Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Rally - City centre rally

Jari-Matti Latvala meets Marku Alen
Although it’s some time away, the organisers of Finland’s counter in the World Rally Championship (31st July - 3rd August) have arranged a very enticing and attractive pre-rally event to whet the appetite of rally fans everywhere.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Neste Oil Rally Finland, the organisers are staging the Nest Oil Helsinki Battle (July 26) on the weekend before the rally itself.

Helsinki’s Mayor, Jussi Pajunen, is right behind the idea and a ‘street circuit’ has been designed using Closed Roads where the rally stars will 'do battle' in current generation WRC cars.

Among drivers taking part will be Mads Östberg from Citroën, Thierry Neuville and Juho Hänninen from Hyundai, plus Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala from Volkswagen.

Apparently it was Markku Alen who threw down the gauntlet and he will be joined in the Legends team by Juha Kankkunen, Marcus Grönholm and Tommi Mäkinen.

As part of the event, a proper Service Park will be created in the city centre and folk will be able to get up close to the cars and stars.

It's a perfect example of what could be achieved if we had 'Closed Roads' in this country. I'm not suggesting staging a rally in a built-up area, but the term 'city centre start' would take on a whole new meaning. After all it has been superbly done in Duns, and spectacularly in the capital of Mull, Tobermory, so why not other cities and towns?

Now, what's the chances of getting the Lord Provost of Glasgow, Councillor Sadie Docherty, to consider such an idea? It would be an ideal follow-on to the Commonwealth Games. There is a precedent. The Arnold Clark Scottish rally actually started from George Square in 1983. Although it was simply a formal affair, very much like the traditional start in Blythswood Square, can you just imagine rally cars going for a scud round the square before heading out to the forests. Magic.

Mind you, I bet Boris would be interested for his capital of Englandshire! What's the betting the Sunseeker has already thought of it?

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