Bobble hats at the ready! It’s almost November and for thousands of motorsport fans around the country that means only one thing: the RA… Lomb… Network (sorry, we’ll get there in a sec) Wales Rally GB (which GRR will be covering).
Well, perhaps not. It is a tad inconceivable isn’t it? But it never used to be. Take a look at this short British Pathé video from the RAC Rally in 1966 to see how things used to be, featuring a trio of Goodwood’s favourite sons from the time. If you’ve never seen Jim Clark do a handbrake turn before now’s your chance.
Fast forward to now and the final round of the FIA World Rally Championship for 2015 takes to the stages of North Wales on 12-15 November. Sebastien Ogier already has an unassailable position in this year’s championship, despite crashing out of the Catalunya Rally at the weekend while leading, just 4km from the finish.
The champion’s dramatic exit allowed Andreas Mikkelsen to take his first WRC win in 64 attempts, keeping alive his hopes of pipping Jari-Matti Latvala for second place in the drivers’ standings. All three drivers are in Polo Rs, giving VW a similarly unassailable lead over Citroen in the manufacturers’ championship.
For UK rally fans, all eyes promise to be on another battle to be played out on the Welsh stages: the battle for best-placed Brit between Kris Meeke (fifth in Spain at the weekend in his Citroen) and Wales’ local hero Elfyn Evans. Evans (Ford Fiesta) is still seventh in the championship standings, 13 points behind Meeke, despite coming home a lowly 34th in Spain after an off and problems with his car’s setup. That’s all a bit unexpected for the driver who has been on the podium twice in 2015 – and who will definitely be going for glory in his home event in a fortnight.
You can watch a preview of the Wales Rally GB here:
What a contrast that all is to the RAC Rally of 50 years ago. Here’s another short Pathé video from the event in 1965, a quality colour film that sets the scene brilliantly. ‘There’s more to rallying than painting a number on the family saloon,’ it begins, before going on to explain the secrets of doing well. Clean wiper blades and well adjusted headlights chiefly…
Photography courtesy of WRC/Red Bull