Race lines: how Rally GB got lost in the woods Car News

Have you noticed that Rally GB, the British event of the World Rally Championship, no longer exists? If you are a die-hard rally fan, of course. You’ll be wringing your hands at his absence from the 2021 calendar, mourning the loss of a British motorsport crown jewel that has quietly eluded us. Imagine if it was the British Grand Prix that had been abandoned. There would be widespread indignation. But Rally GB… beyond the diehards, there was hardly a ripple. Worse yet, there is a real fear that what was once known as RAC Rally (or “The Lombard,” depending on your age) may be lost forever.

Decline and fall

For the first time in 1932 under the name Torquay Rally, thanks in large part to the lobbying of the Autocar for a British equivalent of the Monte-Carlo Rally, the ‘RAC’ has a wonderful legacy which has touched most people. regions of the country over the past 89 years. But its roots have been sewn deep into the dense forests of Britain – in Wales, Scotland, Kielder, Grizedale – on some of the best gravel roads in the world. Then the rally started to change, especially in the high end. A drive to homogenize what was once a grueling day-and-night feat of endurance and sleepy adventure has been transformed into a centralized TV “product” – one that hardly anyone watches. To compound the decline, you need to know where to look to find live coverage of the modern WRC (the mad days of the BBC’s Top Gear Rally Report are ancient history) and then pay to watch it.

Over the past two decades the UK event has come to be known as Wales Rally GB, centered first in Cardiff, more recently in Deeside and supported by enthusiastic regional government funding. But a combination of a Covid-induced cancellation last year and new political apathy for the event in Wales, driven by harsh economic reality, cost Britain its place in the WRC – and this despite the fiery emergence of Elfyn Evans as a true title prospect. . As Hugh Chambers, Motorsport UK CEO, recently admitted: “Even with a spectator sale, we would run the event. [this year] at a very large loss.

Sport out of its time

It doesn’t help that the rally has been served terribly, both internationally and nationally, by its leadership over the past 20 years. Formula 1 first introduced hybrid engine technology in 2009; the WRC will finally do so in 2022. There is a collective responsibility for this failure to embrace a changing world – a world that will always be grappling with the concept of cars powered solely by fossil fuels that weave their way through. beautiful countryside. MSUK claims to have worked hard to prove that rally has little negative impact on environments that promoters are paying increasingly large sums to use, but when rally cars remain decidedly ‘old fashioned’, the governing body is fighting a losing battle. As in most social areas, those at the bottom of the chain – the national, club and historic stages – will suffer as much, if not more, than top sport.

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This notice was published: 2021-04-21 23:01:23