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Art’s most memorable rally

WRITTEN BY ART McCARRICK

I could go trawling through the depths of my mind for this article but there’s no point. I know what the most memorable rally I’ve attended is, it just hasn’t happened yet. 

The thing is, I don’t get to just go to a rally and spectate all that often anymore and it’s something I miss.

Waking up when it’s still dark, blindly fumbling for an alarm, on a Sunday.

Driving across the country on deserted roads. Stopping after two hours for a breakfast roll because if you made breakfast yourself it would have taken too long and you wouldn’t get into the stage before road closing time. 

Park up, pull on the wet gear, finish the last bite of the breakfast roll because they are a dose of a thing to eat while driving and wash it down with some tea from a flask.

*BING* Onthepacenote.com is live from Parc Ferme.

You get a call from a friend.

“Well. Where are you?”

“I’m on three, at that fast left over the crest after location 12. Hasn’t run in a few years, good spot.”

THAT’S running?! We’ll be on so!”

Not long later there’s a gang of about eight of you standing along the fence, the clever ones have brought milk crates to stand on.

*BING* onthepacenote.com is live from the end of SS1.

The casual abuse that a group of lads throw at each other when standing in a field at 1030 in the morning is interrupted when someone pipes up; “Hey, is that a drop of rain?”

Spectator Control pass and you give a thumbs up.

Holding your phone awkwardly inside your jacket to keep it dry, you check the rest of the first stage times on shannonsportsit.ie because Killian left after 15 cars.

*BING* onthepacenote.com is live from the end of SS2.

A few more people have heard about this corner now, about another 15-16 people arrive, emerging from bushes and over walls, a local and his young fella land in a quad.

MI Safety passes.

Someone has a scanner: “001 into Stage 3 at 1153,” it crackles.

You hear the first two double 0 cars in the distance and then they stop.

The scanner breaks into life again; “001 and 002 held at mid-point. Over.”

A few minutes pass by, you check the rest of the times from Stage 2 and the double 0 cars start up again. The other two  pass.

And then there’s a minute or two of silence, and then you hear it. A thrum in the distance, punctuated by little pops and bangs, growing louder.

The lovely “bluh duh duh” noise of a sequential gearbox flat-shifting becomes clearer and then it bursts into view. And it’s gone as quick as it arrived.

All that’s left is the sweet waft of race fuel and you turn your head back to view the next car, but someone in the group has beaten you too it, looking at fixed point in the distance, tapping their watch they say with a hint of excitement; “He’s five up on him.”

I miss all that, and I missed it anyway before all motorsport stopped for the foreseeable future.

So you know what the most memorable rally I’ve attended is? It’s going to be the next one.

Photo by Ruaidhri Nash

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