There is real cause for optimism in British motorsport right now. As welcome not to mention thoroughly merited as Damon Hill’s maiden GP victory in Budapest was, we have become somewhat accustomed to home-spun Grand Prix successes in recent years. With Hill firmly established as a potential winner at every race, Mark Blundell, Martin Brundie. Johnny Herbert and Derek Warwick now foraging regularly in the top six, the likes of David Coulthard attracting the attention of F1 teams with front-running performances in Formula 3000 and Kelvin Burt, Oliver Gavin and Warren Hughes amongst the cream of this year’s British F3 field, future prospects look bright enough.
Rallying, however, despite its popularity as a sport for amateur participants, has never had such a clearly defined staircase for aspiring World Champions.
We sincerely hope that Colin McRae’s success in New Zealand will prove to be the catalyst for change. Schemes such as the Shell Scholarship
are an invaluable aid to the aspiring young rally star, and the latest recipient Ashley Blenkhorn was, at 23, the oldest of several promising candidates, For the moment, such silver spoons will, inevitably, prove elusive to all but a select few in the years to come.
It is encouraging, however, that there is currently a rich seam of talent aspiring to such goals: witness the high level of entries in the predominantly youthful Peugeot GTI Challenge.
While companies such as Shell and Prodrive, entrant of the New Zealand Rallywinning Subaru and also responsible for the similar, front-running cars of Richard Burns and Alister McRae in the British Championship, continue to have faith in British rally drivers something of a forgotten species on the world stage throughout the 1970s and ’80s then there is every reason for hoping that McRae’s success will pave the way for a future generation of Britons in international rallying. And not before time. S A