Friday 12 May 2023

Rally - Selling out

Apparently I have sold my soul to the devil. Simply by attending this weekend’s Extreme E event I have been accused of selling out. Well, that’s just a load of over ripe manure. How can anyone criticise anything that they haven’t seen or experienced. It’s one thing watching rallying on the telly, quite another actually standing there in sodden anoraks, underneath dripping trees with wet feet having trauchled through ditches to gain a good vantage point.

So, to answer the critics (thankfully very few) my prime reason for attending is to find out more about the technology and the sport of Extreme E. I’m not worried about the motor racers, they have their own Formula E business, but if Extreme E can help point a way forward for rallying then it must be well worth a look.

The over-riding reason is a concern for the future of stage rallying itself. For instance what will happen to our sport after the year 2030?

This is when it has been decreed by the great and the good (?) that there will be no more internal combustion engined cars running on fossil fuels sold in this country, and many others across the globe. If electricity has not reached the stage of everyday sporting practicality by then, what will happen to our sport?

Does Toyota, Hyundai and Ford have long term plans for electric rally cars? Will the WRC cease to be? Has Motorsport UK got a plan? And what about the individual investment every rally car owner has made in their own pride and joy? Will they become ‘historic’ overnight?

There is also the threat to forest usage by rally cars. Already the walkers, ramblers, bird watchers, naturists and cyclers are squeezing rallyists out of long time favourite forests and stages, hence the growing frequency of double usage. As for the forest owners/managers, roads are not being built or maintained for rally cars but primarily for timber extraction trucks and heavy equipment, so those are additional threats.

And although Extreme E vehicles are more akin to Hill Rally competition vehicles, maybe there is something our sport can learn.

That’s why I’m going tomorrow – with an open mind and a desire to learn. I’ve already submitted my list of questions to the scientific team behind this whole concept and maybe I’ll get some answers tomorrow.

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