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Posted 26th November 2007
It's All Over Now, Or Is It?
It is usually said, that the dust has now settled,
but maybe a better metaphor for the Roger Albert Clark Rally
aftermath is that the mud has now dried…
I realise that it’s remiss of me
not to have put finger to keyboard in this blog for this long after the
event but maybe that us a good thing as distance lends a certain
perspective. At the finish in Carlisle, the organising team was
performing mutual backslapping and declaring this the best ‘Roger
Albert’ yet. Being so close to the event (in more than one sense)
it would have been difficult to gain-say all that self-congratulating
but the real test is what you, the competitors, crews, marshals and
spectators have had to say. I’m really pleased that we took the
decision to add a dedicated Roger Albert Clark Rally forum to the
event website this year because it has provided a sounding board for
everyone to; offer opinions on the event, ask questions and get
answers. It has been a well used resource! Remember the debate about
us having enough quality entries for the event to run? The long running
thread about rumours of cancellation? It all seems such a long time ago
Even now, some two weeks after the
rally, the forum is still going strong ands there are some lessons that
we, the organisers need to take to heart if we are to continue to run an
event that you want in the calendar. We need to recognise the efforts
of not only the competitors in the main event but in all the supporting
Pictures Courtesy of Jonathan Petford
Mea culpa, I have belatedly added information to the ‘News’
page to recognise all our winners; something I will not overlook in the
future and we will do more next year to make sure that everyone’s
contribution is properly recognised.
I am also constantly surprised by
the worldwide nature of our web readership. Although daily readership
numbers have naturally declined from a high of over nineteen thousand
page impressions on the Monday of the event, we are still seeing an
average of twelve hundred page loads a day even now. Moreover, our
international readership in the last forty-eight hours has included USA,
Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Belgium, New Zealand, Sweden, Netherlands,
Portugal, Austria, Australia, Dubai, Germany and…Romania!
As you can see from my daily
reports on this page, I have thoroughly enjoyed this year’s rally. I
endorse all the comments of my colleagues and forum participants in that
this is one of the friendliest events I have had the pleasure to work
on. It is clear that everyone wants to be here and is committed to
enjoying the craic. Even when the rain was pouring down in Greystoke and
we were handed checksheets dripping water, everyone had a smile and
nothing but good words about the rally. Of course the weather was
‘damp’ but we didn’t have the fog that has dogged the rally in the last
three years and that helped us in the closing car to keep up behind the
competitors and help the marshals close their stages quickly. I have
said it before, but make no apologies for saying it again – please, if
you are a marshal (and I marshal too during the rest of the year so I
know what it’s like) don’t take away the arrows or the barrier tape that
mark the stage route before I get through and don’t block my way by
leaving the stage before I have closed it (as happened in one stage this
year). The stage is still live until I have closed the last control and
it is disrespectful to your colleagues in later stages if they have to
stand out in the weather longer than necessary because you delayed me in
yours. Rant over, but remember, I know who you are!
So, a quiet time for us now? Well
my wife is hoping that I will get some of those jobs done that I have
been promising to do for a while but of course there is the planning for
next year to start…
January will see us at the
Autosport International show at the NEC or the Racing Car show as I used
to know it. Last year we turned up with our modest stand which we
attempted to turn into a ‘bit of Kielder in Birmingham’ and found to our
amusement that we were just across the aisle from the Wales Rally GB
stand of enormous proportions. The three of us building our stand
watched with awe as an army of professionals arrived to construct their
stand. We also laughed when half a day’s building was halted by NEC
officials brandishing exhibition plans. It turned out that the whole
thing had been erected two feet in the wrong direction and had to be
moved. Still, it was impressive when it was finally built… in the
Keep watching the website for more
information on the Roger Albert Clark Rally, for announcements
from the show, for news of other shows we will be visiting during the
next twelve months and frankly, anything else we can think of to keep
your interest ;-)
Remember, we do this for you and we
are always interested in hearing from you, on the forum, by email or in
person so let’s keep talking and let’s make next year’s event even
Thank you for your support (and
I’ll wear it always!)
Posted 21st November 2007
Message from Steve Cowley,
PC & Marshal Coordinator
Deserving A Wider Audience
21.00 hrs, Monday 19th November.
Another Roger Albert Clark Rally over for another year. Another story of
success... for Colin Heppenstall and his organising team.... for Steve
Bannister, at last winning the main event.... for the competitors who
gave their all..... for all the marshals who stood out in all
weathers...... and finally the spectators who came along and supported
I've only been home a couple of hours, but I wanted to thank you, the PC
crews for your sterling efforts, sometimes in some trying conditions, in
getting the results thought to Martin Liddle and his team, so that they
could get them back out to the competitors in the field. You all did
tremendously well and I offer my personal thanks. It gives me a great
feeling of satisfaction to know that I've had so many experienced people
Unfortunately, I don't get chance to call at every PC during the event,
Colin, always finds us other tasks to keep us occupied for the duration,
but as our route involved passing a couple of controls we did manage to
stop off and speak with a few of you.
I hope you all enjoyed the event without mishap, it certainly seem to
bring the best out of all who attend, competitors, marshals and
spectators... I say it every year there seems to be a special
camaraderie, everyone is prepared to give a little bit more to help
And the stories you hear.... whilst running the spectator entrance in
Dalby, no one begrudged paying to come and see what they told me was a
superb event.. it brings out the true rally spectators... I even was
asked by two Australians, yes, Australians, who had made a special trip
to come to the event, 'where's the best spot to see the action' in this
instance I sent them to the 'woodyard' and I hope it lived up to their
expectation. I also meet up with four spectators from Belgium at
Scruitineering on Friday, they've been over for every running of the
R.A.C. and they even stopped to say hello again when they saw us out on
Saturday. I know that you'll all have stories to tell of this years
event and I'd be pleased to hear, good or bad.
I'm afraid I'm going to close now, over the our days, I can report I've;
· driven 600 miles
· eaten about 10 bacon/sausage butties
· drunk lots of coffee and 'Bovril' (the
ops car crew - Chrys and Joy seemed to mange to always spare a minute or
two in their tight schedule each day for several cups of 'Bovril)!
· slept for only 20 hours (What
does he mean Only 20 hours?? - Ed.)
· directed hundreds of spectators where
· seen a great many old friends
· got wet and cold
But best of all, been in great company and
had a superb time!
Now I must crash out, and get back to normality.... once again THANK YOU
to you all, I know I haven't got everyone's email address so please pass
on this email and my personal thanks to all your colleagues who came out
PC and Marshal Coordinator.
P.S. why not visit the event website
www.rogeralbertclarkrally.org to see all the results, the blog and
all the forum discussions.... on Saturday I believe the site had in the
order of 15,000 hits!!!
Posted 19th November 2007
Too tired to blog...
Finished, all over for another year. Surely not, it didn't last
long enough I demand a recount, I want more stages. Anyone want to join my
More words tomorrow but for now some pics taken from the course closing car on
Posted 18th November 2007
Went The Day Well?
Now we should hang the flags out, I'm happy with the way the day went for us two
days in a row. We started the day immediately behind the last car on the
road - in this case the last of the Clubmans entries, entered the last stage of
the day on the back bumper of the last car on the road - this time the final
Roger Albert Clark Rally runner and closed the last time control only two
minutes behind the last car. You may ask so what? but this is actually
very difficult to achieve and in fact is the first time we have managed this
feat on this event in the four years it has been running.
Consider this: The competitors arrive at a stage start, take a time,
attempt the stage, take a time and leave for the next road section
with little delay. We on the other hand, as course closer, arrive at the
stage start and have to ensure that all the runners who set out from the
previous control have actually arrived and not gone AWOL somewhere on the route
- something that for various reasons happens frequently. Clearly we cannot
close a control if there is still a competitor on the road who has the right to
attempt a stage so often a deal of time is taken resolving check sheets or
awaiting competing cars. Then when we get into the stage, firstly we have
a slower run through the stage itself for obvious reasons but also because stage
arrowing is often being taken away by marshals before we have completed the
stage. Please, if you are a marshal, don't make my job any more difficult
or dangerous by removing stage furniture before we have cleared the stage.
Why do you think I can find my way through a stage without all the signposting
that is there to help competitors? This is hazardous in daylight hours but
downright dangerous in the dark!! We may then be held up by broken-down or
stranded competitors who demand our time. Arriving finally at the end of
the stage we must again resolve checksheets and then collect all paperwork and
timing equipment before we can leave the stage. Overall, by the time we
regain the public road, the competitor we followed closely into the stage is
long gone and we have to try to make up time on the public road. All
delays during the day are cumulative as there is little opportunity to make up
time and if we arrive late at a stage we get chastised for delaying marshals
when the competition is over so it's difficult to win but it's still a great job
to do as how many other jobs on the rally get you as close to the action?
I was discussing this with colleagues this evening and received unexpected
praise from two individuals. One told me that my driving this evening to
keep on time the way we did was "a good bit of driving" praise indeed from
that quarter! and 'Original Closer' let it be known that I may be starting to
get the job done correctly... So I award myself a gold star for a job well
I certainly felt that I couldn't have driven through Kershope any faster than I
did and still stay on the island given the standard lighting on my vehicle and I
came away having thoroughly enjoyed the drive through the forests today and the
great public roads that Colin routed the rally along to link the stages.
Great route planning, great stages and, for a change, decent weather to boot.
So, went the day well? You bet your sweet bippy it did...
Posted 17th November 2007
A Course Closers Day
What a great
day! Now, it's not often you hear me say that but I mean it today.
The weather for the most part, Greystoke excluded has been fine and the stages
have been in a wonderful condition. The day of course has not been without
its tribulations, it has been saddening to lose Mr Perez and his beautiful
Stratos but Steve Bannister in the VK Escort has been a revelation and young
Marty McCormack (I understand) a sight to gladden the heart as he throws his car
around the forests as if born to do so. That's not to leave out Jimmy
McCrae who showed his true form by coming into his own in the dark this evening.
Colin speaks below of the huge crowds in the Dalby woodyard and it is really
amazing to steam into the clearing to be surrounded by people in this way.
A fantastic sight and one I hope we continue to see in Dalby as the powers that
be decide the future of our sport in their woods.
I have to talk about Greystoke. For the last couple of years, to be honest
I have not enjoyed this stage. It has been run in the dark, I only have
road vehicle lights and it has been rough. Today was different. I
still have the same lights, it was still dark and today it poured with rain but,
I know that serious money has been spent improving the surface in here and it
shows. It is now one of the best surfaces I have driven on in the woods
and I can't wait to try it again - although I would still prefer daylight!!
And now for the "bizarre accident of the day" spot. It's not that unusual
to have to pull a car out of a ditch, but not often after the stop line.
According to the stop line marshals, they had checked this car (not named to
spare blushes!) through the control and turned away in readiness for the next
competitor when they heard the crash. Evidently, on leaving the stop line,
the driver reached across for his water bottle and promptly left the road...
Cue recovery vehicle to pull them back onto the road...
As it's now 00:45 and
I'm back on the road at 07:00 I think I'll close for now. More tomorrow
Posted 17th November 2007
Rally Managers Rambling
Day one of
the event: Up at 4.30AM to arrive at Elland Road for a 5.30 check of the
venue. All was quiet, a dozen or so crews were sleeping in the vans and
I was greeted by the Head of Leeds Council Parks Department, who had
been the liaison with the event pre event, checking that everything was
in hand for the big breakdown as Leeds United had a home match which was
due to kick off at 3PM and the police had given strict instructions that
the event had to be out no later than 12 noon, and the council were just
Try telling a police man that we will be out for 10.00AM when they say
noon and don’t believe you!
After agreeing all was in order it was up to Temple Newsam, putting out
the Spectator Car Park Signs to show the way in.
Then we had to drive into the park to put up temporary diversion signs
for the footpaths in the park that the stage was using, who said this
job was glamorous!
By this time it was 7.50AM so back round to the start to try and watch
the first car off the start line, Guess what I missed it! 12 months of
planning and miss the first and second car but had the chance to see the
Saab before the Car 1 went into the stage.
After watching, yes, time off to do some spectating. The main field
through the stage it was a new role for the rest of the day, running
link car between the main field and the Kall Kwik Rally.
What can be said about the driving through the woods, magic! And being
able to see the hundreds and hundreds of spectators in Dalby and
Langdale was great to see. I hope you had a good a view of the cars from
wherever you were watching from.
First major casualty of the day was Steve Perez in the Lancia Stratos
with loads of smoke and steam billowing from the back of the car at the
end of Stage 4 Dalby.
The odd crew kept falling off during the rest of the day not doing much
damage to the cars, until the last Yorkshire stage. We were 3 miles into
the stage to hear on the radio that car 31 the Lancia Fulvia of Steve
Graham was stuck in a gully across the stage. To be told that the first
Kall Kwik car had been let into the stage 5 minutes early a quick Ah,
Ah, Ah, and a short cut through the link section to reach Car 31, to
find it half way across the track. Had to wait for the first Kall Kwik
Car to come past, thankfully he could see us from a long distance and
slowed to pass the car not loosing too much time, then we could recover
the car out of the ditch, then it drove to the end of the stage.
Move on to Scarborough for the finish of the Kall Kwik and present the
awards to the crews, and Darren Moon and John McNichol had won the event
for the second year running, so the above incident had not played any
part in the timing, this does make my life easier.
Now a long long road section from Scarborough to Carlisle Airport to
receive the crews back into the Airport and the end of the first day,
via a restaurant to obtain some food for the first time in the day.
As I am writing this the restart times for the crews in the morning are
just been sent to the by SMS text service and the first car leaves here
at 7.01 in the morning.
Posted 16th November 2007
What does the Course Closer do then??
Colin, I had some work to do on the website and then rolled over to Elland Road
in time to get a (free) cup of coffee from the Dunlop hospitality unit - and a
damn fine cup of coffee too!
For me, this is when the reality of the fact that our event is getting underway
starts to sink in. An empty, wind-swept car park starts to fill up with
some pretty fine machinery and officials move into place like a well oiled
mechanism. Most have been involved with rallies for a very long time...
and just fall into the routine of a job they have honed over the years.
Strangely, no one has to give instructions and people just fall into place.
Scrutineering starts and the cars roll into the marquee. You know, a lot
of money and loving attention has been poured into these old girls and they look
magnificent. My favourites? Well, difficult to say but I am
particularly taken by the pretty little Renault Alpine, Yuk's Honda engined
Escort, the similarly powered Leyland Mini and the Puma engined Ka.
There's a disparate set for you but at least I can't be accused of being marque
biased! Of course I should add to that list two cars that have been built
specifically for the Roger Albert Clark Rally; the Stratos of Steve Perez and
the Lancia of the Graham brothers - both handsome machines with a place in my
I managed to have a few words with the man of the moment, Steve Bannister,
sporting his new Vodka Kick baseball cap. Steve told me that Ethel was
still a bit poorly with engine problems and although he was looking forward to
driving the loaned VK Escort - a thing he hasn't done yet!- he feels it will be
an entirely different experience for him. Ethel has more power and a fast
Quaife box unlike the VK car with it's five speed box but with, he feels, better
suspension. So, Steve should be worth a watch in Temple Newsam tomorrow
morning as he comes to grips with his new mount.
Another man with engine problems in the last few weeks was Bob Bean with a new
unit now shoehorned into his Cortina. Bob will as always I'm sure give it
a good go over the last few days but is aware that a paucity of spares following
the recent theft of his service van and it's cargo might make things difficult
My thanks to Phil Dolby and his fellow Stratos enthusiast (sorry I missed your
name) who brought their wonderful looking and sounding cars along to
scrutineering and graced the entrance with them all afternoon - look out
for them at Temple Newsam tomorrow too.
It's now nine PM, the service area will close in an hour and I have to be here
for the reopening at seven in the morning. My job will be to make sure we
don't leave any stragglers behind and to herd them along to Temple Newsam.
I look forward seeing the spectators out there on a cold clear November morning
- especially from inside my nice warm vehicle.
Give me a wave as I pass you and I'll be thinking of you trying to keep warm :-)
Have an enjoyable event and stay safe.
Want to hear what
Steve Perez had to say when interviewed at scrutineering then click
large file do not attempt to download over a slow link)
Posted 16th November 2007 What does the Rally Manger do on the day before
Up at 6am after getting to bed at 1am finalising the packs for the competitors.
Packed the car, dropped the kids at nursery for the day and off to Elland Road
for 9AM. The setting up of Elland Road started on Wednesday with the
Marquee being erected, and 42 heras fence panels which for three very unskilled
people took us four hours.
When I arrived this morning nothing was stirring and everything already for the
crews to arrive. First to Arrive? Dunlop with the two articulated
vehicles full of tyres closely followed by the Dunlop Café. This event is the
only Rally that Dunlop allows the café to attend, for the marshals and
competitors are dispensed free tea, coffee to all.
The competitors started to arrive from lunchtime and parked up at noise to wait
for the 3PM kick off. By 2PM we had 30 cars lined up, and what a sight of
vehicles, mostly painted in the original colours.
First to go through noise and scrutineering was the Lancia Stratos of Steve
Perez, closely followed by David Stokes in the Gambia Escort.
As darkness fell the spectators headed inside the heated marquee and about 200
people were watching scrutineering .
So what does the Rally Manager do on the day before the event starts. The answer
is quite easy, very little unless something does not happen as it should.
I hope all the spectators have an enjoyable and safe event.
Posted 15th November 2007
Still a lot to do! It has been a busy day for everyone involved
with the event. Malcolm, the
C of C for the Kall Kwik had a little run out to Penrith today - he said
that the weather was fine and the Stage Commander for Ash Park now has his stage
Meanwhile I've been fitting my radios and internal lighting into the vehicle
loaned to me by 'Uncle Henry'. I should say that we are once
grateful to Ford Motor Company and
Land Rover for supplying our event vehicles. I promise to try
harder to stay on the road this year and bring the vehicle back in one,
Tonight will be my
last real chance to check over the paprework I will need for the event and to go
through the roadbook against the event maps. You would think that I would
know the stages and all the link roads between them like the back of my hand
(wow, is that my hand?) but remember, I only drive and then I am
constantly surprised by bits of the forests that I remember - "Isn't that
where...last year that...?" I think it mught just be another symptom of
old age and senility.
Well, tomorrow we decamp for
Elland Road and scrutineering. There was a paragraph in the latest news
letter from the Wales Rally GB which described the WRC as a circus but I think
for this week at least we will have the biggest tent. Wait a minute
though, isn't a circus full of clowns? On second thoughts that describes
the Welsh event better than it does ours - Surely??
Oh and by the way, I have to
be in Leeds tomorrow for my vehicle to be fitted with the state of the art rear
suspension and traction control mentioned on the forum by
understand that he has already been to B&Q for the bags of sand. Does that
mean that the extra weight will slow me down - Well, I probably need it!
Posted 13th November 2007
It's Getting Exciting Now!
So, Here we are,
back again! I can't believe that it's a year since the Roger Albert
Clark Rally 2006. Although a lot has happened in the meantime it
doesn't feel twelve months since we were washing the forest mud off the Ranger,
our boots and ourselves!
doesn't seem a year since I was thinking that I'm getting too old for this and
maybe I won't do it again. It doesn't seem twelve months since Original
Closer said that if I keep practicing at the Course Closing thing I might
get as professional at it as he was in his heyday - I'm always surprised that he
can remember back that far, but there you go.
It has been very
busy running the website this year and the new forum has proved to be very
popular, helping the organisers communicate directly with competitors and fans
alike. It has been fascinating to see the conversations which have taken
place and the different subjects that drive folks to put finger to keyboard.
Some of the most heated debates have been around the number of entries on this
year's event and the perceived lack of 'star' entries. I won't restart the
debate here, but you need to look back at the successes of previous "Roger
Albert's" and look at the entry numbers to see whether you think this year's
event will turn out to be a classic in the making. I for one am excited to
see Jeremy Easson, Jimmy McRae and Steve Bannister up against each other let
alone the rest of the quality entry - I also can't wait to see the Stratos again
and will be interested to see young Martin McCormack in flight through the
In case you are
interested, since we started gathering statistics on the use of the Roger
Albert Clark Rally website at the beginning of 2006 we have had
105,000 unique visitors – 56,620 in 2006 and almost 50,000 so far in 2007.
We’ve had 49,500 visitors return to the site more than once and we have had the
web pages downloaded over 350,000 times!
We also have had visitors to the site from all over the world. This week
alone we have had people visit the site from USA, Japan, Australia, Germany,
Belgium, Finland, Sweden, UAE, Ireland, Denmark and Switzerland. I just
hope that some of these long range visitors actually manage to get out on the
event and spend some money on tickets :-)
The first briefing for officials took place on Sunday and the organising team
will be moving into tented accommodation at Elland Road in a couple of days so
we are on the home straight to the start of what we hope will be another great
rally. We are looking forward to it and I hope you are.