Such dashes of interest simply do not occur.
It is ironic, at a time when Colin McRae is giving British rallying such a boost on the international stage, that the sport should be in such turmoil at grass roots level.
The demise of hardy annuals may be difficult for local motor clubs to stomach, but an urgent programme of rationalisation is required if British rallying is to tackle the future with confidence.